Man filling in Social Security Disability Claim.
By Michelle Shvarts
Principal Attorney

Applying for Social Security

Applying for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) can often be filled with uncertainty about the chances of success. Both SSDI and SSI are federal programs designed to provide financial assistance to individuals who are unable to work due to a disability. However, the likelihood of winning a claim can vary based on several factors, including the nature of the disability, the strength of the supporting evidence, and whether or not the claimant is represented by an attorney.

Understanding the Odds

The Social Security Administration (SSA) evaluates disability claims based on strict criteria. To qualify for benefits, an individual must have a medical condition that prevents them from engaging in substantial gainful activity (SGA) and is expected to last for at least one year or result in death. The SSA assesses the severity of the disability, considering medical evidence, work history, age, education, and vocational skills.

Statistically, the approval rates for SSDI and SSI claims can vary. According to SSA data, the approval rate for initial SSDI claims hovers around 36%, while the approval rate for initial SSI claims is approximately 29%. These figures indicate that a significant number of claims are denied upon initial application.

The Role of Legal Representation

Seeking legal representation can significantly impact the outcome of a disability claim. Disability attorneys specialize in navigating the complex SSA regulations and procedures, advocating for their clients’ rights, and presenting compelling cases on their behalf.

Research suggests that claimants who are represented by attorneys are more likely to be approved for benefits. According to a report by the Government Accountability Office (GAO), individuals who had representation at the initial application stage were approved at a higher rate compared to those who applied without legal assistance. Furthermore, claimants who appealed their denied claims with legal representation had higher success rates at the hearing level.

Attorneys play a crucial role in the disability claims process by:

  1. Gathering and Presenting Evidence: Attorneys work with medical professionals to gather comprehensive evidence that supports the claimant’s disability. They ensure that medical records, test results, and other documentation are presented in a manner that strengthens the case.
  2. Navigating the Appeals Process: If a claim is denied, attorneys can guide claimants through the appeals process, which may involve requesting reconsideration, attending hearings before administrative law judges, and, if necessary, pursuing further appeals in federal court.
  3. Preparing for Hearings: Attorneys prepare claimants for administrative hearings, advising them on what to expect and helping them articulate their disability and its impact on their ability to work effectively.

Tips for Improving Chances of Winning a Claim

While legal representation can enhance the likelihood of success, there are additional steps claimants can take to improve their chances of winning a disability claim:

  1. Seek Medical Treatment: It’s essential for claimants to seek regular medical treatment and follow their healthcare provider’s recommendations. Comprehensive medical records can strengthen the case for disability benefits.
  2. Provide Detailed Information: Claimants should provide detailed information about their disability and how it affects their daily life and ability to work. Including specific examples and anecdotes can help illustrate the severity of the impairment.
  3. Be Persistent: The disability claims process can be lengthy and challenging. Claimants should be prepared to navigate multiple levels of review and appeals if necessary. Persistence and patience are key.
  4. Stay Informed: Claimants should familiarize themselves with the SSA’s eligibility criteria and requirements. Staying informed can help them understand what is expected throughout the claims process.

Contact our Disability Attorneys Today

In conclusion, winning an SSDI or SSI claim involves navigating a complex system that evaluates the severity of a disability and its impact on an individual’s ability to work. While the odds of success can vary, seeking legal representation and following the tips outlined above can improve a claimant’s chances of securing the benefits they deserve. Contact the lawyers at Disability Advocates Group today to discuss your case and start the process.

About the Author
Ms. Shvarts and the rest of the team at Disability Advocates Group are dedicated to assisting individuals in Florida obtain Social Security Disability Benefits (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits.