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Is it true everyone gets denied SSDI benefits initially?

On Behalf of | Jun 10, 2024 | Social Security Disability

Working adults make contributions to Social Security with every paycheck they receive. Small business owners and self-employed professionals make estimated payments that include Social Security contributions. People sometimes make claims against what they contributed to Social Security after they retire.

However, some people do not get to finish their careers the way that they long planned. Injuries and unexpected medical challenges can force people to stop working long before they are old enough to fully retire. Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits serve as a key protection for those who cannot work but are not yet old enough to retire.

People coping with serious and disabling medical conditions might apply for SSDI benefits. Unfortunately, many people talk themselves out of seeking SSDI benefits because they have heard stories of how the Social Security Administration (SSA) denies everyone initially. Is it true that rejection is near-universal for SSDI applicants?

Approximately one-fifth of applicants get benefits quickly

The basis for the urban legend that the SSA denies everyone initially is the low initial approval rate. Between 2010 and 2019, the SSA approved approximately 21% of applicants when they initially submitted paperwork seeking benefits.

Some people denied benefits decided to appeal and eventually received the support that they required and deserved. When looking at the average approval rates across the last decade of applications, another 10% of applicants each year obtain benefits due to an appeal. The final approval rating for all applicants averaged over 10 years was 31%.

While a majority of applicants do not get benefits when they apply, a significant portion of those who apply do receive support. Considering how many applicants receive approval not when they initially apply but rather when they appeal, the decision to appeal is often a reasonable one.

Individuals already struggling with serious medical challenges may benefit from having support with the SSDI application and appeals process. Having help from the initial application stage reduces the likelihood of mistakes that could delay benefits approval. If the applicant needs to appeal, having an attorney already involved in the case helps them move forward with the appeal as quickly as possible after an unfavorable determination.

While the process can be confusing, applying for SSDI benefits is a worthwhile endeavor when someone can no longer work. Reviewing approval rates and qualification requirements may help people determine if they could potentially secure benefits successfully. Seeking legal guidance proactively can help to minimize the likelihood of needing to execute an appeal.