Odds of Winning Social Security Disability: An Uphill Battle
When you’re used to working, earning paychecks and paying taxes—but now you can’t work because of a harsh turn in your health—the type of disability benefit you probably want is called Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI).
It is, literally, insurance that you paid for with Social Security taxes. Instead of being run by an insurance company, it’s run by the government. But it’s not a handout. As long as you worked enough, you should be covered under this insurance when you must stop working for medical reasons.
The monthly income that you get from SSDI is based partly on how much you made on the job. So it’s possible you’ll get more from SSDI than other government disability benefits, which are based purely on having low financial resources.
But Social Security has tough rules to get these benefits. They’re trying to be sure no one undeserving gets approved for government-run aid. But the rules end up making it harder even for deserving people to win benefits.
Most people, by far, get denied disability benefits when they first apply. So what are your odds of winning Social Security Disability?
Take a look at these numbers from the Social Security Administration (SSA):
- 1.8 million people applied for SSDI in 2021 (according to initial numbers in 2022).
- 572,000 were awarded benefits that year.
- Applications approved out of the total came to 31.8 percent.
This situation—low rates of disability benefits approval—has been about the same for years.
Another Social Security report that covered a recent 10-year period found that only 21 percent of initial applications were approved on average over all those years. After people appealed their denials, the approval rate only made it to 31 percent.
So 69 percent got turned down.
What about in Indianapolis and Indiana?
For the state and local areas, you can look at approvals from the local disability judges. When you appeal a denial, one of the most important steps is going to a hearing with a Social Security administrative law judge.
Judges in different places award benefits at different rates. From September 2021 to July 2022, Indiana’s four hearing offices had these approval rates according to Social Security numbers:
- In the Evansville Social Security hearing office, it was 47%.
- Indianapolis judges awarded benefits 46% percent of the time.
- Fort Wayne was 43%.
- Valparaiso was 48%
- All of Indiana combined was 46%.
You can see that the chance of winning Social Security Disability benefits goes up when you go to a hearing, but it’s still difficult.
It’s the specifics of your situation that will determine exactly what your chances are of getting disability benefits.
If you’re wondering where you might stand, Hanley Disability will provide an initial consultation for FREE.