The ultimate outcome of an initial application for either SSDI or SSI benefits has varied over time.
Award Rate Declining Steadily
Unfortunately, the trend is not in our favor as the award rate has seen a steady decline from 2010-2018 having gone from 37.6% of all applicants approved to 28.8% of all applicants approved.
As you can see, the largest percent of denials come from a category referred to as “technical denials”. The largest chunk of technical denials is going to be from claimant who do not follow through with their claim. Many people apply and just disappear. Some get frustrated with the process and quit while others do not know that they can appeal. Persistence is likely the biggest factor in being awarded disability benefits.
Another large portion of technical denials come from a group who are not eligible for SSDI or SSI benefits. Whether that be a lack of work credits for SSD or too much income for SSI, these are the types of claimants who may be disabled, but are not eligible to take part in the SSDI or SSI programs
Subsequent Non-Medical Denials
These individuals go all the way through the process and are found to meet the medical definition of disability, but some thing happens that makes them ineligible for benefits after the fact. This makes up a very small percentage of claimants, around 1%. This pool of people is likely made up of technical denials that slipped through the cracks or maybe someone went back to work and failed to tell anyone. Another class could be those that passed away during the process.
Medical Denials make up another large portion of results from disability applications. This pool of applicants made up 28% of the total initial applications. An examiner or a judge looked at their case and determined that they did not meet the medical definition of disability.
Awarded Disability Benefits
Out of all the claimants who file an initial application, 33% are ultimately awarded disability benefits. The award could happen at the initial application stage, reconsideration, the hearing level or the appeals council. If you remove the technical denials from the equation, just over 50% of disability applicants will go on to win disability benefits at some point throughout the process.
|Year||Total||Pending final decision||Technical denials a||Medical decisions||Award rate d (percent)||Allowance rate e (percent)|
|Medical||Subsequent nonmedical b||Awards||Subsequent denials c|
|Year||Total||Pending final decision||Technical denials||Medical Denial||Nonmedical Denial||Awards||Subsequent denials||A|
|Percent of Applicants||2%||35%||28%||1%||33%||0%||33%|