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Best States for SSDI Approvals

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SSDI and SSI approval rating by Administrative Law Judge varies drastically by state.  Hawaii has an approval rating of 73% while Kansas has an approval rating at 38.5%.  

Approval Ratings Vary by Hearing Office

Within each state, approval ratings vary drastically by Hearing Office (OHO).  For instance, Lansing and Mt. Pleasant, Michigan have approval ratings at 50% while Oak Park, Michigan is at 69%.  

Hearing Offices Vary by ALJ

Within each hearing office they can vary drastically by Administrative Law Judge (ALJ).  In Baltimore ALJ Massengill has a 35% approval rating while Farnes is at 76%.  The national average being around 45%.  

What was the worst state just a few years ago was just a few retirements away from being ‘not that bad’.  Alaska in recent time had an approval rating of around 16%.  ALJ Hebda and ALJ LaCara had approval ratings of 15% and 17% respectively. 

They made Alaska such an inhospitable location for disability attorneys that many law firms stopped representing clients there altogether.  It appears as they have both retired as neither ALJ, according to public data, has issued a decision since 2019.  Alaska is not such a bad place for disability applicants anymore. 


Top States for ALJ Approval Rating

All of this information tells us that forum shopping is difficult, if not impossible.  The time you file your application to when you sit in front of an ALJ can take up to two years.  Many things can change over that period of time.  It is important to keep in mind that even the worst ALJ, who had a 12% approval rating in 2020, awarded 28 claimants. 

The most practical advice a claimant can get is to continue seeking treatment, obtain favorable opinion evidence from your doctors and build a bullet proof case.  Let other claimants worry their judge, their hearing office or their state statistics.  Even if you get that 12%’er you can keep fighting and ultimately win your claim in Federal Court.  

Top 5 BEST States for ALJ Approval Rating

  1. Hawaii 73%
  2. Peurto Rico 63.9%
  3. Maryland 61.4%
  4. North Carolina 59.5%
  5. Oklahoma 58.9%

Top 5 WORST States for ALJ Approval Rating

  1. Kansas 38.5%
  2. Utah 42.4%
  3. Massachusetts 42.5%
  4. Connecticut 42.8%
  5. Missouri 42.9%

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October 12, 2021

Written by TC Newlin

TC is a disability litigator and one of the managing partners in the Social Security Disability Department at Fleschner, Stark, Tanoos & Newlin. He has had the pleasure of helping thousands of people obtain the benefits they so desperately need.


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