Less Than 30%

 A recent article on msnbc.com reported that Social Security disability claims are increasing rapidly. The article says that the nation’s economic downturn and arrival of the baby boomer generation at the peak years of disability are the causes of this stark upturn.

To get this benefit (commonly known as SSDI), claimants must prove they are unable to work because of a medical condition that is expected to sideline them for at least one year or is expected to result in death. Almost two-thirds of first SSDI applications are rejected by the Social Security Administration, benefits being provided only in the most obvious cases, such as terminal cancer, etc.

The next step after rejection of a first application is a request for reconsideration which is a review of the initial decision. These requests are dealt with, usually within a few months, and approximately 14% of those requests to overturn the adverse decision on the first application, are granted.

The next step for those who pursue SSDI benefits is to file for an in-person hearing before an administrative law judge. At this hearing new evidence may be introduced and the judge, who will make the decision, actually sees and evaluates the claimant. About 55% of these hearings result in a turnaround with SSDI benefits being granted.

The big problem with these hearings by a judge is that it can take up to 2 years from filing for such a hearing to the date of hearing. And, during that wait, the claimant may not have any income on which to live.

What it all boils down to is that fewer than 35% of claimants ever win entitlement to SSDI payments. Not only is the number cut by the findings in the proceedings, but the number is whittled down further by the “wimp”  factor, a pervasive tendency among claimants to give up because of their personality or their attitude that “you can’t fight City Hall”.

Which leads us to wonder – the number of SSDI applications has soared. Will the number of those who get benefits do likewise?