In Tennessee, as well as nationally, the vast majority of people applying for Social Security Disability or SSI benefits are denied upon application. At Reconsideration, or the first appeal, the denial rates only go up. Recent statistics show that over 75% of applications are denied and over 94% of requests for reconsideration are denied. Claimants and lawyers often ask why these percentages are so high.
When Do I Apply For Social Security Disability?
Often Social Security Disability or SSI applicants call about representation on a current claim and it is discovered there was a previously claim for benefits. If a denied claim is not appealed within the required time period, the decision or determination by the Social Security Administration (SSA) becomes final. However, under certain circumstances a previously denied claim can be reopened and revised.
The Social Security Administration recently released information regarding Allowance Rates for Social Security Disability and SSI claims for Fiscal Year 2011. The Allowance Rates are a percentage of cases approved at the Application stage and Reconsideration. Consistent with recent years, the allowance rate in Tennessee is 24.5% at the application stage and only 8.9% at Reconsideration. Put in more proper perspective, three out of every four claimants are denied benefits on their application and nine out of ten are denied at Reconsideration.
Social Security Disability and SSI claimants need to know that the Social Security Administration has not changed its mind regarding subsequent applications while an appeal of a prior claim is pending at the Appeals Council. On July 29, 2011, I discussed the recently published SSR 11-1p revising the SSA's policy for handling subsequent applications when a prior claim is pending with the Appeals Council. The SSA has now given some more guidance on the issue, but, unfortunately, is not backing down on this draconian measure.
Social Security Disability claimants beware! As noted in a recent e-mail flash from NOSSCR (a great organization!!), the Social Security Administration recently published SSR 11-1p revising the SSA's policy for handling subsequent applications when a prior claim is pending with the Appeals Council. Effective July 28, 2011, the Social Security Administration will no longer process a subsequent disability claim if a claim under the same title and of the same type is pending before the Appeals Council (though a subsequent claim can still be processed where an appeal is pending in Federal court). Certain key points to be considered:
For the month ending April 28, 2011, the three East Tennessee Office of Disability, Adjudication and Review (ODAR) offices responsible for handling Social Security Disability hearings were ranked in the top 30 for processing times. The Chattanooga ODAR came in ranked at 7th with an average processing time of 259 days. The Kingsport ODAR slipped some to number 18 with an average processing time of 284 days and the Knoxville ODAR came in at 27th with an average processing time of 295 days. There are 157 ODAR offices in the United States. Claimants should be aware though that these processing times are only the time for waiting for a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge. These times do not include the length of time for the Application and Reconsideration stages.