Every claimant who is denied at hearing by an ALJ has the right to appeal that decision to the Appeals Council, which is a basic safeguard of every claimant’s due process rights. Unfortunately, data released by the Social Security Administration reveals that the number of successful appeals has plummeted over the past eight years:

Year201020112012201320142015201620172018
Percentage of claims overturned on appeal21.77%21.19%18.62%17.11%14.34%13.58%12.03%10.41%11.83%

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As shown in the above chart, in 2010 the Appeals Council overturned (or “remanded”) 21.77 percent of the claims that it reviewed. The remand rate then steadily declined over the next eight years, with 2018 seeing only 11.83% percent of claims remanded. That equals an almost 10 percentage point drop in remands over that period, affecting tens of thousands of claimants who in prior years would have likely had their cases overturned.

What Does This Mean For SSDI Applicants?

The above decline in remands is consistent with the ALJ approval rate at hearing, which during the same period has fallen from 67% in 2010 to 54% in 2018. When considered in conjunction with one another, fewer approvals at hearing and an ever-falling remand rate represent troubling trends for disability claimants.

The most important thing an applicant heading into a hearing can do to maximize their chances of success at hearing (and thus avoid the need for an appeal) is to make sure they have qualified representation and to make sure they have solid medical records and medical documentation. Not only will these help at the hearing, but also, should the applicant need to make an appeal, having this documentation on the record will be helpful for the appeal as well.

About Citizens Disability, LLC:

Since 2010, Citizens Disability has been America’s premier Social Security Disability institution. Our mission is to give a voice to the millions of Americans who are disabled and unable to work, helping them receive the Social Security Disability benefits to which they may be entitled. Learn more about us and disability benefits SSDI & SSI or give us a call (800)492-3260.