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How likely is a denial of benefits when applying for SSDI?

On Behalf of | Oct 30, 2023 | Social Security Disability

People make regular contributions to the Social Security program for as long as they remain employed. They send a portion of each check to the Social Security Administration (SSA) along with other payroll tax contributions. The SSA, in turn, awards them credits. Every $1,640 someone earns leads to one credit on their record. People can accrue up to four credits per year while working.

Those credits often contribute toward retirement benefits that help when someone is old enough to formally leave the workforce. However, some people end up relying on Social Security because of medical issues. Those who have disabling medical conditions and can no longer work may apply for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits well before they’ve reached the retirement age.

The process takes a lot of effort and is difficult for people to manage on their own without support. Some people even claim that everyone who applies gets rejected initially. Is it true that the SSA rarely approves SSDI applicants?

Some people who really need help can get benefits

Quite a few applicants are not successful, at least when they initially apply. There are a variety of reasons why people who apply for SSDI benefits face rejection instead of approval. Sometimes, they have made technical mistakes on their paperwork that they fail to correct. Other times, the issue instead has to do with the medical documentation they submit. They may not have proof that the condition will last for at least a year or may fail to show the severity of the condition. Those basic mistakes and oversights are why only 21% of applicants receive approval when they first apply.

Thankfully, it is possible for people to appeal after an initial denial. Another 10% of people, on average, can obtain benefits each year by appealing an unfavorable decision by the SSA. The final average approval rate is 31% when looking at the data from between 2010 and 2019.

For many people worried about how they will cover their basic cost-of-living expenses after developing a medical issue, applying for SSDI is a smart move. The choice to appeal is also often beneficial for those rejected when they initially apply.