Does Social Security Disability Deny Everyone the First Time They Apply?

No, but Social Security denies about 70% of disability claimants after the initial application.

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Question

Is is true that Social Security denies everyone after they file a application, to force them to have to appeal to get disability benefits?

Answer

No, it is a myth that all disability claims are denied the first time around. The Social Security Administration (SSA) has no regulation, policy, or formula that influences the disability system in such a way that almost every initial application for Social Security disability benefits is automatically denied. But it's easy to see how so many people would believe that Social Security has such a policy. Though the approval statistics vary by state, nationwide, about 70% of all disability claims are denied on the first application filed with the Social Security Administration. And Social Security will keep denying you for disability if you continue to make new applications instead of filing an appeal (generally, the goal is to eventually get your case heard by a judge in an appeal, which gives you the best chance of winning).

Some people also believe that the SSA denies claims for SSDI (Social Security Disability Insurance) to delay a case, hoping that the applicant's eligibility for SSDI will run out before the applicant can file another claim. This isn't true, either, although it does sometimes happen that an applicant will be denied on a disability claim and will file a new application at a later date, only to find that his or her insured status for Social Security disability benefits has expired. When this happens, an applicant's only option is to hire a lawyer to get the prior disability claim reopened or file an SSI disability application (SSI is the low-income program, which pays lower benefits than SSDI).

What does it mean when we say that an applicant's insured status for Social Security Disability has run out? SSDI is like an insurance policy, and every SSDI applicant has something called a DLI, or date last insured. The DLI is based on a person's work history in the last five out of ten years. The DLI can basically be thought of as an expiration date for Social Security Disability benefits. For more information, see our article on the date last insured (DLI).

In short, while many, many applicants for Social Security do get denied, those that have very severe impairments that make it impossible to work are often able to get benefits on the first try. To significantly improve your chances of winning your disability case the first time around, you should:

Read more of the Top Ten Social Security Disability Myths.

Updated by: , J.D.

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