No matter how deserving an individual may be, a study by the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) indicates the heightened level of difficulty to obtain Social Security (SS) disability benefits.

The greatest discrepancy, according to the study, happens when a claimant needs to appeal a denied claim. The rate at which the administrative law judges of the Social Security Administration (SSA) allowed disability benefits varied by as much as 46 percentage points. The SSA judges said this was due to the complexity of the cases and their own discretion.

lawyer_with_clientsThe GAO study also cited various factors that improved a claimant’s chances of receiving Social Security (SS) benefits. Significantly, if a claimant had a representative such as an attorney, they were three times more likely to be allowed benefits than someone who had no representation at all.

Reason for the Study

Initially, when claimants apply for SS disability, they're often denied benefits. There are many reasons for this, including:

  • An incomplete application
  • Not having the right medical evidence to support the claim
  • And/or not meeting the requirements of the SSA's Blue Book for the applicant's illness or condition

If a claimant is denied, he’s allowed to appeal the decision and receive a hearing before an SSA administrative law judge. However, because there are approximately 1,500 of these judges, the rate of approved benefits has been noticeably inconsistent. This inconsistency raised questions and ultimately, the GAO was asked to evaluate certain elements of the SSA’s supervision of these judges’ decisions.

Consequently, the study looked at the variances in allowance rates across all the judges; the factors linked to those variances; and the types of processes the SSA has in place to audit and track the consistency of the decisions made at these appeals hearings.

Along with interviewing SSA officials and chief judges and evaluating federal laws and regulations, the GAO used a statistical model to analyze SSA data on the decisions made by administrative law judges regarding adult disability to determine the causes of a nearly 50 percent variance in allowance rates for benefits.

Improve Your Claim's Chances: Contact Cuddigan Law Today!

Cuddigan Law understands the importance of hiring an attorney to work with you when applying for disability benefits. It’s even more critical to have an attorney when your claim is denied and you must appeal it.

Our experienced SS disability attorneys will examine your specific case to determine if you qualify for SS benefits. Contact us to get help with your application to increase your chances of getting an approved claim.


Timothy J. Cuddigan (Founder - Retired)
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Omaha Social Security and Veterans Disability Lawyer With Over 40 Years Experience
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