What goes into a disability benefit decision

Indiana residents who apply for Social Security Disability Insurance are likely to have their initial applications denied. Only 35 percent of initial applications are accepted, which means many will need to go through the appeal process. However, a reconsideration appeal is also likely to be denied because it is examined at the same office. While it is reviewed by a different person, he or she is typically looking at the same evidence.

That evidence must be reviewed using the same standard applied during the initial examination. Of course, there is still a chance that an application will be approved at the reconsideration level as about 10-15 percent of these appeals are successful. For most, this is simply another step toward getting a hearing before a judge. The hearing stage is where most applications are approved.

About 40 percent of those who don't have legal representation will have their applications approved by a judge. However, the number increases to about 60 percent for those who do have representation. A judge usually has more leeway to decide a case and is more likely to approve a claim. He or she can combine the facts of a case with compassion for the individual who is asking for benefits. Therefore, those who have had their initial applications denied may get a positive result by appealing that decision.

Someone who has a mental or physical disability may be more likely to obtain benefits with the help of legal counsel. This is often because an attorney will know what a judge is looking for when deciding a case. Furthermore, a lawyer may be able to help prepare a client for the questions that are typically asked at a hearing and how to answer them in a thorough manner.

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