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Is it true that applicants always get denied initially and then win on appeal?


Is it true that applicants always get denied initially and then win on appeal?


  • This is definitely something we hear quite a bit and a very pervasive rumor that an applicant has to be denied X number or times, or can only win on appeal. The truth is that if the evidence is in the initial filing showing that an applicant meets the criteria for SSI or SSDI, he/she will be approved at the initial stage. Using the SOAR model results in higher approval rates (see our national outcomes) because we focus on getting all of the information in the file from the beginning, whereas many people who are eligible for benefits are denied because they don’t have assistance in gathering this documentation.

    Some lawyers who take fees for assisting with disability claims specialize in appeals and don’t provide the evidence in the initial stage – they wait for the application to be denied and then work on the appeal. For an application at the appeal stage to be successful, the vast majority of the time it requires new evidence that wasn’t originally presented (there are some cases that are overturned due to oversights at DDS). So, it’s not that DDS wants to deny the case from the beginning, they just didn’t have the right information. It doesn’t save them any money to automatically deny people and then send them to appeal (in fact, it actually costs them more money in adjudicator time, medical records requests, and consultative exams).

    All of that said, we understand why people think this is true. The overall national approval rate for SSI/SSDI (without SOAR) is only 29%. So yes, that means 71% of people are denied. It's not possible to know how many applicants needed more evidence and how many just didn't meet the disability criteria, but it certainly leads to many myths about the process.