Take a look at these statistics for 2008, which were recently released by the SSA and published by NOSSCR in the May 2009 Social Security Forum.
The top row shows that 36% of the disability and SSI initial applications were granted nationwide. 64% were denied. These are national statistics, but the allowance rate in Maine is almost identical.
The second row shows that, of the denied claims that were appealed, 86% were denied again at the Reconsideration level. That is very frustrating, and I warn clients all the time that their claims are likely to be denied again at Reconsideration. Tim Moore has a good recent post about why so many claims are denied again at Reconsideration.
But look at what happens at the hearing level (row 3). 63% of the claims are allowed. Other statistics show that success rates are improved when a lawyer is involved. So if you can appeal your denied claim, get some help, and hang in there for a hearing with an administrative law judge, your chances of approval rise dramatically.
There is another lesson in these statistics. Most people do not appeal that initial denial. In 2008, there were 2,526,298 initial claims, but only 546,599 Reconsideration determinations. Now there are ten states, including New Hampshire, that don't have the intermediate Reconsideration step, so you can't exactly compare those two sets of statistics. Nevertheless, it is clear that the majority of Social Security disability claimants did not appeal the initial denial.
Don't make that mistake! Appeal your denial within 60 days, get help with your Social Security disability claim, and be better prepared for your hearing when it arrives. That way, you have a much better chance for the disability benefits you deserve. The statistics prove it.