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The Social Security Appeals Council tracked the reasons for the remands from the 102,062 claims it reviewed in FY 2010, and compiled a list of top reasons for remands. The summary was published in the July Social Security Forum, a newsletter for NOSSCR members. Download Top Remand Reasons (link opens a 1-page pdf file).

The Appeals Council continues to remand about 22% of its cases. When you consider how many perfunctory AC requests for review are made, that strikes me a significant percentage. But you can increase your odds of a remand by focusing on high percentage reasons. We will take a look at the top 5 reasons here.

  1. The top reason for remand, constituting almost 42% of all remands, was evaluation of the medical evidence or RFC assessment. This includes weighing opinion evidence and assessing RFC. This makes sense, since weighing the medical evidence and RFC assessment are at the heart of almost all Social Security disability cases.
  2. The second place reason, constituting almost 15% of remands, was error in the step 2 analysis of severe/nonsevere impairments
  3. Procedural errors/improper dismissal is the number 3 reason, with almost 14% of remands. I think these errors are clear-cut, and are easy for the AC to analyze.
  4. Step 5 – grid and vocational testimony issues constitute the number 4 reason, with about 10% of remands.
  5. Lastly, credibility determinations provided the number 5 reason, with almost 8% of remands. Frankly, I am surprised that this one is so high, because it this argument never seems to prevail in federal court.

So there you go. Depending upon the facts of your particular case, be sure to highlight the errors that are most likely, statistically speaking, to result in an Appeals Council remand.