I have a hearing coming up with a judge who, historically, grants just 33% of disability cases. For both the disability claimant and for the Social Security disability lawyer, that is scary.
In general, I do not worry about ALJ disposition rates these days. I am more concerned with the match between the claimant and the particular judge.
But when you have an ALJ that is granting claims at half the rate of the other judges in the same hearing office, you have to take note. I use a two-pronged approach for such cases.
First, you want to persuade the judge that this claim is one of the 33% that should be granted. That means making the claim as strong as possible prior to the hearing. You want a compelling personal story, backed up by medical evidence, including a medical source statement from a treating source. A statement from a spouse is a plus. A hearing brief also helps. Of course, you want to persuade the judge that the claimant is disabled in every case. But with a scary judge, you must leave no stone unturned.
Second, be prepared to appeal an unfavorable decison. Ensure the claim is an appropriate candidate for Appeals Council review. Of course, the merits of your appeal will depend greatly upon the details of ALJ's written decision. Carefully review the decision for the top issues that lead to Appeals Council remands. But the stronger the evidence supporting disability, the more likely you are to find good issues for Appeals Council review.