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The Social Security Administration has released its "waterfall" chart for Fiscal Year 2011, which ended in September, 2011. The chart has been published in the February 2012 Social Security Forum, a newsletter for NOSSCR members.

As predicted, allowances at the ALJ level are down fairly dramatically, with 58% of claims being allowed. In the previous 3 years, allowance rates held steady at 62-63% of disability claims appealed to the hearing level. For comparison, here is the 2010 waterfall chart and here are the charts for 2009 and 2008.

A 5% reduction in ALJ allowance rates is particularly steep given that the drumbeat against the disability program only began last Spring, which was already halfway through fiscal year 2011. When we see the full year stats for FY 2012, I expect to see a further reduction in allowance rates at the hearing level. You can already see the trend in the fiscal 2012 year-to-date ALJ Disposition Data on the SSA website.

Returning to the 2011 waterfall chart, at the Initial application level, 34% of disability claims were allowed, and 66% were denied. At the Reconsideration level, of the denied claims that were appealed, just 12% were allowed, and 88% were denied again.

Here is a pdf of the page from the NOSSCR newsletter showing the entire 2011 waterfall chart, including decisions from the Appeals Council and federal court.