Workers paying taxes on their income in the United States typically make regular contributions to Social Security. Those contributions help fund both retirement benefits and Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits.
Most workers don’t need Social Security until they reach retirement age, but a small percentage of people develop disabling medical conditions that affect their employment. Provided that someone has a sufficient work history and that their medical condition is severe, they may qualify for SSDI benefits that can help them support themselves until they reach retirement age.
The application process can be lengthy, as it requires the submission of paperwork and medical evidence affirming someone’s need for support. Some people claim that the Social Security Administration (SSA) rejects every application it receives. Is it true that all or almost all SSDI applicants do not get benefits?
The initial rejection rate is relatively high
While it is not true that the SSA unilaterally rejects every SSDI benefits application, there is little question that a significant number of qualified applicants do not get benefits right away. According to the data provided by the SSA itself, the majority of applicants will not get benefits. According to the most recent analysis provided by the SSA, roughly 21% of applicants get benefits when they initially apply on average each year. The remaining 79% of applicants received denial notices. These applicants will then have to choose whether or not to appeal.
Between 2010 and 2019, approximately another 10% of applicants obtained benefits through the appeals process after an initial rejection. Overall, just under one in three applicants or 31% of those seeking SSDI benefits will eventually get the financial support they require. Those who successfully appeal can receive backdated benefits that reflect what they would have received with more timely approval.
Although a majority of applicants do not get benefits, a significant portion of people who need financial support qualify if they apply and appeal if necessary. Understanding that getting SSDI benefits can be a relatively involved process may help people maintain the patience necessary to persist and understand why they may need to seek legal guidance proactively before submitting a claim.