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Social Security Disability Hearing Approval Rates Drop: Is the rise of national disability benefits companies the cause?

The Social Security Administration (SSA) released its workload data for 2013. The national average for approvals at a hearing is 48 percent, down from 63 percent in 2008. So why the significant drop from 2008 to 2013? This change could be due to the rise of national Social Security disability (SSD) companies. These companies treat SSD benefits as a numbers game, meaning the more clients they represent the more money they will receive. What these companies, or mills as I fondly refer to them, forget is the individual. They forget that the people they are representing are hurting, not only financially but physically or mentally. The people who are applying for SSD benefits are those who are in a tough situation, unable to work because of a physical or mental condition. This is not a game to them. This is real life. To these people, receiving SSD benefits could mean the difference between having power this month or even receiving the necessary medical treatment to save their life.

In general, these national disability companies do a disservice, not only to the people they represent but to the Social Security Disability program as a whole. Did you know that national disability companies are not required to meet any minimum standards? Here are just three reasons these national companies hurt the individual and the program:

1. National disability companies do not screen their clients. They help anyone and everyone apply for Social Security disability benefits, no matter if the person qualifies for the program or not. SSD is a numbers game for these companies. They assume that since the national average of hearing approvals is 48 percent, that half of their clients will win at hearing. This approach is the exact opposite of reality. Every case is different and should be treated differently. The problem with having everyone apply is that it puts the burden on SSA to determine whether someone meets the general qualifications for SSD or not. This creates an even larger application pool, thus creating longer wait times for individuals who are truly suffering and deserving of these benefits. If these companies spent time with their individual clients, learning more about them in the beginning, they would be able to quickly determine whether the individual meets the minimum requirements for SSD. This would help improve the quality of the applications admitted to SSA while decreasing the number of cases that clearly do not qualify for the program, and freeing up time for Social Security employees to focus on the individuals who do qualify.

These companies are not only making things more difficult for SSA by flooding the program with cases that don’t meet the minimum standards, but they are also doing a disservice to their clients. On average, it takes two years to reach a final resolution of an SSD claim. During that time frame, the individual is typically not working and is holding out hope that they will eventually receive SSD benefits. The individual is not provided a realistic viewpoint on the strength of their case. Thus, oftentimes, they wait two years for a decision only to find out they don’t qualify for the program. The applicant would have been able to properly plan financially during that two-year waiting period if the factory spent the time at the beginning of the case to determine its strength. I have seen too many individuals waiting for their SSD to be approved, on the brink of foreclosure, only to find two years later they don’t qualify for the program. They are then left to scramble to figure out how to save their home.

2. These companies do not properly prepare a case for a hearing. Too many times these national companies show up to hearings without requesting any medical records for the client. Sometimes it is an oversight on the staff’s part, and sometimes it’s because they refuse to pay for the records, requiring the client to front the money themselves. The main basis of an SSD application is based upon the strength of medical records. The judge uses medical records to determine your limitations and whether you meet the requirements for SSD. Without medical records, the judge is left without any guidance regarding a case and will have no choice but to deny your claim for lack of evidence. It is a shame to throw two years of waiting away just because your representative failed to request the necessary evidence. Furthermore, it is not unusual to meet your representative for the first time on the day of the hearing. Doesn’t it seem nearly impossible that your representative knows everything about you and the right things to argue when they have never even met you?

3. You are a number. You are not seen as an individual, but you should be! Every case is different. Every individual has different circumstances that affect their SSD application. National companies do not spend the time to get to know their clients, which means they aren’t fully informed and prepared to fight for their SSD benefits at the hearing. Clients are seen as numbers and statistics, not as people who genuinely need help.

At the LaBovick Law Group, our approval rates are much higher than the national average of 48 percent. We take every single case seriously. Our approval rates are historically between 80 and 90 percent. This is because we spend time with our clients. We provide a personalized service, making sure to fight hard for every single individual we represent. Our attorneys meet with every new client to make sure they qualify for the SSD program. If we don’t believe you qualify for the program, we will tell you our thoughts upfront and get you the help you need. This can be through the SSD program or from somewhere else. We believe in providing an honest assessment of your situation, so you know what to expect from the process.

We go above and beyond to help our clients obtain SSD benefits. This is because we care for every single one of our clients. We take the time to get to know everyone individually. We work with your doctors to get the necessary medical evidence. Once you are a part of the LaBovick Group we will do whatever it takes to get your SSD benefits.

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