2015 Data

The following is data obtained from the Social Security Forum, Vol. 38, No. 2 – February, 2016.  The data is for Fiscal Year 2015:

  • 67% of disability applicants are denied by the Social Security Administration when they apply.
  • 88% of appeals in the Reconsideration process are denied.
  • When a case goes to an Administrative Law Judge, about 45% of claimants are approved.
  • Appeals to the Appeals Council were denied at a rate of 83% in 2015.
  • Appeals to Federal Court resulted in denial or dismissal over 50% of the time.


Disability Denials on the Rise

According to Social Security Forum, Vol. 37, No. 8 (p. 9): “. . . ALJ’s are issuing more denials than at any time. . . .   Along with the almost 29 percent decrease in the ALJ allowance rate from 2009 . . . to 2014 . . . , the Appeals Council fully favorable and remand rates have also decreased.”

Compliance with Medical Treatment: SSR 96-7p

Although SSR 96-7p permits SSA to consider compliance with recommended medical treatment as a factor in determining the credibility of the claimant, “The adjudicator must not draw any inferences about an individual’s symptoms and their functional effects from a failure to seek or pursue regular medical treatment without first considering any explanations that the individual may provide.”

Moderate Limitations in the Domain of Social Functioning

“The claimant is not a good candidate for work with the general public, but she can perform adequately, task not subject to a great deal of stress of social interaction.”  Such was the finding of an ALJ in a disability claim. On review by the Appeals Council, it was found that the, “statement is internally inconsistent. . . .”  According to SSR 85-16, mental limitations “must be demonstrated through a detailed assessment of the individual’s capacity to perform and sustain mental activities which are critical to work performance.”  Moderate limitations in this area of functioning may significantly impair the ability to respond appropriately to supervision, co-workers, and usual work situations (SSR 85-15, SSR 96-8p).

Use of the Hands in a Disability Claim

Many light, unskilled jobs “require gross use of the hands, to grasp, hold, and turn objects.”  SSR 83-14.


Per POMS GN 03101.125, claimant representatives must file the Request for Reconsideration (RFR) or Request for Hearing and the Disability Report prior to the appeal deadline or the appeal will not be considered timely filed.


A BMI of 40 or more indicates “extreme” obesity (SSR 02-1p).  Obesity may be an important aspect of a disability claim.  An ALJ is required to consider the nature, severity, and functional effects of obesity when determining the claimant’s RFC.