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Approval of SSDI claim rates varies by area

Though Social Security Disability (SSDI) is a federal program, it appears that it may be easier to get applications approved in certain locations in the country as opposed to other locations. For example, the approval rate for Social Security cases by Administrative Law Justices in Texas is more than 20 percent lower than the average for the remainder of the country.

Why there is such a variation in approvals is unclear. The judges are selected from one geographic area to hear cases in another area. The ALJs mostly only hear Social Security type cases, but these judges are often allowed to use their own discretion in making decisions. And because of the amount of discretion involved, there is a great deal of variation in the types of decisions made.

While geographic area often brings different types of ruling, the judge hearing the case may also be significant in having a claim to approve. Certain judges will approve up to 70 percent of cases, while others have approval rates of below 15 percent.

It is important to note in any cases that many claims are not granted. Attorneys representing clients in SSDI cases must do what they can to distinguish the particular case that they are representing from all of the other types of cases that are being denied. Without knowing the way the claims operate and what the Social Security Disability guidelines happen to be, it would be very difficult for most individuals to represent themselves and to expect their application to be approved.

Source: Houston Chronicle, "Unfairness in the Social Security Program: What's Geography Got to Do With It?" by Dwight Baker, April 19, 2013

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