Approximately 70% of people that file for Social Security disability lose. This statistic is for all levels of review. Statistically, that means that an individual has a higher chance of losing than winning. Obviously, this is a general statistic and the facts of a claim—like age, education, medical impairment—can result in a higher or lower statistical chance of success.
That said, the reality is that many people lose their claim. As an attorney, one of the discussions I have with potential and current clients is when it is best to stop pursuing Social Security disability. This is never an easy discussion, but a necessary one.
The simplest circumstance is when an individual returns to work. To receive Social Security disability, an individual has to prove that he or she is unable to work full-time. Obviously, it is impossible to prove an individual is disabled if he or she returned to full-time work. In these situations, I would suggest the individual continue to work until their illness prevents them.
More commonly, I advise individuals to stop pursuing their Social Security disability when there is little to no likelihood of success. The disability process is a long one: a little over two years to reach a hearing. The wait is long, but the hardest part of the process is the emotional toll it takes on claimants. I refuse to encourage anyone to go through this process unless he or she has some chance of success. Therefore, I will almost always tell an individual to not file if he or she cannot win.
For example, I often meet with prospective clients that are young—which I define as less than fifty years old—that suffer from back pain. Generally, individuals under fifty years old with back pain have a low probability of success. The strongest cases require an individual to have severe nerve damage that results in the individual having very restricted ability to move around. Fortunately, these circumstances are rare. In most cases, the prospective clients I meet get narcotic medication from their physicians as their sole treatment.
This evidence is sufficient to prove the prospective client has pain and some limitations, but not enough to prove the individual is unable to perform any occupation in the national economy. In many cases, the Social Security Administration will agree that individuals, as I have described above, are unable to do the type of work they have done, but will deny them based on a finding that they can do entry level, unskilled, sit down work.
Whether you have a claim worth pursuing depends on the facts of your case. That is why it is important to consult with an attorney at Parmele Law Firm before filing for Social Security disability. It can help save you a lot of time and heartache if the claim is not strong enough to pursue.