California residents and others who have their disability benefit case heard by a judge have a 65 percent success rate in having their claims approved. While many cases do go to the administrative hearing level, there is a chance that a claim will be approved sooner. Roughly half of applicants receive a favorable outcome in their cases at either the initial application or reconsideration stages.

However, only 10 to 15 percent of cases are won at the reconsideration level. When examining a claim for benefits, an examiner will gather evidence such as medical records to determine if a person is legitimately disabled and cannot work. The only difference between the initial application and reconsideration stage is that a different person handles the appeal. Therefore, only an error by the initial examiner or new evidence submitted by the applicant will increase the odds of winning a case on a first appeal.

This is why many people may believe that they cannot win their cases unless they see a judge. Unfortunately for an applicant, a person cannot get a hearing before a judge until the reconsideration process has taken place and a case has been denied. However, by staying patient until getting to that level, the odds of eventually obtaining benefits are in an applicant’s favor.

Those who are applying for SSD benefits may fare better if they have someone helping them with their cases. An advocate may be an attorney or someone else who is familiar with the disability benefit system. Such an individual may be helpful in submitting paperwork in a timely manner or gathering evidence needed to show that a disability exists. A representative may also prepare a person for a hearing in an effort to obtain a favorable ruling regarding disability benefits.