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SSA denial rates don’t matter in the grand scheme of things. That is, until they effect you. Once you file an application for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits, you start to worry if your case will just be another SSA statistic. You can file an application today on the Social Security website.

Are you going to be among the small number of people who win their case within the first three months? Or, are you going to have to wait two years to have a hearing with an SSA judge? Even if you manage to wait until you have a hearing, what are your chances of winning benefits?

You have probably heard all kinds of rumors from neighbors, family, and friends. You might have heard that everyone gets denied benefits the first time they apply. Or,  you may have heard it is better to file a new application instead of filing an appeal. You also might have heard that you can work while waiting for the SSA to grant your SSD benefits. What is the truth?


Let’s clear up some of these myths and rumors by looking at the facts. First, in 2023, about 61% of all SSD claims were denied by the SSA on the first application. That means, when you file your application for benefits, you have a 40% chance of winning SSD benefits.

Every year, the SSA publishes their SSA denial rates. While the SSA’s denial rates are only one factor that impacts your case, you can simply look up the facts to determine your chances of winning benefits. Obviously, your chances of winning benefits depends on proving your medical condition keeps you from working.

For example, if you have terminal cancer, then there is a high chance the SSA will grant your benefits. Also, if you have a medical condition that falls under the compassionate allowance list, then you are more likely to win SSD benefits right away.


Every year, the SSA releases their Waterfall Chart that documents the rate of allowances and denials. Below, you can review the Waterfall Chart for Fiscal Year 2023.

The numbers you see below have held fairly steady since 2022.  As you can see, the chances of the SSA denying your application is even higher at the second appeal step. The second appeal step is reconsideration. At the hearing level, judges award almost 45% of the cases that they review.

It is also educational to look at Appeals Council Review. Please note that the Appeals Council only grants 1% of cases. Likewise, the Federal Courts only grant 1% of appeals.  Therefore, it is best to do everything you can to win your case either below or at the hearing level. Because you don’t have a very good chance of winning benefits if you have to appeal your case to the Appeals Council or Federal Court. Learn more about Federal Court Review.

SSA's Waterfall Chart - the SSA's denial rates


The SSA’s denial rates show there is a 40% chance that the SSA will deny your initial application. If you receive a denial, what should you do? Should you file a new application? Or, should you appeal the initial denial?

Many people think they should file a new application. If you have heard this rumor, don’t believe it. Because, filing a new application is the wrong thing to do. Instead, if you get a denial, then you need to appeal within 60 days of the denial date.

The 60 day time frame in which to file an appeal is set in stone. If you do not appeal within that time frame, then your only option is to file a new application. However, if you need more time to appeal, then call the SSA and ask them for an extension of time.


Also, if you have a good reason for failing to file an appeal within 60 days, then you can ask the SSA for a “good cause waiver” of the deadline. For example, let’s say you didn’t receive your initial denial because the SSA mailed it to the wrong address. That would be a good reason to request a waiver.

Another good example for missing the deadline would be that you were in the hospital. Perhaps, the SSA mailed the denial to your house. But, at the time you were in the hospital for two months. If so, the SSA should waive the 60 days for you.

Don’t try to increase your odds of winning SSD benefits by filing a new application instead of filing an appeal. Filing a new application does NOT increase your chances of winning benefits. In fact, filing a new application can mean you lose your benefits under the first application.


While many people are denied benefits on their first try, there are things you can do to improve your chances of winning SSD benefits. If you do these things, then it will help you win, despite SSA’s denial rates. Make sure you follow the steps below:

1. Tell the SSA about all of your doctors.

The SSA bases their decision on your medical records. If you don’t tell them who your doctors are, then they cannot collect your medical records. SSA doesn’t know who your doctors are unless you tell them. Learn more about the importance of medical records in your SSD case.

2. Tell you doctor about all of your medical symptoms.

If you don’t tell your doctor about your severe symptoms, then your doctor won’t know about them. When you visit the doctor, you can’t say “I’m doing fine” or “I feel great.” If you do, then that is what your doctor will write in your medical records. For example, if your feet are numb due to diabetic neuropathy, then tell your doctor. Additionally, if you can’t sit for more than 15 minutes due to back pain, then tell your doctor about it. How can your doctor help you if they don’t know what your problems are?

3. Ask your doctor write a letter about your medical conditions.

A letter from your treating doctor to the SSA goes a long way to proving you deserve SSD benefits. Ask you doctor to explain in detail all the symptoms your medical condition causes. Also, ask your doctor to state that you cannot work due to your medical conditions.

4. If you don’t have a doctor, then get one.

There is no excuse for not getting medical treatment. Every state and city has free medical clinics. It is your responsibility to seek medical care. No one can do it for you. We have a list of free and low cost medical treatment options. Choose your state and call the free clinic for  help:


Getting ongoing medical treatment will help you beat SSA’s denial rate. Additionally, there are other things you can do that will help you win your SSD benefits. Here is a list of important actions you can take to win your SSD benefits:

1) Promptly complete and return any forms from the SSA.

The SSa will send you forms to fill out after you file your application for SSD benefits. For example, they will send you an Adult Function Report, on which you document your daily activities. They will also send you a Work History Report. Fill them out and send them to the SSA as soon as possible. Also, keep a copy of your completed form. Because, you will probably asked to complete these forms more than once.

2) Learn about whether or not the Medical Vocational Guidelines (GRID rules) apply to your case.

The GRID is a framework which shows the SSA if you fall into a certain group. These groups depend on your skills, age, education, and past work experience. If you are over 50 years old, then it is possible that SSA’s rules state you cannot work.

In order for the GRID rules to apply to your case, the SSA will determine your residual functional capacity (RFC). The RFC is the definition of your physical and mental limits.  After the SSA determines your physical RFC, then they will decide if the GRID rules apply to your case. After looking at all of these factors, the GRID rules determine if  the SSA will pay you SSD benefits.

3) Don’t try to work.

Many people think that they can try to work after they file their application for SSD benefits. Some people believe the rumor that they can work and also get SSD and SSI benefits. However, nothing could be further from the truth. Any work that you do puts your SSD benefits in question. Learn more about work and SSD benefits.

4) Beat SSA’s denial rates. Hire an attorney with experience to win your SSD and SSI benefits.

Studies show that hiring a law firm to help you triples your chances of winning SSD benefits. In our opinion, hiring a law firm with over 30 years of legal experience improves your chances even more.

When you hire a law firm to help you win SSD benefits, ask them how many cases they have won. Also, ask them how long they have been in business. You will pay the same amount of attorney fees to a law firm with over 30 years experience as you will to a brand new lawyer. Therefore, why not hire Cannon Disability Law? We have won over 20,000 SSDI and SSI cases.


Although the SSA doesn’t deny every SSD application they receive, most cases are denied the first time. But an initial denial isn’t the end of the road. You have options and you should take action.

First, try to understand why your claim was denied. If you were denied for medical reasons, then perhaps the SSA did not get all of your medical records. Second, contact your doctors, the hospital, or any other place you had medical care. Ask them to send your medical records to the SSA. Likewise, you can go to those locations and obtain the records yourself. Then, you can have a personal copy of your records. And, you can send a copy of the records to the SSA.

Once you know why your Social Security claim was denied, then you can decide if you want to hire an attorney. A law firm with experience will be able to collect your medical records for you. Additionally, they can make arguments using your medical records, about whether you meet or equal an SSA listing. Your SSD attorney can also contact and obtain the medical opinion of your doctor.


Once you understand that you will need to appeal your SSD case, you can get ready for court. Your future financial security is at risk. Don’t take a chance that you will not be ready. Hire an attorney to help present your case to the judge. You need a professional on your side. Hiring an attorney with years of experience is possible. Even with no money up front. Learn more about attorney fees in SSD cases.

Call or contact Cannon Disability Law for a free case review. Usually, we can tell you over the phone whether or not you qualify for SSD and SSI benefits. In the past 30 years, we have won over 20,000 SSD and SSI cases.

We know how to prepare a case at every level of the five step SSD review process. Also, we know how to help you get your medical evidence in order. Most importantly, you can hire us for no money down. We will work for free until we win your case. Finally, if we don’t win your benefits, then you do not owe an attorney fee. Put our experience to work for you. Hire us to be your legal team.


Now that you know about SSA’s denial rates, you may want to know how to get the SSA to approve your claim for benefits. If so, then call our law firm. We are the only SSD law firm in Utah, Nevada and Idaho with over 30 years of experience. Also, we are one of the top three SSD law firms in the state of Utah.

We are also one of the top three SSD lawyers in the state of Nevada. Find out more about our Nevada legal experience. We also help clients in many other states. We also have clients in Idaho, Colorado, and California. Learn more about Idaho SSD benefits information too.

Likewise, learn more information about Colorado SSD benefits. Finally, read about California SSD benefits information. Wherever you live, we will help you get your SSDI benefits. For over 30 years we have been fighting  for the benefits the SSA owes you under the law.

If you want to learn more about our lawyers, then read our About Us page. For instance, Andria Summers is can help you with your Medicare plan. Additionally, she has won thousands of SSD cases. Dianna Cannon has been helping her SSD and SSI clients win benefits for thirty years. Brett Bunkall also has years of legal experience. We are experts. You can trust us to help you win your SSD and SSI benefits. Contact us today. Put our experience to work for you. Hire us and despite SSA’s denial rates, you will increase your chances of winning SSD benefits.

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