Are SSDI Benefits Decisions Too Arbitrary?

Last week, the Congressional subcommittee that controls Social Security spending – the House Ways and Means Social Security subcommittee – held an important hearing on improving the Social Security Disability Insurance (“SSDI”) process. The hearing was a part of a series that aims to improve the process both for applicants and the Social Security Administration (“SSA”).

Some of the more popular complaints we hear from SSDI applicants were the subject of the hearing. For example, the variation in SSDI examiners’ rulings has been problematic – several studies and media reports have shown that whether you receive SSDI benefits can depend a great deal on what judge hears your case. At the hearing, a policy analyst discussed how the standard deviation of approval rates is six percentage points. This is a relatively large number, meaning that it is highly likely that SSDI applicants would receive a different result if their case appears before a different judge. The same analyst said that, at the initial application level, the percentage of applicants who would get a different result with a different examiner could be as high as 60 percent.

The variation in decisions is bad for both sides of the SSDI process. From the applicant perspective, it means that for applicants with similar disabilities some may end up receiving SSDI benefits and some may not for no reason other than the examiner who reviewed their case. From the SSA’s perspective, this randomness is not good for the program’s image. It makes decisions appear arbitrary, and it harms disabled Americans who need the money to support themselves and their families.

Despite the problems, the SSA’s commissioner claims that the SSDI initial claim accuracy is 95.5 percent. Have you received SSDI benefits at one point? How would you rate your experience with the application and evaluation process?

Troutman & Troutman, P.C. – Tulsa Social Security disability attorneys


    I didn't think there was a caring professional considerate attorney firm on the planet, but Troutman & Troutman proved me wrong. From the receptionist to the legal assistance to the attorney and more they were exceptional people.

    - Robert S.

    They did a fantastic job getting everything gathered up and getting the trial done as quickly as possible. Anytime I had a question they were patient and help me understand what was going on. Especially Christy and Charlie were great.

    - Michael M.

    Steve Troutman was able to get my short-term and long-term disability for me. Then Erin another lawyer for their firm got my Social security disability for me. Great people.

    - Billy S.

    Mr. Troutman walked me through the entire process. Heather was available each time I called, answered all my crazy questions, and helped me fill out forms along the way. I was never treated like I was wasting time.

    - Julia C.

    Erin and Keith were fabulous! They were compassionate, helpful, and very responsive! They made the process very smooth and painless every step of the way.

    - Valerie W.

We Are Here to Help 

Free & Confidential Consultations
  • Please enter your first name.
  • Please enter your last name.
  • Please enter your phone number.
    This isn't a valid phone number.
  • Please enter your email address.
    This isn't a valid email address.
  • Please make a selection.
  • Please enter a message.