Annual Statistical Report on the Social Security Disability Insurance Program, 2003

 

Outcomes of Applications for Disability Benefits

Notes

The tables in this section provide data on the outcomes of applications for disability benefits. The data on applications are derived from the Social Security Administration's (SSA's) Disability Research File maintained by the Office of Disability Programs. Each year this file is updated with information about applications for disability benefits that is then used to determine the outcome of those applications. The outcome data in these tables are reported by year of filing and include decisions made through the administrative appeals process.

Table 52 shows the total number of applications filed in a year, the number denied for nonmedical reasons before a medical decision is made (technical denials), the number that are pending a final decision, the outcome of applications for which a medical allowance or denial was made, and award and allowance rates. Applications for which a medical allowance or denial decision was made but which were subsequently denied for nonmedical reasons are shown under the medical decision header as subsequent denials. The most common nonmedical reason for denying a claim is insufficient number of recent work credits.

The allowance rate is calculated by dividing the number of medical allowances (including subsequent technical denials) by the total number of medical decisions made for a 1-year cohort. The award rate is a broader program measure that is calculated as the number of allowances minus subsequent denials divided by total applications (minus pending claims) filed for a given year.

Claims that remain pending after 6 years are probably the result of imperfect data rather than excessive delays in the decisionmaking process. It is highly probable that decisions have been rendered on most of the older claims. For more recent years, the award and allowance rates will change as decisions are made on pending claims.

Tables 53–55 show the allowance rate for Social Security only and the Social Security portion of concurrent applications (which are claims for both Social Security and Supplemental Security Income disability benefits). Each table shows a different level in the administrative decisionmaking process, that is, initial, reconsideration, and hearing or higher level.

Beginning with 2000, the proportion of claims awarded at each level of the process changed as a result of the Prototype Process being tested in 10 states. Under this test, the reconsideration step of the appeals process was eliminated for applications filed October 1, 1999, or later. Elimination of the reconsideration level in these states results in a decrease in the aggregate proportion of claims awarded at this step.

This section includes one table that shows the reason for medical allowance and one that shows the reason for medical denial (Tables 56 and 57). The reasons are derived from the sequential evaluation process used by decisionmakers. SSA maintains a list of impairments that are considered disabling under its regulations. An applicant can be found to be disabled if he or she

An applicant can be denied benefits if he or she

Table 52. Outcomes at all adjudicative levels, by year of application, 1992–2002
Year Total Pending final decision Technical denials a Medical decisions Award rate d (percent) Allowance rate e (percent)
Denials Allowances
Medical Subsequent nonmedical b Awards Subsequent denials c
All disabled beneficiaries
1999 1,265,055 8,207 104,315 441,001 4,077 705,595 1,860 56.1 61.5
2000 1,364,396 22,403 136,014 446,519 3,853 753,666 1,941 56.2 62.8
2001 1,504,773 83,114 170,323 468,687 3,709 776,982 1,958 54.7 62.3
2002 1,685,182 274,936 229,536 509,650 4,308 664,582 2,170 47.1 56.6
Workers
1992 1,310,004 0 130,885 481,439 5,725 689,111 2,844 52.6 58.8
1993 1,384,501 0 140,314 540,906 5,626 695,007 2,648 50.2 56.2
1994 1,383,092 0 130,243 573,247 5,506 671,699 2,397 48.6 53.9
1995 1,301,472 0 123,714 542,346 5,049 628,127 2,236 48.3 53.6
1996 1,313,818 6,201 116,943 531,869 5,014 651,675 2,116 49.8 55.0
1997 1,164,680 5,552 106,820 445,222 4,217 601,010 1,859 51.9 57.4
1998 1,138,101 4,838 96,663 418,672 4,215 611,668 2,045 54.0 59.3
1999 1,167,664 8,070 102,291 414,599 4,029 636,887 1,788 54.9 60.5
2000 1,265,214 22,062 133,915 420,806 3,818 682,739 1,874 54.9 61.8
2001 1,408,135 81,967 168,045 442,927 3,664 709,629 1,903 53.5 61.5
2002 1,587,452 270,885 227,018 480,854 4,251 602,321 2,123 45.7 55.6
Widow(er)s
1999 40,055 84 1,173 9,650 17 29,094 37 72.8 75.2
2000 39,996 188 1,256 8,929 11 29,583 29 74.3 76.9
2001 39,510 642 1,342 8,826 14 28,667 19 73.8 76.5
2002 38,574 2,333 1,510 9,150 19 25,546 16 70.5 73.6
Adult children
1999 57,336 53 851 16,752 31 39,614 35 69.2 70.3
2000 59,186 153 843 16,784 24 41,344 38 70.0 71.2
2001 57,128 505 936 16,934 31 38,686 36 68.3 69.6
2002 59,156 1,718 1,008 19,646 38 36,715 31 63.9 65.2
SOURCE: Social Security Administration, Disability Research file, 100 percent data.
NOTES: Data for the initial and reconsideration levels are current through June 2003. Data for the hearing level or above are current through September 2003.
Because a number of applications remain pending for more recent years, the award and allowance rates will change over time. Cases can be pending at the initial or appellate levels and can include either medical or technical issues.
Data include decisions for Social Security–only applications and applications for both Social Security and Supplemental Security Income (SSI); they do not include SSI-only applications.
Data for 1992–1998 are available for disabled workers only.
a. Applications were denied for nonmedical reasons; therefore no decision was made on severity of impairment.
b. Applications were denied for nonmedical reasons after a decision was made that the applicant did not meet the medical severity criteria for disability benefits.
c. Applications were denied for nonmedical reasons after a decision was made that the applicant met the medical severity criteria for disability benefits.
d. Rate determined by dividing awards by all applications minus pending claims for that year.
e. Rate determined by dividing medical allowances by all medical decisions for that year.
CONTACT: Clark Pickett (410) 965-9016 or di.asr@ssa.gov.
Table 53. Medical decisions at the initial adjudicative level, by year of application and program, 1992–2002
Year All decisions Decisions on applications
for Social Security only
Decisions on applications
for both Social Security and SSI
Total Allowances Allowance
rate a
(percent)
Total Allowances Allowance
rate a
(percent)
Total Allowances Allowance
rate a,b
(percent)
All disabled beneficiaries
1999 1,160,634 459,999 39.6 649,825 313,676 48.3 510,809 146,323 28.6
2000 1,228,138 501,946 40.9 688,123 340,331 49.5 540,015 161,615 29.9
2001 1,333,578 553,880 41.5 734,786 374,350 50.9 598,792 179,530 30.0
2002 1,453,089 555,725 38.2 772,283 369,462 47.8 680,806 186,263 27.4
Workers
1992 1,179,119 436,715 37.0 558,741 248,385 44.5 620,378 188,330 30.4
1993 1,244,187 421,560 33.9 571,464 240,839 42.1 672,723 180,721 26.9
1994 1,252,849 390,785 31.2 591,405 233,059 39.4 661,444 157,726 23.8
1995 1,177,758 367,293 31.2 569,960 223,457 39.2 607,798 143,836 23.7
1996 1,196,825 384,167 32.1 593,987 237,474 40.0 602,838 146,693 24.3
1997 1,057,791 357,880 33.8 551,888 228,793 41.5 505,903 129,087 25.5
1998 1,041,352 374,376 36.0 550,763 238,989 43.4 490,589 135,387 27.6
1999 1,065,271 397,335 37.3 578,728 259,910 44.9 486,543 137,425 28.2
2000 1,131,064 436,605 38.6 615,302 284,388 46.2 515,762 152,217 29.5
2001 1,239,245 490,983 39.6 664,710 320,796 48.3 574,535 170,187 29.6
2002 1,357,952 495,681 36.5 703,861 318,828 45.3 654,091 176,853 27.0
Widow(er)s
1999 38,881 24,933 64.1 29,601 21,291 71.9 9,280 3,642 39.2
2000 38,737 25,781 66.6 29,879 21,997 73.6 8,858 3,784 42.7
2001 38,165 25,501 66.8 29,587 21,804 73.7 8,578 3,697 43.1
2002 37,051 24,042 64.9 28,545 20,519 71.9 8,506 3,523 41.4
Adult children
1999 56,482 37,731 66.8 41,496 32,475 78.3 14,986 5,256 35.1
2000 58,337 39,560 67.8 42,942 33,946 79.1 15,395 5,614 36.5
2001 56,168 37,396 66.6 40,489 31,750 78.4 15,679 5,646 36.0
2002 58,086 36,002 62.0 39,877 30,115 75.5 18,209 5,887 32.3
SOURCE: Social Security Administration, Disability Research file, 100 percent data.
NOTES: Data are current through June 2003.
Because a number of applications remain pending for more recent years, the allowance rate will change over time.
Applications with a medical decision may be pending a final nonmedical decision or be subsequently denied for nonmedical reasons.
Data for 1992–1998 are available for disabled workers only.
SSI = Supplemental Security Income.
a. Rate determined by dividing medical allowances by all medical decisions for that year.
b. Rate for the Social Security portion only.
CONTACT: Clark Pickett (410) 965-9016 or di.asr@ssa.gov.
Table 54. Medical decisions at the reconsideration level, by year of application and program, 1992–2002
Year All decisions Decisions on applications
for Social Security only
Decisions on applications
for both Social Security and SSI
Total Allowances Allowance
rate a
(percent)
Total Allowances Allowance
rate a
(percent)
Total Allowances Allowance
rate a,b
(percent)
All disabled beneficiaries
1999 398,161 61,143 15.4 210,334 34,724 16.5 187,827 26,419 14.1
2000 408,455 58,590 14.3 215,372 33,233 15.4 193,083 25,357 13.1
2001 428,465 56,827 13.3 218,180 31,934 14.6 210,285 24,893 11.8
2002 442,376 46,336 10.5 221,795 26,004 11.7 220,581 20,332 9.2
Workers
1992 419,798 53,881 12.8 190,594 25,352 13.3 229,204 28,529 12.4
1993 469,151 58,275 12.4 206,606 27,306 13.2 262,545 30,969 11.8
1994 489,728 62,757 12.8 226,010 31,468 13.9 263,718 31,289 11.9
1995 458,033 60,584 13.2 218,947 31,563 14.4 239,086 29,021 12.1
1996 464,577 65,466 14.1 226,328 33,596 14.8 238,249 31,870 13.4
1997 403,204 59,978 14.9 206,127 33,373 16.2 197,077 26,605 13.5
1998 384,966 61,742 16.0 199,261 34,043 17.1 185,705 27,699 14.9
1999 385,386 57,808 15.0 203,673 33,192 16.3 181,713 24,616 13.5
2000 396,960 55,762 14.0 209,075 31,946 15.3 187,885 23,816 12.7
2001 417,542 54,564 13.1 212,257 30,832 14.5 205,285 23,732 11.6
2002 432,347 44,920 10.4 216,420 25,305 11.7 215,927 19,615 9.1
Widow(er)s
1999 7,108 1,983 27.9 4,108 917 22.3 3,000 1,066 35.5
2000 6,353 1,574 24.8 3,854 738 19.1 2,499 836 33.5
2001 6,063 1,386 22.9 3,753 706 18.8 2,310 680 29.4
2002 5,354 809 15.1 3,364 430 12.8 1,990 379 19.0
Adult children
1999 5,667 1,352 23.9 2,553 615 24.1 3,114 737 23.7
2000 5,142 1,254 24.4 2,443 549 22.5 2,699 705 26.1
2001 4,860 877 18.0 2,170 396 18.2 2,690 481 17.9
2002 4,675 607 13.0 2,011 269 13.4 2,664 338 12.7
SOURCE: Social Security Administration, Disability Research file, 100 percent data.
NOTES: Data are current through June 2003.
Because a number of applications remain pending for more recent years, the allowance rate will change over time.
Applications with a medical decision may be pending a final nonmedical decision or be subsequently denied for nonmedical reasons.
A revised process was introduced on October 1, 1999, in 10 states, under which initial denials could be appealed directly to the hearing level without a reconsideration.
Data for 1992–1998 are available for disabled workers only.
SSI = Supplemental Security Income.
a. Rate determined by dividing medical allowances by all medical decisions for that year.
b. Rate for the Social Security portion only.
CONTACT: Clark Pickett (410) 965-9016 or di.asr@ssa.gov.
Table 55. Medical decisions at the hearing level or above, by year of application and program, 1992–2002
Year All decisions Decisions on applications
for Social Security only
Decisions on applications
for both Social Security and SSI
Total Allowances Allowance
rate a
(percent)
Total Allowances Allowance
rate a
(percent)
Total Allowances Allowance
rate a,b
(percent)
All disabled beneficiaries
1999 255,641 186,313 72.9 140,324 110,634 78.8 115,317 75,679 65.6
2000 265,565 195,070 73.5 145,579 115,556 79.4 119,986 79,514 66.3
2001 223,905 168,233 75.1 122,392 99,241 81.1 101,513 68,992 68.0
2002 83,090 64,691 77.9 47,843 40,115 83.8 35,247 24,576 69.7
Workers
1992 275,863 201,359 73.0 131,624 105,371 80.1 144,239 95,988 66.5
1993 310,655 217,816 70.1 143,997 112,593 78.2 166,658 105,223 63.1
1994 323,604 220,553 68.2 156,455 119,309 76.3 167,149 101,244 60.6
1995 301,914 202,486 67.1 150,879 113,669 75.3 151,035 88,817 58.8
1996 300,075 204,158 68.0 155,388 116,039 74.7 144,687 88,119 60.9
1997 261,773 185,011 70.7 138,645 106,966 77.2 123,128 78,045 63.4
1998 246,681 177,595 72.0 132,670 104,007 78.4 114,011 73,588 64.5
1999 251,642 183,532 72.9 137,286 108,463 79.0 114,356 75,069 65.6
2000 261,502 192,245 73.5 142,494 113,350 79.5 119,008 78,895 66.3
2001 220,783 165,985 75.2 119,958 97,451 81.2 100,825 68,534 68.0
2002 81,966 63,843 77.9 46,917 39,402 84.0 35,049 24,441 69.7
Widow(er)s
1999 2,894 2,215 76.5 2,234 1,733 77.6 660 482 73.0
2000 2,919 2,257 77.3 2,252 1,765 78.4 667 492 73.8
2001 2,245 1,799 80.1 1,795 1,447 80.6 450 352 78.2
2002 852 711 83.5 724 604 83.4 128 107 83.6
Adult children
1999 1,105 566 51.2 804 438 54.5 301 128 42.5
2000 1,144 568 49.7 833 441 52.9 311 127 40.8
2001 877 449 51.2 639 343 53.7 238 106 44.5
2002 272 137 50.4 202 109 54.0 70 28 40.0
SOURCE: Social Security Administration, Disability Research file, 100 percent data.
NOTES: Data are current through September 2003.
Because a number of applications remain pending for more recent years, the allowance rate will change over time.
Applications with a medical decision may be pending a final nonmedical decision or be subsequently denied for nonmedical reasons.
A revised process was introduced on October 1, 1999, in 10 states, under which initial denials could be appealed directly to the hearing level without a reconsideration.
Data for 1992–1998 are available for disabled workers only.
SSI = Supplemental Security Income.
a. Rate determined by dividing medical allowances by all medical decisions for that year.
b. Rate for Social Security portion only.
CONTACT: Clark Pickett (410) 965-9016 or di.asr@ssa.gov.
Table 56. Percentage distribution of final medical allowances, by year of application and reason for allowance, 1992–2002
Year Total Meets level
of severity
of listings
Equals level
of severity
of listings
Medical and
vocational
factors
considered
Other a
Number Percent
All disabled beneficiaries
1999 705,595 100.0 33.1 6.0 27.1 33.8
2000 753,666 100.0 31.6 6.3 29.7 32.4
2001 776,982 100.0 32.2 6.6 32.4 28.8
2002 664,582 100.0 37.3 7.0 38.9 16.8
Workers
1992 689,111 100.0 34.3 11.1 24.3 30.3
1993 695,007 100.0 34.3 8.7 23.6 33.4
1994 671,699 100.0 34.5 6.9 25.6 32.9
1995 628,127 100.0 34.5 6.8 26.9 31.9
1996 651,675 100.0 34.2 7.0 27.4 31.4
1997 601,010 100.0 35.0 7.6 26.5 30.9
1998 611,668 100.0 35.6 6.6 27.0 30.8
1999 636,887 100.0 33.8 6.3 28.4 31.5
2000 682,739 100.0 32.3 6.6 31.2 29.9
2001 709,629 100.0 32.9 6.9 33.9 26.3
2002 602,321 100.0 38.4 7.4 41.1 13.1
Widow(er)s
1999 29,094 100.0 14.9 2.5 24.6 58.0
2000 29,583 100.0 12.8 2.5 26.4 58.3
2001 28,667 100.0 12.9 2.7 28.2 56.2
2002 25,546 100.0 13.3 2.4 30.3 54.0
Adult children
1999 39,614 100.0 35.9 3.2 7.4 53.5
2000 41,344 100.0 35.0 3.1 7.3 54.7
2001 38,686 100.0 34.3 3.1 8.3 54.3
2002 36,715 100.0 36.2 3.3 8.5 52.1
SOURCE: Social Security Administration, Disability Research file, 100 percent data.
NOTES: Data for the initial and reconsideration levels are current through June 2003. Data for the hearing level or above are current through September 2003.
Because a number of applications remain pending for more recent years, the numbers and percentages will change over time.
Applications with a medical decision may be pending a final nonmedical decision or be subsequently denied for nonmedical reasons.
Data include decisions for Social Security–only applications and applications for both Social Security and Supplemental Security Income (SSI); they do not include SSI-only claims.
Data for 1992–1998 are available for disabled workers only.
a. Includes applications for which the disability was previously established and those for which the basis for the determination is not available. The majority of applications for which the basis of determination is not available are cases allowed at or above the hearing level.
CONTACT: Clark Pickett (410) 965-9016 or di.asr@ssa.gov.
Table 57. Percentage distribution of final medical denials, by year of application and reason for denial, 1992–2002
Year Total Impairment did not or is not expected to last 12 months Impairment is not severe Able to do usual past work Able to do other type of work Other a
Number Percent
All disabled beneficiaries
1999 445,078 100.0 10.3 17.8 28.2 30.8 12.9
2000 450,372 100.0 10.2 17.2 28.2 30.2 14.2
2001 472,396 100.0 9.5 16.7 27.8 30.5 15.4
2002 513,958 100.0 9.1 16.9 27.9 30.2 16.0
Workers
1992 487,164 100.0 10.7 22.9 28.4 29.6 8.4
1993 546,532 100.0 10.4 22.7 27.6 29.8 9.5
1994 578,753 100.0 10.2 21.5 25.9 28.8 13.6
1995 547,395 100.0 10.6 20.8 25.3 29.4 13.8
1996 536,883 100.0 10.3 19.7 24.9 30.8 14.2
1997 449,439 100.0 10.7 18.6 25.8 30.6 14.2
1998 422,887 100.0 10.8 18.3 27.8 30.8 12.3
1999 418,628 100.0 10.7 17.4 29.3 30.0 12.6
2000 424,624 100.0 10.6 16.8 29.2 29.5 14.0
2001 446,591 100.0 9.9 16.3 28.8 29.8 15.2
2002 485,105 100.0 9.4 16.5 28.9 29.4 15.8
Widow(er)s
1999 9,667 100.0 5.6 29.1 31.8 22.6 10.8
2000 8,940 100.0 5.3 29.0 31.3 22.4 12.1
2001 8,840 100.0 4.8 27.0 31.3 23.5 13.5
2002 9,169 100.0 5.0 24.8 32.7 24.6 12.9
Adult children
1999 16,783 100.0 3.1 22.7 0.7 53.3 20.2
2000 16,808 100.0 2.8 22.8 0.7 51.9 21.7
2001 16,965 100.0 2.6 21.2 1.0 53.0 22.2
2002 19,684 100.0 2.5 21.2 0.9 53.3 22.1
SOURCE: Social Security Administration, Disability Research file, 100 percent data.
NOTES: Data for the initial and reconsideration levels are current through June 2003. Data for the hearing level or above are current through September 2003.
Because a number of applications remain pending for more recent years, the numbers and percentages will change over time.
Applications with a medical decision may be pending a final nonmedical decision or be subsequently denied for nonmedical reasons.
Data include decisions for Social Security–only applications and applications for both Social Security and Supplemental Security Income (SSI); they do not include SSI-only claims.
Data for 1992–1998 are available for disabled workers only.
a. Applicant has an impairment resulting from drug addiction or alcoholism, provided insufficient medical evidence, failed to cooperate, failed to follow prescribed treatment, did not want to continue development of the claim, or returned to substantial work before disability could be established. Also includes cases denied at or above the hearing level for which the basis of determination is not available.
CONTACT: Clark Pickett (410) 965-9016 or di.asr@ssa.gov.