April 27, 2021

Approval Rates For Social Security Disability Benefits Increased Nationwide In Fiscal Year 2020

Allsup reports new Social Security Disability Program data as revealed by a Freedom of Information Act request for claims approval and denial rates 

Belleville, Illinois — April 27, 2021 Today, the Social Security Administration (SSA) released the nationwide approval and denial rates for each level of the Social Security disability decision-making process for fiscal year 2020, according to Allsup, a nationwide provider of Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits representation, having successfully helped more than 350,000 people to receive their benefits. Approval rates at the application, reconsideration and hearing levels all increased over the past year.

“While disability claims approval rates across all levels either rose or stayed the same, SSDI claimants are waiting even longer for benefits,” said Steve Perrigo, Allsup vice president. “Applicants are paying the price for the lengthy SSA office closures caused by the pandemic, and this step backward threatens to reverse the progress made on the hearing backlog if left unaddressed.”

In FY 2020, the backlog of pending initial applications rose by 30%, from 593,944 to 763,747. Also, processing times for those applications increased, requiring 11 days longer than the prior year at 131 days on average for the SSA to process. Wait times at the first appeal (or reconsideration) rose by 13 days to 122 days, while claims pending at this level increased from 133,503 to 143,781. At the hearing level, the number of pending claims declined from 575,421 to 418,313, and processing times dropped from 506 days to 386 days in FY2020.

In terms of decision rates, the largest change occurred at the hearing level, where the nationwide approval rate increased from 45% to 49% of claims. The initial application approval rate also rose from 37% to 39%, and the nationwide reconsideration approval rate increased slightly from 13% to 14%.

“It’s encouraging to see a higher rate of claimants being awarded Social Security disability benefits at the hearing level, but the lengthy wait times individuals are having to endure to even receive that decision represent an undue hardship for millions of Americans, who depend on those benefits to provide for their families and themselves,” said Perrigo.

For more information about applying for disability benefits visit FileSSDI.Allsup.com.


Allsup and its subsidiaries provide nationwide Social Security disability, veterans disability appeal, return to work, and healthcare benefits services for individuals, their employers and insurance carriers. Allsup professionals deliver specialized services supporting people with disabilities and seniors so they may lead lives that are as financially secure and as healthy as possible. Founded in 1984, the company is based in Belleville, Illinois, near St. Louis. Learn more at Allsup.com and @Allsup or download a free PDF of Applying for Social Security Disability Insurance: Getting It Right The First Time.

Media Contact:

Rebecca Ray

(618) 236-5065


Written by