Applying for Social Security disability benefits anywhere is hard. It’s especially tough in South Carolina. Nationwide, 67.9% of disability claims are denied, with 88.4% of those denials being upheld during the first appeal (reconsideration). In South Carolina, the numbers are even more frightening, with 72.7% of initial claims denied and 88.9% of those denials upheld on the first appeal. After your claim had been denied twice, you are entitled to a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge at one of South Carolina’s three Hearing Offices. These offices are located in Charleston, Greenville, and Columbia.
Unlike the initial claim and reconsideration stages, your chances of having your appeal accepted at your hearing are actually better in South Carolina than in the nation as a whole. South Carolina’s administrative law judges approve 63.5% of the claims which come before them, compared with 57.8% approval nation-wide. South Carolina also gives their residents a hearing slightly faster than national averages. You can expect to wait an average of 341 days in South Carolina, compared to 350 days for the United States as a whole. The award rates and average wait times for the Hearing Offices in South Carolina break down as follows:
|Hearing Office||Approval Rate||Processing Time in Days|
South Carolina has 31 Administrative Law Judges in all. One of them handles cases in Charleston and Greenville. The other thirty are assigned to one Hearing Office. There are ten individual ALJs assigned to each hearing office. Each ALJ brings their own experience and discretion to the claims they hear. While there are guidelines ALJs follow, they have more discretion in how they interpret those guidelines than other SSA representatives. Most claimants find it beneficial to work with a local Social Security lawyer who is familiar with the ALJs in their local hearing office. While you are entitled to represent yourself during your hearing, you are at a decided advantage if you have a lawyer who understands the system and knows how the individual ALJ assigned to your case handles the claims in her hearings.
To have a Social Security attorney review your claim, with no up-front costs, simply fill out the form on this website. Your lawyer will only be paid if your claim is awarded and you receive benefits. Your attorney will receive 25% of your back pay or $6,000, whichever is less.