Filing a successful Social Security disability claim is not as easy as one would think. In fact, 32.1% of the Social Security disability claims in Pennsylvania are denied (this number is on par with national levels, which are also 32.1%). Of course, you can appeal the decision, but the chances of approval are even worse in the first phase of the appeals process (reconsideration). While Pennsylvania’s denial rate of 80.5% for reconsideration is considerably better than the national average (88.4% denied nationally), the vast majority of claimants will have to wait until their hearing before an administrative law judge (ALJ) to have a significant chance of approval. Pennsylvania has eight Hearing Offices where you can go to have your case heard by an ALJ. Two of them are in Philadelphia. The others are in Wilkes Barre, Seven Fields, Pittsburgh, Elkins Park, Harrisburg, and Johnstown.
Most successful Social Security disability claims are approved during the hearing, largely because the ALJs have more leeway in the way they handle claims and can actually see and hear you while you present evidence of your disability. Overall, 55.9% of Pennsylvania disability hearings result in an disability benefits being awarded. Although this is slightly lower than the national average of 57.8%, it is still-by far-the best opportunity you will have for your benefits to be approved. On average, Pennsylvania residents wait 364 days for their hearing before an ALJ. The national average is 350 days. Some Hearing Offices are more favorable than others. Following is a breakdown of the wait times and award rates for Pennsylvania’s Hearing Offices:
|Hearing Office||Approval Rate||Processing Time in Days|
There are only 93 Administrative Law Judges tasked with handling all of the hearings across the entire state. Of these, twelve handle cases in Wilkes Barre, ten handle claims in Seven Fields, nine handle claims in Pittsburgh, eleven handle claims in East Philadelphia, ten handle claims in Philadelphia, twelve handle claims in Elkins Park, nine handle claims in Harrisburg, and nine handle claims in Johnstown (a few ALJs handle claims in multiple locations). Because they handle cases in their area regularly, local Social Security lawyers are in the best position to know how to win an appeal before a given ALJ.
You can have a free consultation with a local disability attorney with no obligation. All you need to do is fill out the form on this web page and a Social Security attorney will contact you. You only get one chance at your hearing. Local Social Security lawyers can help you make the most of it.