If you’re in the middle of the claims or appeals process for Social Security disability benefits, you already know that it can be trying and time consuming. Even in the best case scenarios, it can take several weeks before benefits are approved. Most of the time, it takes over a year before claimant can start to receive benefits. In South Dakota, 59.6% of initial disability claims are turned down. A full 86.1% of these denials are upheld during the first appeal. While these numbers compare favorably with national averages (67.9% denied, with 88.4% of denials upheld on the first appeal), they still present a daunting challenge to anyone applying for benefits. If your claim is denied and the denial is upheld when you request reconsideration, you will need to attend an appeals hearing before an Administrative Law Judge in Sioux Falls or Rapid City.
To make matters even more complicated for disabled South Dakotans, South Dakota does not have its own Hearing Offices or Administrative Law Judges. The two hearing offices (in Sioux Falls and Rapid City) are actually satellite offices. Cases heard in Rapid City are heard by ALJs from the Denver, Colorado office and cases heard in Sioux Falls are heard by ALJs from the Fargo, North Dakota office. The good news is that 60.5% of disability claims in South Dakota are approved during the hearing (compared to 57.8% nationally). South Dakotans can expect to wait an average of 351 days for their hearings (compared to 350 days nationally). The percentage of claims awarded and average wait times for the satellite offices are as follows:
|Hearing Office||Approval Rate||Processing Time in Days|
|Sioux Falls (Fargo)||45.3%||359|
|Rapid City (Denver)||51.6%||327|
There are nine ALJs assigned to Sioux Falls (Fargo) and fourteen assigned to Rapid City (Denver). Each of these ALJs handles the claims that come across their desk differently. While they do have guidelines, they are allowed more leeway to consider the particulars of your claim. Additionally, they are the only SSA representatives to whom you can make your claim in person. To give yourself the best chance of having your appeal approved during your hearing, consider using a Social Security lawyer from the area where your hearing will take place. Social Security lawyers know the individual ALJs and have insight into how each handles disability claims.
Best of all, you can have a local Social Security lawyer review your case with you for free. The initial consultation will cost you nothing, and any additional services will only be billed to you if your claim is approved. Fill out the form on this website for your free initial consultation today.