Random chanceWhether you win or lose at a Social Security disability hearing depends uponmany factors. These include the nature of the disability, the details in your medical records, the creativity of your attorney, and where you stand in the complex framework of age, education, and work experience.

But the most critical factor, the factor that you cannot control, has to do with pure luck. That is, no matter how good the facts that you develop, no matter how eloquent and clever your attorney may be, it all comes down to a roll of the dice.

That "roll of the dice" can be summarized with one simple question. "Who is your judge?"  SSA does not standardize the outcome from its judges.  There is no testing of reliability of outcomes between SSA judges.  With exactly the same data, judges at SSA will determine the outcome of your life differently.  Many of the differences are "extreme."

Here is a page from the SSA website that will help many claimants figure out if they have lost the case before they walk into the hearing:

From the Social Security Administration website:

ALJ Disposition Data
FY 2013 (For Reporting Purposes: 09/29/2012 Through 05/31/2013)

A listing of hearings completion data by name of individual administrative law judges (ALJ) for all ALJs in ODAR. The data includes hearing office name, total dispositions, decisions, allowances, denials and fully favorable or partially favorable decisions.

I have placed these data into easy-to-sort spreadsheets for your use with additional columns showing the percentages of outcomes.

ODS Format

XLS Format



New Server Installation


After a week of wandering aimlessly in fantasy land, Connect now has a new server. My apologies to those who tried to log in but were not able to do so. It was beyond my control, in the hands of others, who shall remain clueless.

In any event, welcome back. Sorry about the man in the funny hat.




June 19 House Hearing on "Encouraging Work" in the SSDI ProgramWork is not easy

On Wednesday, June 19, at 10 :00 a.m., the House Ways and Means Social Security Subcommittee will hold a hearing on "Encouraging Work Through the Social Security Disability Insurance Program."  The hearing will take place in room B-318 of the Rayburn House Office Building, Washington, DC.  In the Hearing Advisory, Subcommittee Chairman Sam Johnson (R-TX) stated:  "It's just plain wrong that those receiving disability benefits who want to work are sentenced to a lifetime of near poverty with no way out.  Social Security's return-to-work efforts are simply failing do their job of helping our fellow citizens find work.  We must find ways to help these Americans trade in their disability check for a paycheck that can provide a better life."


The Hearing Advisory notes that "experts are researching the challenges facing the disability program and developing new proposals intended to help more individuals remain in the workforce or return to work once they begin receiving disability benefits."  It can be expected that the invited witness list will include some of these experts, who also will discuss return to work


More information about the hearing is available at http://waysandmeans.house.gov/calendar/eventsingle.aspx?EventID=337817.  The witness list and witness testimony will be available the day of the hearing.  The hearing can be viewed as a live webcast at http://waysandmeans.granicus.com/ViewPublisher.php?view_id=2.  The archived webcast will be available at the same website several days after the hearing.


The Wilborn MethodThis looks like an interesting and helpful new book from Attorneys Ralph, Tim, and Etta Wlborn:

The Wilborn Method is a how-to manual for (non-blind) disabled adult claimants who are applying for Social Security Disability or SSI disability benefits and whose claims are at the initial application level. In a recent study, it was revealed that approximately six of every ten disability applications were denied at the initial level. Even worse, of those denied claims, only about one in four ever was won on appeal. In other words, if you don't win at the initial level, there's only about a one in four chance that you ever will! What claimants need to know before filing an application is that most of what you do at the initial application stage is answer questions on Social Security's forms. Unassisted and virtually blindfolded, many applicants answer Social Security's questions incorrectly, inadequately, incompletely, or inappropriately, all too often leading to an undeserved denial. By applying the techniques outlined in The Wilborn Method for responding to each question on Social Security’s four major forms, you can maximize your chances of winning the first time, at the initial application level, when your chances of winning are greatest. This how-to manual takes a question-by-question approach to Social Security’s four major forms (plus the one major form typically completed by a witness). Most disability applicants don't understand the disability process or the rules for proving they're disabled. The process of proving they're disabled is a mystery. If you're like them, you don't understand the process or the rules either, and you don't know how important it is to be able to answer these three questions: 1) Why is Social Security asking these specific questions? 2) How will Social Security use the answers to these questions? and 3) How much detail does Social Security need? The Wilborn Method removes the mystery by explaining the process and the rules. We guide you through Social Security’s four initial forms, question by question. We show you how to present your disability claim so that you give a complete and accurate picture of your impairments and limitations. Some of Social Security's questions are straightforward. Others aren't. For those that aren't, we explain why Social Security is asking the question, how they will use the information you give, and how much detail they need. We explain how to answer each question to maximize the chances of having your application approved at the earliest possible stage.

Order "The Wilborn Method" from Amazon