Notes

The tables in this section provide data on the outcomes of applications for disability benefits. The data on
applications are derived from the Social Security Administration's (SSA's) Disability Research File maintained
by the Office of Disability Programs. Each year this file is updated with information about applications for disability benefits that is then used to determine the outcome of those applications. The outcome data in these
tables are reported by year of filing and include decisions made through the administrative appeals process.
Table 52 shows the total number of applications filed in a year, the number denied for nonmedical reasons
before a medical decision is made (technical denials), the number that are pending a final decision, the outcome of applications for which a medical allowance or denial was made, and award and allowance rates.
Applications for which a medical allowance or denial decision was made but which were subsequently denied
for nonmedical reasons are shown under the medical decision header as subsequent denials. The most
common nonmedical reason for denying a claim is insufficient number of recent work credits.
The allowance rate is calculated by dividing the number of medical allowances (including subsequent technical denials) by the total number of medical decisions made for a 1-year cohort. The award rate is a broader
program measure that is calculated as the number of allowances minus subsequent denials divided by total
applications (minus pending claims) filed for a given year.
Claims that remain pending after 6 years are probably the result of imperfect data rather than excessive
delays in the decisionmaking process. It is highly probable that decisions have been rendered on most of the
older claims. For more recent years, the award and allowance rates will change as decisions are made on
pending claims.
Tables 53–55 show the allowance rate for Social Security only and the Social Security portion of concurrent
applications (which are claims for both Social Security and Supplemental Security Income disability benefits).
Each table shows a different level in the administrative decisionmaking process, that is, initial, reconsideration, and hearing or higher level.
Beginning with 2000, the proportion of claims awarded at each level of the process changed as a result of the
Prototype Process being tested in 10 states. Under this test, the reconsideration step of the appeals process
was eliminated for applications filed October 1, 1999, or later. Elimination of the reconsideration level in these
states results in a decrease in the aggregate proportion of claims awarded at this step.
This section includes one table that shows the reason for medical allowance and one that shows the reason
for medical denial (Tables 56 and 57). The reasons are derived from the sequential evaluation process used
by decisionmakers. SSA maintains a list of impairments that are considered disabling under its regulations.
An applicant can be found to be disabled if he or she



has a listed impairment,
has a severe impairment that is equal to a listed impairment,
has a severe impairment when medical and vocational factors are considered, or
had previously established entitlement to a disability benefit.

An applicant can be denied benefits if he or she




has an impairment that is not expected to last 12 months,
has an impairment that is not considered severe,
is able to perform his or her usual type of work,
is able to perform another type of work, or
has an impairment resulting from drug addiction or alcoholism, provides insufficient medical evidence,
fails to cooperate, fails to follow prescribed treatment, does not want to continue development of the
claim, or returns to substantial work before disability can be established.

Outcomes of Applications for Disability Benefits
Table 52.
Outcomes at all adjudicative levels, by year of application, 1992–2002
Medical decisions

Year

Total

Pending
final
decision

Denials
Technical
denials a

Allowances

Subsequent
Medical nonmedical b

Awards

Subsequent
denials c

Award
rate d
(percent)

Allowance
rate e
(percent)

705,595
753,666
776,982
664,582

1,860
1,941
1,958
2,170

56.1
56.2
54.7
47.1

61.5
62.8
62.3
56.6

All disabled beneficiaries
1999
2000
2001
2002

1,265,055
1,364,396
1,504,773
1,685,182

8,207
22,403
83,114
274,936

104,315
136,014
170,323
229,536

441,001
446,519
468,687
509,650

4,077
3,853
3,709
4,308
Workers

1992
1993
1994

1,310,004
1,384,501
1,383,092

0
0
0

130,885
140,314
130,243

481,439
540,906
573,247

5,725
5,626
5,506

689,111
695,007
671,699

2,844
2,648
2,397

52.6
50.2
48.6

58.8
56.2
53.9

1995
1996
1997
1998

1,301,472
1,313,818
1,164,680
1,138,101

0
6,201
5,552
4,838

123,714
116,943
106,820
96,663

542,346
531,869
445,222
418,672

5,049
5,014
4,217
4,215

628,127
651,675
601,010
611,668

2,236
2,116
1,859
2,045

48.3
49.8
51.9
54.0

53.6
55.0
57.4
59.3

1999
2000
2001
2002

1,167,664
1,265,214
1,408,135
1,587,452

8,070
22,062
81,967
270,885

102,291
133,915
168,045
227,018

414,599
420,806
442,927
480,854

4,029
3,818
3,664
4,251

636,887
682,739
709,629
602,321

1,788
1,874
1,903
2,123

54.9
54.9
53.5
45.7

60.5
61.8
61.5
55.6

29,094
29,583
28,667
25,546

37
29
19
16

72.8
74.3
73.8
70.5

75.2
76.9
76.5
73.6

39,614
41,344
38,686
36,715

35
38
36
31

69.2
70.0
68.3
63.9

70.3
71.2
69.6
65.2

Widow(er)s
1999
2000
2001
2002

40,055
39,996
39,510
38,574

84
188
642
2,333

1,173
1,256
1,342
1,510

9,650
8,929
8,826
9,150

17
11
14
19

Adult children
1999
2000
2001
2002

57,336
59,186
57,128
59,156

53
153
505
1,718

851
843
936
1,008

16,752
16,784
16,934
19,646

31
24
31
38

SOURCE: Social Security Administration, Disability Research file, 100 percent data.
NOTES: Data for the initial and reconsideration levels are current through June 2003. Data for the hearing level or above are current
through September 2003.
Because a number of applications remain pending for more recent years, the award and allowance rates will change over time. Cases
can be pending at the initial or appellate levels and can include either medical or technical issues.
Data include decisions for Social Security–only applications and applications for both Social Security and Supplemental Security Income
(SSI); they do not include SSI-only applications.
Data for 1992–1998 are available for disabled workers only.
a. Applications were denied for nonmedical reasons; therefore no decision was made on severity of impairment.
b. Applications were denied for nonmedical reasons after a decision was made that the applicant did not meet the medical severity
criteria for disability benefits.
c. Applications were denied for nonmedical reasons after a decision was made that the applicant met the medical severity criteria for
disability benefits.
d. Rate determined by dividing awards by all applications minus pending claims for that year.
e. Rate determined by dividing medical allowances by all medical decisions for that year.
CONTACT: Clark Pickett (410) 965-9016 or di.asr@ssa.gov.

Annual Statistical Report on the Social Security Disability Insurance Program, 2003 ♦ 133

Outcomes of Applications for Disability Benefits
Table 53.
Medical decisions at the initial adjudicative level, by year of application and program, 1992–2002
Decisions on applications
for Social Security only

All decisions

Year

Total

Allowances

Allowance
rate a
(percent)

Total

Allowances

Decisions on applications
for both Social Security and SSI

Allowance
rate a
(percent)

Total Allowances

Allowance
rate a,b
(percent)

All disabled beneficiaries
1999
2000
2001
2002

1,160,634
1,228,138
1,333,578
1,453,089

459,999
501,946
553,880
555,725

39.6
40.9
41.5
38.2

649,825
688,123
734,786
772,283

313,676
340,331
374,350
369,462

48.3
49.5
50.9
47.8

510,809
540,015
598,792
680,806

146,323
161,615
179,530
186,263

28.6
29.9
30.0
27.4

Workers
1992
1993
1994

1,179,119
1,244,187
1,252,849

436,715
421,560
390,785

37.0
33.9
31.2

558,741
571,464
591,405

248,385
240,839
233,059

44.5
42.1
39.4

620,378
672,723
661,444

188,330
180,721
157,726

30.4
26.9
23.8

1995
1996
1997
1998

1,177,758
1,196,825
1,057,791
1,041,352

367,293
384,167
357,880
374,376

31.2
32.1
33.8
36.0

569,960
593,987
551,888
550,763

223,457
237,474
228,793
238,989

39.2
40.0
41.5
43.4

607,798
602,838
505,903
490,589

143,836
146,693
129,087
135,387

23.7
24.3
25.5
27.6

1999
2000
2001
2002

1,065,271
1,131,064
1,239,245
1,357,952

397,335
436,605
490,983
495,681

37.3
38.6
39.6
36.5

578,728
615,302
664,710
703,861

259,910
284,388
320,796
318,828

44.9
46.2
48.3
45.3

486,543
515,762
574,535
654,091

137,425
152,217
170,187
176,853

28.2
29.5
29.6
27.0

71.9
73.6
73.7
71.9

9,280
8,858
8,578
8,506

3,642
3,784
3,697
3,523

39.2
42.7
43.1
41.4

78.3
79.1
78.4
75.5

14,986
15,395
15,679
18,209

5,256
5,614
5,646
5,887

35.1
36.5
36.0
32.3

Widow(er)s
1999
2000
2001
2002

38,881
38,737
38,165
37,051

24,933
25,781
25,501
24,042

64.1
66.6
66.8
64.9

29,601
29,879
29,587
28,545

21,291
21,997
21,804
20,519

Adult children
1999
2000
2001
2002

56,482
58,337
56,168
58,086

37,731
39,560
37,396
36,002

66.8
67.8
66.6
62.0

41,496
42,942
40,489
39,877

32,475
33,946
31,750
30,115

SOURCE: Social Security Administration, Disability Research file, 100 percent data.
NOTES: Data are current through June 2003.
Because a number of applications remain pending for more recent years, the allowance rate will change over time.
Applications with a medical decision may be pending a final nonmedical decision or be subsequently denied for nonmedical reasons.
Data for 1992–1998 are available for disabled workers only.
SSI = Supplemental Security Income.
a. Rate determined by dividing medical allowances by all medical decisions for that year.
b. Rate for the Social Security portion only.
CONTACT: Clark Pickett (410) 965-9016 or di.asr@ssa.gov.

134 ♦ Annual Statistical Report on the Social Security Disability Insurance Program, 2003

Outcomes of Applications for Disability Benefits
Table 54.
Medical decisions at the reconsideration level, by year of application and program, 1992–2002
Decisions on applications
for Social Security only

All decisions

Year

Total

Allowances

Allowance
rate a
(percent)

Total

Allowances

Decisions on applications
for both Social Security and SSI

Allowance
rate a
(percent)

Total Allowances

Allowance
rate a,b
(percent)

All disabled beneficiaries
1999
2000
2001
2002

398,161
408,455
428,465
442,376

61,143
58,590
56,827
46,336

15.4
14.3
13.3
10.5

210,334
215,372
218,180
221,795

34,724
33,233
31,934
26,004

16.5
15.4
14.6
11.7

187,827
193,083
210,285
220,581

26,419
25,357
24,893
20,332

14.1
13.1
11.8
9.2

Workers
1992
1993
1994

419,798
469,151
489,728

53,881
58,275
62,757

12.8
12.4
12.8

190,594
206,606
226,010

25,352
27,306
31,468

13.3
13.2
13.9

229,204
262,545
263,718

28,529
30,969
31,289

12.4
11.8
11.9

1995
1996
1997
1998

458,033
464,577
403,204
384,966

60,584
65,466
59,978
61,742

13.2
14.1
14.9
16.0

218,947
226,328
206,127
199,261

31,563
33,596
33,373
34,043

14.4
14.8
16.2
17.1

239,086
238,249
197,077
185,705

29,021
31,870
26,605
27,699

12.1
13.4
13.5
14.9

1999
2000
2001
2002

385,386
396,960
417,542
432,347

57,808
55,762
54,564
44,920

15.0
14.0
13.1
10.4

203,673
209,075
212,257
216,420

33,192
31,946
30,832
25,305

16.3
15.3
14.5
11.7

181,713
187,885
205,285
215,927

24,616
23,816
23,732
19,615

13.5
12.7
11.6
9.1

22.3
19.1
18.8
12.8

3,000
2,499
2,310
1,990

1,066
836
680
379

35.5
33.5
29.4
19.0

24.1
22.5
18.2
13.4

3,114
2,699
2,690
2,664

737
705
481
338

23.7
26.1
17.9
12.7

Widow(er)s
1999
2000
2001
2002

7,108
6,353
6,063
5,354

1,983
1,574
1,386
809

27.9
24.8
22.9
15.1

4,108
3,854
3,753
3,364

917
738
706
430

Adult children
1999
2000
2001
2002

5,667
5,142
4,860
4,675

1,352
1,254
877
607

23.9
24.4
18.0
13.0

2,553
2,443
2,170
2,011

615
549
396
269

SOURCE: Social Security Administration, Disability Research file, 100 percent data.
NOTES: Data are current through June 2003.
Because a number of applications remain pending for more recent years, the allowance rate will change over time.
Applications with a medical decision may be pending a final nonmedical decision or be subsequently denied for nonmedical reasons.
A revised process was introduced on October 1, 1999, in 10 states, under which initial denials could be appealed directly to the hearing
level without a reconsideration.
Data for 1992–1998 are available for disabled workers only.
SSI = Supplemental Security Income.
a. Rate determined by dividing medical allowances by all medical decisions for that year.
b. Rate for the Social Security portion only.
CONTACT: Clark Pickett (410) 965-9016 or di.asr@ssa.gov.

Annual Statistical Report on the Social Security Disability Insurance Program, 2003 ♦ 135

Outcomes of Applications for Disability Benefits
Table 55.
Medical decisions at the hearing level or above, by year of application and program, 1992–2002
Decisions on applications
for Social Security only

All decisions

Year

Total

Allowances

Allowance
rate a
(percent)

Total

Allowances

Decisions on applications
for both Social Security and SSI

Allowance
rate a
(percent)

Total Allowances

Allowance
rate a,b
(percent)

All disabled beneficiaries
1999
2000
2001
2002

255,641
265,565
223,905
83,090

186,313
195,070
168,233
64,691

72.9
73.5
75.1
77.9

140,324
145,579
122,392
47,843

110,634
115,556
99,241
40,115

78.8
79.4
81.1
83.8

115,317
119,986
101,513
35,247

75,679
79,514
68,992
24,576

65.6
66.3
68.0
69.7

Workers
1992
1993
1994

275,863
310,655
323,604

201,359
217,816
220,553

73.0
70.1
68.2

131,624
143,997
156,455

105,371
112,593
119,309

80.1
78.2
76.3

144,239
166,658
167,149

95,988
105,223
101,244

66.5
63.1
60.6

1995
1996
1997
1998

301,914
300,075
261,773
246,681

202,486
204,158
185,011
177,595

67.1
68.0
70.7
72.0

150,879
155,388
138,645
132,670

113,669
116,039
106,966
104,007

75.3
74.7
77.2
78.4

151,035
144,687
123,128
114,011

88,817
88,119
78,045
73,588

58.8
60.9
63.4
64.5

1999
2000
2001
2002

251,642
261,502
220,783
81,966

183,532
192,245
165,985
63,843

72.9
73.5
75.2
77.9

137,286
142,494
119,958
46,917

108,463
113,350
97,451
39,402

79.0
79.5
81.2
84.0

114,356
119,008
100,825
35,049

75,069
78,895
68,534
24,441

65.6
66.3
68.0
69.7

77.6
78.4
80.6
83.4

660
667
450
128

482
492
352
107

73.0
73.8
78.2
83.6

54.5
52.9
53.7
54.0

301
311
238
70

128
127
106
28

42.5
40.8
44.5
40.0

Widow(er)s
1999
2000
2001
2002

2,894
2,919
2,245
852

2,215
2,257
1,799
711

76.5
77.3
80.1
83.5

2,234
2,252
1,795
724

1,733
1,765
1,447
604

Adult children
1999
2000
2001
2002

1,105
1,144
877
272

566
568
449
137

51.2
49.7
51.2
50.4

804
833
639
202

438
441
343
109

SOURCE: Social Security Administration, Disability Research file, 100 percent data.
NOTES: Data are current through September 2003.
Because a number of applications remain pending for more recent years, the allowance rate will change over time.
Applications with a medical decision may be pending a final nonmedical decision or be subsequently denied for nonmedical reasons.
A revised process was introduced on October 1, 1999, in 10 states, under which initial denials could be appealed directly to the hearing
level without a reconsideration.
Data for 1992–1998 are available for disabled workers only.
SSI = Supplemental Security Income.
a. Rate determined by dividing medical allowances by all medical decisions for that year.
b. Rate for Social Security portion only.
CONTACT: Clark Pickett (410) 965-9016 or di.asr@ssa.gov.

136 ♦ Annual Statistical Report on the Social Security Disability Insurance Program, 2003

Outcomes of Applications for Disability Benefits
Table 56.
Percentage distribution of final medical allowances, by year of application and reason for allowance,
1992–2002
Total
Year

Number

Percent

Meets level of
severity of listings

Equals level of
severity of listings

Medical and vocational
factors considered

Other

a

All disabled beneficiaries
1999
2000
2001
2002

705,595
753,666
776,982
664,582

100.0
100.0
100.0
100.0

33.1
31.6
32.2
37.3

6.0
6.3
6.6
7.0

27.1
29.7
32.4
38.9

33.8
32.4
28.8
16.8

Workers
1992
1993
1994

689,111
695,007
671,699

100.0
100.0
100.0

34.3
34.3
34.5

11.1
8.7
6.9

24.3
23.6
25.6

30.3
33.4
32.9

1995
1996
1997
1998

628,127
651,675
601,010
611,668

100.0
100.0
100.0
100.0

34.5
34.2
35.0
35.6

6.8
7.0
7.6
6.6

26.9
27.4
26.5
27.0

31.9
31.4
30.9
30.8

1999
2000
2001
2002

636,887
682,739
709,629
602,321

100.0
100.0
100.0
100.0

33.8
32.3
32.9
38.4

6.3
6.6
6.9
7.4

28.4
31.2
33.9
41.1

31.5
29.9
26.3
13.1

2.5
2.5
2.7
2.4

24.6
26.4
28.2
30.3

58.0
58.3
56.2
54.0

3.2
3.1
3.1
3.3

7.4
7.3
8.3
8.5

53.5
54.7
54.3
52.1

Widow(er)s
1999
2000
2001
2002

29,094
29,583
28,667
25,546

100.0
100.0
100.0
100.0

14.9
12.8
12.9
13.3
Adult children

1999
2000
2001
2002

39,614
41,344
38,686
36,715

100.0
100.0
100.0
100.0

35.9
35.0
34.3
36.2

SOURCE: Social Security Administration, Disability Research file, 100 percent data.
NOTES: Data for the initial and reconsideration levels are current through June 2003. Data for the hearing level or above are current
through September 2003.
Because a number of applications remain pending for more recent years, the numbers and percentages will change over time.
Applications with a medical decision may be pending a final nonmedical decision or be subsequently denied for nonmedical reasons.
Data include decisions for Social Security–only applications and applications for both Social Security and Supplemental Security Income
(SSI); they do not include SSI-only claims.
Data for 1992–1998 are available for disabled workers only.
a. Includes applications for which the disability was previously established and those for which the basis for the determination is not
available. The majority of applications for which the basis of determination is not available are cases allowed at or above the hearing
level.
CONTACT: Clark Pickett (410) 965-9016 or di.asr@ssa.gov.

Annual Statistical Report on the Social Security Disability Insurance Program, 2003 ♦ 137

Outcomes of Applications for Disability Benefits
Table 57.
Percentage distribution of final medical denials, by year of application and reason for denial, 1992–2002

Total
Year

Number

Impairment did not or
is not expected to
last 12 months
Percent

Impairment
is not severe

Able to do
usual past work

Able to do
other type of work

Other a

17.8
17.2
16.7
16.9

28.2
28.2
27.8
27.9

30.8
30.2
30.5
30.2

12.9
14.2
15.4
16.0

All disabled beneficiaries
1999
2000
2001
2002

445,078
450,372
472,396
513,958

100.0
100.0
100.0
100.0

10.3
10.2
9.5
9.1
Workers

1992
1993
1994

487,164
546,532
578,753

100.0
100.0
100.0

10.7
10.4
10.2

22.9
22.7
21.5

28.4
27.6
25.9

29.6
29.8
28.8

8.4
9.5
13.6

1995
1996
1997
1998

547,395
536,883
449,439
422,887

100.0
100.0
100.0
100.0

10.6
10.3
10.7
10.8

20.8
19.7
18.6
18.3

25.3
24.9
25.8
27.8

29.4
30.8
30.6
30.8

13.8
14.2
14.2
12.3

1999
2000
2001
2002

418,628
424,624
446,591
485,105

100.0
100.0
100.0
100.0

10.7
10.6
9.9
9.4

17.4
16.8
16.3
16.5

29.3
29.2
28.8
28.9

30.0
29.5
29.8
29.4

12.6
14.0
15.2
15.8

29.1
29.0
27.0
24.8

31.8
31.3
31.3
32.7

22.6
22.4
23.5
24.6

10.8
12.1
13.5
12.9

22.7
22.8
21.2
21.2

0.7
0.7
1.0
0.9

53.3
51.9
53.0
53.3

20.2
21.7
22.2
22.1

Widow(er)s
1999
2000
2001
2002

9,667
8,940
8,840
9,169

100.0
100.0
100.0
100.0

5.6
5.3
4.8
5.0
Adult children

1999
2000
2001
2002

16,783
16,808
16,965
19,684

100.0
100.0
100.0
100.0

3.1
2.8
2.6
2.5

SOURCE: Social Security Administration, Disability Research file, 100 percent data.
NOTES: Data for the initial and reconsideration levels are current through June 2003. Data for the hearing level or above are current
through September 2003.
Because a number of applications remain pending for more recent years, the numbers and percentages will change over time.
Applications with a medical decision may be pending a final nonmedical decision or be subsequently denied for nonmedical reasons.
Data include decisions for Social Security–only applications and applications for both Social Security and Supplemental Security Income
(SSI); they do not include SSI-only claims.
Data for 1992–1998 are available for disabled workers only.
a. Applicant has an impairment resulting from drug addiction or alcoholism, provided insufficient medical evidence, failed to cooperate,
failed to follow prescribed treatment, did not want to continue development of the claim, or returned to substantial work before disability
could be established. Also includes cases denied at or above the hearing level for which the basis of determination is not available.
CONTACT: Clark Pickett (410) 965-9016 or di.asr@ssa.gov.

138 ♦ Annual Statistical Report on the Social Security Disability Insurance Program, 2003