Clients for over
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“There are three kinds of lies: lies, d----d lies and statistics” --Mark Twain
I am frequently asked what my success rate is. Many firms advertise a statistic that they
call their “success rate”. Before getting into a more detailed discussion, by inference,
most claimed success rates relate to a firm or attorney’s success at the hearing level.
Even though there is an appellate process, I only consider cases that I win at, or before,
the hearings level as successes. A case that has to be appealed to the Appeals
Council or the Federal District Court is, as far as I am concerned, a loss at least until
the client gets a new hearing and wins. I don’t know how other lawyers calculate their
successes, but this is how I would do it (if I did do it).
In my opinion, there are three principle reasons for the higher percentage success rate
at the hearings level:
1. Over the years only about a quarter to one third of the claims filed actually reach the
2. The claimant has the opportunity to explain, face-to-face, to an administrative law
judge why he or she cannot work.
3. Claimants are more likely to retain an attorney at the hearing level who will “develop
the record” in accordance with his or her knowledge and experience to, in most
instances, present the best case to support a claim.
Almost any attorney, on some basis or another, can claim a “success rate” of 80% or
better; however, unless the manner in which a “success rate” is calculated is explained,
it is a meaningless number. The most basic element is the period of time over which
the “success rate” is calculated.
Another factor in success rates is the “withdrawal rate”. An attorney can withdraw as a
claimant’s representative right up until the date of the hearing for any reason. The
reason usually is that the record in the claim does not support it in the opinion of the
attorney. I will only rarely withdraw. If there is an issue (or issues) that I think may
negatively impact the claim, I will explain those to the client in a letter and orally.
The client may decide, on very few occasions, to withdraw the request for hearing. Most
clients, knowing the negative issues, will elect to go forward with the hearing (after
waiting a year and half or longer for it). I will continue to represent him or her. We may
win or lose, but I will almost always stay with the claim with the risk of a possible hit to
my “success rate” if I ever bothered contriving a calculation for it.
Social Security Disability Attorney