If you apply for Social Security disability benefits, it can often seem like an endless waiting game. You are likely nervous and anxious about whether or not your claim will be approved. If you have already hired a disability attorney, they can assist you with the process and offer legal advice about your chances of success. But, there are also some signs you can watch for on your own to determine whether your disability claim will likely be approved. Keep reading as we give you seven signs your disability claim will be approved.
7 Signs Your Disability Claim Will Be Approved
The Social Security Administration (SSA) closely examines each disability application to ensure it meets the requirements for disability benefits. Many applications are denied for a number of different reasons. However, there are quite a few things that successful applications have in common. Here are the seven most common signs that your SSDI application will be approved.
#1. You Meet The Non-Medical Criteria
In addition to providing sufficient medical evidence of your disability claim, you will also need to prove your non-medical eligibility for disability benefits. One of the biggest non-medical requirements for receiving Social Security disability benefits is having sufficient work credits. To qualify for SSDI benefits, you must have enough work credits to be eligible for the program. For most people, this means that they must have worked full-time for at least five out of the last ten years. There are some special exceptions that allow younger individuals an opportunity to qualify with fewer work credits, but this is a good general rule. Having the required work history is a great first step toward getting your initial application approved, and it can make the application process for Social Security benefits much smoother!
#2. You Present Sufficient Medical Evidence
Presenting sufficient medical records that prove your disability is likely the biggest telltale sign that your disability claim will be approved. You must have a medical condition that prevents you from working, and many people fail to adequately prove their medical condition. You may have a single impairment or multiple impairments, but you must present enough evidence to prove your claim for Social Security disability insurance benefits. These medical records might consist of doctor’s visit records, test results, therapy notes, or other medical documentation.
The records that you submit will need to be from medical professionals and not just your own testimony. While your testimony is important, the medical records can often make or break your disability case. When it comes to medical evidence, the same general rules apply to both Social Security disability insurance (SSDI) benefits and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits. If you have records that prove you are disabled, there is a good chance your claim will be approved.
#3. You Earn Less Than The SGA Amount
To qualify for disability, you must earn less than the substantial gainful activity amount. For 2022, this amount is $1,350 for non-blind applicants and $2,260 for blind applicants. If you are earning less than these amounts, it is a good sign that you cannot perform a substantial gainful activity due to your disability. Earning less than this amount will not automatically qualify you for benefits, but earning more than this amount will disqualify your Social Security disability claim.
#4. You Cannot Work For At Least 12 Months
Some claimants believe that they can receive disability payments just because they cannot work for a couple of months. However, that is not the case. To qualify for benefits, you must have a disability that has either lasted or is expected to last for at least 12 months. This helps to ensure that disability benefits are reserved for only the most severe cases. So, if you have already missed 12 months of work because of your disability, that is a good sign that your case is likely to be approved. Similarly, if your doctor believes that your condition will last at least 12 months, you can go ahead and apply for benefits.
#5. You Meet A Blue Book Listing
SSA’s Blue Book can be an extremely useful tool for getting your disability claim approved. The Blue Book contains a listing of impairments that are considered to be automatic qualifiers for benefits. The book contains both physical and mental disorders that will qualify you for disability. So, if you meet a Blue Book listing, that is an extremely good sign that your claim will be approved. There is one small disclaimer: even if you have one of the impairments listed in the Blue Book, it does not always mean that your claim will be approved. You might still need a disability lawyer to assist you with an appeal to get your application approved. However, if your lawyer determines that your condition meets a Blue Book listing, he or she has a great chance of getting your claim approved by an administrative law judge on appeal.
#6. You Are Working With A Social Security Disability Attorney
Hiring a law firm to represent you during your disability claim can greatly increase your odds of approval. The Social Security disability process can be complex and confusing. Many people attempt to navigate the claims process on their own, and they often do not get the results they had hoped for. Many disability benefit applications are denied because they are not completed properly or the claimant did not include the proper medical evidence. Hiring an attorney to represent you means that they will help you navigate the process and they can advise you at each step of the way. People with a disability attorney have a much higher chance of success than those without one. So, if you are already working with a Social Security disability attorney, that is a good sign that your claim will ultimately be approved.
#7. An Administrative Law Judge Approves Your Claim At The Hearing
If you go through the appeals process, it’s likely you will appear in front of an administrative law judge to hear your case. After you present your case to the judge, he or she will usually not comment on it until the official ruling is issued. However, there are some instances when the judge will go ahead and let you know at the hearing that your claim will be approved. If the judge tells you that your claim will be approved, that is one of the best signs that you won your SSDI hearing! While this doesn’t happen frequently, it sometimes happens and is a sure sign that you will be approved for disability.
Appealing A Social Security Disability Decision
So, what happens if your initial application for disability benefits is denied? You have a right to an appeal. Most people choose to hire a disability lawyer to help them through the appeals process. First, you can request a reconsideration of your claim. This means that your claim will be reconsidered by a different entity within Social Security, and it could be approved there. Most of the time, your appeal will go to the next step, which is a hearing with an administrative law judge.
You will present your claim and medical evidence to the judge during the hearing. The judge might ask about your past work and your ability to perform any type of work. He or she will also examine all the medical records that you have provided to support your claim. If your claim is still denied by the judge, you have a right to bring your claim to federal court. Very few claims end up in Federal court, as most claims denied by a judge do not have enough merit to warrant continuing to fight the claim.
The Bottom Line
Getting approved for disability can be crucial for many people who are unable to work due to a medical condition. While there is no way to know for certain whether your claim will be approved, there are several things that you can look for that point in the right direction. If you earn below SGA, have missed 12 months of work, or meet a Blue Book listing, those are all signs of a good disability hearing. Working with a disability attorney will also improve your odds of success. Remember, even if your claim is initially denied, you have the right to appeal that decision!
Frequently Asked Questions
How do I know if I have been approved for Social Security disability?
The Social Security Administration will notify you of their decision. You will receive either an award letter or a letter of denial in the mail. Remember that it can sometimes take months to get an official decision on your case. You can also check the status of your claim online through SSA.gov. This is often the quickest way to get updates on your case, and you can easily see whether your claim was approved online.
How long does it take for a decision to be made on disability?
In most cases, you should get an initial decision within 3 to 5 months of your application. There are a few types of conditions that are considered “fast track” disabilities. These conditions can get you approved for benefits within a month or two. If you have to appeal a denial, then your disability case could go on for 12 to 18 months. The appeals process can be lengthy, and it could be nearly two years from the time of your application until you receive approval for benefits on appeal.
What is the process of applying for disability?
The process of applying for disability is fairly simple. You need to complete an application and provide a copy of your medical records that prove your disability. The application can be completed in person, over the phone, or online. SSA will make an initial decision after all the documentation has been provided. If you are denied benefits, then you can start the reconsideration and appeals process. There are deadlines in that process that must be followed, and it is generally wise to hire a disability lawyer to help you through the appeals process.
How do I know if I am eligible for disability?
To be eligible for SSDI, you must have a medical impairment that prevents you from performing a substantial gainful activity. The condition must have lasted or be expected to last at least 12 months. You must also have enough work credits to qualify for SSDI. If you believe you may qualify, then go ahead and complete an application. You can also talk to an attorney about your eligibility. Most disability attorneys offer a free consultation, and they can advise you on what conditions qualify for disability and the chances of success with your claim.