Being disabled is stressful. Social security disability benefits are intended to protect those no longer able to work with a monthly check and Medicare eligibility. Unfortunately, securing those benefits is anything but easy and stress free. The process of pursuing a social security disability claim can be difficult and often complicates your already stressful life.
I titled this post “top 10 signs you will be approved for social security disability benefits” because I saw in one search term tool that this phrase was heavily searched on google. I want to reach those worried about whether they will win the disability benefits they deserve.
But the word “signs” concerns me a bit. When we are under stress and anxious and dealing with a strange and unfamiliar bureaucracy, we can be desperate for a “sign” we are going to win. It often does not help that family and friends may have anecdotal advice, such as “Uncle Earl wore a blue shirt to his hearing and he won, no problem!” Now that is an extreme example that intelligent people would view as superstition – but it is very easy to “misread the tea leaves” in a social security disability case!
Here are ten signs that you have a strong disability claim and have a strong chance of winning:
1. You have a medical condition that meets the criteria found in the social security “Blue Book” for that condition.
This is often referred to by social security disability lawyers and administrative law judges as “meeting the listing”. The listings reflect medical consensus as to what criteria for a given condition would mean that the condition was disabling under the Social Security Act. The Blue Book is a listing of medical conditions that are considered severe enough to automatically qualify you for disability benefits. There is a lot of confusion about the listings and the Blue Book, and I urge you to see my detailed blog post on the subject if you want more information.
For now just realize that most social security disability claimants do not win their case based upon meeting a listing. It should be thought of as a “shortcut” meeting the social security administration definition of “disability”.
2. You have strong medical evidence to support your disability claim.
The SSA requires sufficient medical evidence to show that your condition is severe enough to prevent you from working. If you have medical records, test results, and other documentation that supports your claim, this is a strong sign that you will win your case. Strong medical evidence also means you are receiving regular and ongoing medical care. This is vital to winning a social security disability case.
3. Your medical doctor supports your claim for social security disability.
Support in your disability case from a treating doctor is a very good sign that you will be approved for social security disability. This support can take the form of medical notes reflecting the doctor’s opinion, as well as a formal letter or a Medical Source Statement form typically preferred by social security disability lawyers. Take a look at our comprehensive guide to getting your medical doctor to help in your disability case.
4. You have a residual functional capacity (RFC) that limits your ability to work.
RFC is an assessment of your ability to perform work-related activities. This is something the administrative las judge will determine. RFC is basically what you are able to do despite your medical condition.
5. You are not able to engage in substantial gainful activity (SGA).
SGA is the amount of income you can earn while still being considered disabled. If you earn more than the SGA amount, you will not qualify for disability benefits.
6. Your daily activities are consistent with the inability to work.
Analysis of your daily activities – what you do all day long – is a critical inquiry in any social security disability case. You do not need to be a vegetable to qualify for social security disability benefits. But your daily life needs to be consistent with inability to work. So a disability applicant claiming inability to work due to a bad back that has an active hobby in the form of rebuilding racing stock car motors may have a problem in their claim. But if that same claimant did moderate housework and cooking, but broke the tasks up and rested several times during the day the administrative law judge is unlikely to view that activity as inconsistent with inability to work.
7. You have hired a disability lawyer to help you with your claim, and she feels strongly that you will qualify.
Disability lawyers can help you navigate the complex disability application process and increase your chances of being approved for disability benefits. Since all disability lawyers receive a fee only if they win your case, the fact that a disability lawyer has taken your case and strongly believes in its merits is a sign you may be approved for disability.
Conversely, if you are having trouble getting a social security disability attorney to take your case, it could be a sign your case is weak. You should seek the candid explanation of any attorney who declines your case.
8. You have a strong and consistent work record.
Administrative law judges tend to look more favorably on disability claims by those who have worked consistently over the years until their medical condition ended their career. There is a common sense assumption that those succeeding in their careers are unlikely to want to trade it in for the meager monthly social security disability insurance benefit.
9. You are older than 50 years of age.
The social security disability regulations emphasize inability to return to prior work for those over 50 years of age. Younger persons who cannot do their prior work still most proof they cannot do unskilled work.
10. Your testimony is “credible”.
Disability claimants need to strike the right balance in their ALJ hearing testimony. Many – particularly older men – may have a hard time admitting their limitations. Other claimants tend to “over-endorse” symptoms. Preparing for your hearing with an experienced social security disability lawyer can help you present the truth of your disability clearly and avoid miscommunication.
In conclusion, being approved for Social Security disability benefits is not an easy process. However, if you have a medical condition that prevents you from working and meet the criteria set forth by the SSA, you may be eligible for disability benefits. If you are unsure if you qualify for disability benefits, speak with a disability lawyer who can help you navigate the application process and increase your chances of being approved.