8 Signs Your Disability Claim May Be Approved

With the Social Security Administration denying the majority of disability claims, applicants need to submit claims that present overwhelming evidence of a disability. The first step involves submitting sufficient medical evidence followed by proof that an applicant is unable to work.

Successful disability applicants obtain enough work credits, as well as earn less than the limit set by substantial gainful activity (SGA). Perhaps the most important sign your disability claim may be approved is when you hire a Social Security lawyer to help you navigate the disability claim process.

Signs That You Will be Approved for a Disability Benefit

There may be signs that you will be approved for a disability benefit, but you will need to support your application by providing sufficient medical evidence to support your claim. You need to prove that you are no longer able to work for at least 12 months because of your disability.   

Signs That Your Disability Claim May be Approved

1. Present Sufficient Medical Evidence

The SSA denies many disability claims because applicants failed to submit convincing medical evidence. As the official medical resource that the SSA uses to determine benefits eligibility, the Blue Book lists all the medical conditions and accompanying symptoms that qualify claimants for Social Security disability benefits.

You should submit the following medical records and reports to bolster your disability claim:

  • Record of medical history
  • Diagnostic reports
  • X-rays and CT scans
  • Description of treatments
  • Prescription drug receipts

A document signed by your physician that confirms the accuracy of every diagnostic test should be a part of the medical evidence you submit along with your Social Security disability claim.

2. Prove You Cannot Work

If you can demonstrate that you cannot work or perform work that is outside of your trained area of expertise, then the likelihood of getting a disability claim approved increases. The SSA requires disability claimants to prove they have not worked for the last 12 consecutive months. Your employer submits documentation that proves you did not work over the past year, but you should supplement your employer’s information with copies of your paycheck stubs and monthly bank statements.

The SSA may deny a disability benefits application if you don’t provide sufficient evidence to prove your disability prevents you from working for at least 12 months. If you have sufficient medical evidence including documentation from your doctor you will have a higher chance of being awarded disability benefits. This doesn’t only mean test results and your physician’s report but also how well you are responding to treatment and what the likely outcomes are.

3. You Have Earned Enough Work Credits

You earn work credits by paying Social Security taxes. If you earn enough work credits, then the SSA may approve your disability claim. In 2021, American workers gained one work credit for every $1,470 generated from company wages or self-employment compensation. The SSA establishes the number of work credits needed to qualify for disability benefits by referring to the age when an applicant first experienced symptoms of a disability.

4. You Earn Less Than the SGA

The fourth sign that the SSA may approve your disability claim is you are not able to participate in substantial gainful activity. SSA guidelines set the minimum monthly SGA based on the severity of an applicant’s disability. For 2021, the monthly SGA for a blind applicant is $2,190, while the monthly SGA for non-blind applicants falls to $1,310. Federal regulatory standards require a higher amount of SGA for blind applicants.

5. You Meet Non-Medical Requirements

If you have work credits you have accumulated before your became disabled, this determines if you qualify for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI). To use work credits you need to have worked the equivalent of 5 years full-time out of the last 10 years. The number of work credits you will need to be eligible for disability benefits is dependent on your age and when you become disabled. Typically you require 40 credits, 20 of which you have earned in the last 10 years up to the year you become disabled. However, a young worker may qualify without the need to have earned quite so many work credits. The amount required is dependent on age and is listed below:

  • Less than 24 years old you will need 6 credits in the 3 year period which ends when your disability began
  • Between 24 and 31 years old you will need work credits which are equal to half the time you worked between age 21 and the date your disability began. For example, if you were 29 when you became disabled, you will need 4 years of work history and 16 credits.
  • From 31 to 42 years old will require a a minimum of 20 work credits,
  • Older than 42 years the number of work credits you will need is based on a sliding scale and adds two credits every two years to the 20 credit requirement. For example, an applicant 50 years old year will require 28 credits

6. You Can’t Work For At Least 12 Months

If you cannot work for at least a year because of your disabling condition, you may have a chance at getting your claim approved and being eligible for disability benefits. If your disability is likely to last for less than 12 months, you will not qualify for Social Security disability benefits.

7. Your Condition Meets A Blue Book Listing

If you can show that your disabling condition meets the criteria found in a Blue Book listing, then this is a sign you may be awarded disability benefits. If you cannot meet any listing you may qualify through a medical vocational allowance and by completing a residual functional capacity (RFC) form after tests conducted by your doctor.

Under Social Security's rules, anyone that is capable of performing "Substantial Gainful Activity" (SGA) is not eligible for disability benefits. In 2021, the SGA limit is $1,310 monthly for anyone who is not blind and $2,190 for those who are considered to be statutorily blind. Anyone who earns more than the monthly SGA limit won’t qualify for disability benefits.

However, if you have earned enough work credits in your working life, you earned less than the SGA you may be eligible to claim disability benefits. Just like your disability being listed in the SSA Blue Book isn’t an automatic guarantee of eligibility for disability benefits, earning a monthly income that falls below the SGA limit isn’t a guarantee that your disability benefits application will be approved.

If you have had a favorable disability hearing, the Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) may tell you at the end of your hearing if you have been approved for disability benefits. That is called a bench decision. If a medical expert says your medical condition meets a Blue Book listing, then you will likely qualify for disability benefits. If a vocational specialist says that you cannot return to work and you can’t do any other jobs with your disability this is a sign that the ALJ will approve your disability benefits claim.

8. You Hired a Social Security Attorney

Since most disability claims come back denied, applicants should work with a Social Security lawyer who specializes in helping clients receive disability benefits from the SSA. An attorney can walk you through the application process, with a focus on collecting the type of strong medical evidence that the SSA wants to see.

Because the claim process can take months to come to a conclusion, your Social Security lawyer might be able to move the process along by staying in regular contact with the SSA. If the SSA denies your claim, your attorney might recommend that you file a reconsideration appeal with the SSA.

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Here is more information on signs your claim disability benefits with a specific condition may be approved: