According to SSA, only about 35% of disability claims are approved upon initial application. This means that your chance of getting approved for benefits at this stage is rather slim.
Don’t be discouraged though. Those numbers are proven to increase after a hearing with the Administrative Law Judge (ALJ). In fact, more than half of the applications are ultimately approved after going through the appeals process.
If you want to gauge how likely you are to get disability benefits, here are 7 signs that you will be approved for disability:
1. You’ve Paid Enough Social Security Taxes
One of the first requirements to qualify for SSA benefits is that you must have enough work credits.
What are work credits?
When you work in jobs that pay social security taxes, you can earn up to 4 work credits a year. Under social security rules, you need to earn at least 40 work credits to qualify for disability benefits. Twenty of which must have been earned in the last 10 years. But younger workers may also qualify even with lesser credits.
2. You Have Sufficient Medical Evidence
We cannot emphasize enough how important medical evidence is in disability claims. The SSA uses it to gauge if you really are disabled. If your injury or illness isn’t medically documented or the medical evidence you have does not sufficiently prove your disability, you’ll most likely get denied.
But choosing which medical evidence to submit can be tricky. For one, you only need to turn in the “relevant” ones. Like if your disability has something to do with your shoulder, you don’t have to submit your dental records.
If you have a disability lawyer, getting the necessary medical evidence won’t be such a headache. Through experience, they already know what the SSA wants to see and how to make them see it. They can also talk to your doctors and get the medical evidence you need.
3. Your Medical Condition is in the SSA’s List of Impairments
Strictly speaking, this isn’t a guarantee that you’ll be granted disability benefits. But it helps a lot.
You see, the SSA’s list of disabling conditions (more popularly known as the SSA’s blue book) serves as a guide on what impairments are considered disabling enough. If your medical condition is on that list, your chances of getting benefits are pretty high.
But the SSA still looks at each individual case. Remember that each of us has differing tolerance to pain. The severity of the medical condition will also differ per person. A broken ankle might not be that disabling for one person but it can be debilitating for others.
The SSA will assess if your condition prevents you from doing certain things. If they find that it affects your capacity to earn enough, then your claim might get approved.
4. You’re Earning Less Than The Monthly SGA
Substantial Gainful Activity (SGA) is the SSA’s way of gauging how much work you can do. If you go back to work and are earning a monthly income lesser than the monthly SGA, you have a higher chance of getting approved for benefits.
For 2022, the SGA amount is $2,260 for blind individuals and $1,350 for everyone else. This amount changes every year so be sure to check the SSA website for the latest updates.
5. You Can’t Do Your Past Work Or Any Other Type of Work
One determining factor for disability is your capacity to do work. If you can’t go back to the job you’ve been doing before you got disabled, the SSA will assess if you can do other types of jobs. They will look at your age, skills, and educational attainment.
If they determined that you don’t have the skills to do other jobs or are too old to learn a new skill, you’ll most likely get approved.
Aside from your capacity to learn a new skill, the SSA will also look at your Residual Functional Capacity (RFC). This is your capacity to work on a sustainable basis despite your medical condition. If you are unable to perform basic work-related tasks like standing, walking, or running, then it makes sense that you also won’t be able to do heavy work like pushing or lifting. In general, the heavier type of work you can do, the less likely you are to receive social security benefits.
6. Your Disability is Expected to Last for 12 Months or More
This is one of SSA’s basic eligibility requirements for disability benefits. Meaning, there’s no going around this. If your injury doesn’t leave any lasting disability and you are expected to fully recover after only a few months, you won’t qualify for disability. Though you can still apply for SSI if your earnings are within the income threshold.
7. You Are 50 Years Old or Older
Not a lot of people know this but the SSA follows a system called the “grid rules” to decide on disability conditions. It works under the assumption that people who are of advanced age and have no particular skill set are less likely to find a job. This is why, under this system, disabled workers 50 years or older have higher chances of getting approved for disability benefits.
(Related: How To Get SSI Backpay Faster: A Quick Guide)
VICTOR MALCA – Florida Workers Compensation & Social Security Disability Attorney
Victor Malca P.A. has over 27 years of litigation experience in Workers Compensation and Social Security Disability lawsuits. His experience and continued success when fighting for his clients puts him among the most trusted workers’ compensation attorney’s in Florida. He specializes in representing injured workers on compensation benefit cases and disabled individuals claiming lost social security disability benefits.
Book a free consultation today. Our unwavering advocacy for employee rights and privileges are recognized by our past clients across South Florida.
About The Author
Judy Ponio is a writer and editor for the Victor Malca Law P.A. website and blog. She enjoys helping people in need with questions about social security disability and workers compensation law. She has a passion for helping those in need and the elderly with accurate legal information that can make a positive difference in their lives.