6 Signs Your Disability Claim Will Be Approved
Disability benefits are a key source of support for those who suffer from medical conditions which make employment difficult. When illness or disability limits you, it’s comforting to know that the government provides disability benefits. Unfortunately, not everyone who applies is approved, which means many applicants spend several nervous months awaiting a decision from the Social Security Administration (SSA).
At Surasky Law Firm, we have helped disabled clients secure benefits, and we know that there are certain signs that your claim will be approved. Below, we look at 6 of them and encourage our readers to reach out to us if they have a question. Our Aiken, SC personal injury lawyer is happy to assist you in any way possible.
1. You Have a Qualifying Medical Condition
You might be in pain and unable to work, but you won’t qualify for SSDI benefits unless the agency recognizes you as disabled. There are a couple ways to prove this.
First, SSA publishes a book titled “Disability Evaluation Under Social Security,” also called the “Blue Book.” This book lists impairments automatically qualifying you as disabled and eligible for Social Security disability benefits. If your impairment is listed, this is a great sign that you are on track to receive approval for benefits. SSA has already decided that your impairment is sufficiently serious.
Even if your condition is not listed in the Blue Book, you might still qualify if your condition is a “medically determinable impairment” based on accepted diagnostic tests. This is the second way many people qualify. Never assume that you will be denied if your condition is not listed in the Blue Book.
2. You Have Strong Medical Evidence in Support of Your Disability
It’s an excellent sign for your case if you can provide strong proof of your medical condition, such as:
· Diagnostic test results
· Medical history
· Treatment history
· Doctor statements
With this evidence in your file, SSA will know that your medical condition is not speculative or based solely on your subjective assessment of how you feel. Instead, they will feel comfortable that your condition is real and serious. The more medical evidence you have, the better your odds of approval.
3. You Have Sufficient Work Credits
You can have a terrible, disabling condition but still not qualify for benefits if you don’t have sufficient work credits. The number of credits you need will depend on your age, with younger workers needing fewer credits than older workers. You also must have earned a certain number of credits recently.
As of 2023, workers earn 1 credit for every $1,640 that they earn at a job or through self-employment. You can earn up to 4 credits a year. Typically, workers need at least 40 work credits to qualify for benefits, with 20 of those coming within the past 10 years.
However, someone younger than 24 will only need 6 work credits in the 3 years directly before their disability. Someone 31-42 will need 20 work credits.
If you have sufficient credits, you have a good chance of being approved for disability benefits.
4. You Can’t Work at All or Can Only Work Very Little
It’s a good sign that you will be approved for benefits if you haven’t been able to work at all for at least 12 months. Social Security does not offer short-term disability benefits. Instead, you can only get them if your disability impairs your ability to work for at least 12 consecutive months or will result in your death.
What happens if you have impairment but can still work a little? For example, a disease might prevent you from working on your feet for 40 hours a week, but you could work 10 hours a week at a desk. Can you receive benefits?
You will only be approved if you are below the Substantial Gainful Activity (SGA) thresholds based on your monthly income. If your income is too high, then you’ll be denied. If you are below the SGA limit, then this is a good sign you will be approved.
SGA limits change every year, but for 2023 they are:
· Blind applicants--$2,460 a month
· Non-blind applicants--$1,470 a month
5. You Can’t Do Prior Work
If your medical condition isn’t listed in the Blue Book, an examiner will determine your residual functional capacity based on your medical records. This assessment analyzes what tasks you can perform despite your impairment. For example, your medical condition might make it impossible to stand for extended periods of time, but you might be able to work at a desk.
The examiner will then look to see if you have worked any job in the past 15 years which you could do with your functional capacity. If you have, SSA will probably deny you benefits because you can always go back to doing an old job.
It’s a great sign if you can’t do any of the jobs you’ve had previously (and particularly in the past 15 years). That means that your chances of receiving benefits go up.
6. You Have a Social Security Attorney Representing You
Most applicants in South Carolina are initially denied disability benefits. We wish this was surprising, but it isn’t. The good news is that any initially denied has multiple appeals options. You can also have a lawyer assist you. In fact, you are more likely to be approved for benefits with an attorney working on your case than if you try to do everything alone.
Having an experienced Social Security attorney is a good sign that your claim might be approved. We can identify what information will bolster your case and attend a hearing on your behalf if necessary.
Contact Us to Improve Your Odds of Approval
Surasky Law has served as legal counsel for many disability applicants over the years. We know the process inside and out and have helped many get the benefits they deserve. If you have questions, or you want an overview of your chances, please call us today. We offer a free consultation to anyone struggling to receive disability benefits.