6 Signs That You Will Be Approved for Disability


Waiting for an answer on your disability application can leave you feeling anxious and uncertain about your future, especially since it can take anywhere from four to six months for most applicants to receive a decision. Additionally, if you receive a denial and need to go through a hearing, the process can become even more drawn out. The good news is that if you have sufficient medical evidence, you are unable to work for at least 12 months, you meet the non-medical and SGA requirements, you work with a Social Security disability lawyer, and your disability meets a Blue Book listing, your chances of a successful claim increase significantly.

Studies show that the average 20-year-old has a one-in-four chance of developing a disability before reaching full retirement age. Basically, disability is unpredictable and can strike at any age, leaving you unable to work and reliant on Social Security disability benefits for income support.

Unfortunately, applying for and receiving these benefits can be challenging. According to the 2020 Annual Statistical Report on the Social Security Disability Insurance Program, the final award rate for disabled applicants averaged 31% for claims filed from 2010 through 2019. With such a low approval rate, it’s even more important that you take the time to make sure your application is prepared correctly.

If you’ve already submitted your application for Social Security disability benefits and are wondering whether it will be approved, here are six promising signs that your application will be successful.

Signs your Social Security disability claim will be approved

While each case is unique, there are some common signs that may indicate a Social Security disability claim will be approved. By recognizing these six signs, you can gauge your chances of success — and hopefully gain some peace of mind.

1. You have sufficient medical evidence

Many SSD claims get rejected because applicants fail to submit sufficient medical evidence to support their disability claim. If you can provide sufficient medical evidence, you already have a much higher chance of getting approved.

Medical evidence includes diagnostic test reports, X-ray and CT scan reports, treatment plan descriptions, drug prescription reports, and any other documentation that supports your claim of a disabling condition. The more comprehensive and detailed your medical evidence is, the stronger your case for disability benefits.

2. You’re unable to work for at least 12 months

A basic eligibility requirement for Social Security disability claims is being unable to work for at least 12 consecutive months due to your disability. Your condition must significantly impair your ability to perform work-related activities and earn a sustainable income. If you can prove that your disability prevents you from working for an extended period, it will strengthen your case for approval.

Your employer will need to submit supporting documents to show that you did not work during the stated duration. Aside from your employer’s documentation, you may also need to provide copies of your paycheck stubs and monthly bank statements to show you haven’t earned any income.

3. You meet the non-medical requirements

After meeting the medical criteria and providing sufficient evidence of your disability, you must also satisfy the non-medical requirements set by the Social Security Administration (SSA). These requirements include having enough work credits based on your age and work history.

You earn work credits by paying Social Security taxes, and your claim will typically only be approved by the Social Security Administration if you have earned enough work credits.

The following are the work credit requirements for disability benefits as of 2023:

  • Before age 24: You need at least six credits earned in the three-year period ending when your disability starts.
  • Age 24 to 31: You may qualify if you have credit for working half the time between age 21 and the time your disability began. For example, if you develop a disability at age 31, you would need to have worked for five years (i.e., 20 credits) out of the past ten years (between ages 21 and 31).
  • Age 31 or older: You need at least 20 credits in the ten-year period immediately before your disability begins.

As of 2023, you earn one credit for every $1,640 in covered earnings each year, up to a maximum of four credits a year.

4. You work with a Social Security disability attorney

A Social Security disability attorney’s expertise in disability law and knowledge of the system can be invaluable in securing approval for your claim. They can guide you through the application process, ensure all necessary documentation is submitted, and represent you in case of an appeal. They’ll also typically help track your application to fill in any supplementary documents that may be required.

The cost of hiring a disability lawyer is generally limited to $7,200 or 25% of the back due or “past-due” disability benefits you’re awarded, whichever is less.

5. Your disabling condition meets a Blue Book listing

The Social Security Administration uses a guide known as the Blue Book, which outlines various medical conditions and their corresponding criteria for disability benefits. If your disabling condition matches the requirements outlined in the Blue Book, it’s a good sign that your claim could potentially be approved. However, even if your condition does not meet a listing exactly, you may still be eligible for benefits by qualifying through a medical-vocational allowance and filling out a residual functional capacity (RFC) form after your doctor evaluates your condition.

6. You meet the SGA requirements

Substantial gainful activity, or SGA, refers to the level of employment and income the SSA considers substantial. If your monthly earnings stay below the SGA threshold set by the SSA, you may be eligible for disability benefits. The SGA threshold varies depending on the disability. As of 2023, the SGA for blind applicants has been set at $2,460, whereas the monthly SGA for non-blind disabled applicants is $1,470.

Pro Tip

The SSA requires you to provide accurate and comprehensive medical records when claiming a disability. To ensure your doctors have all the necessary information, consider creating a detailed list of your symptoms — including their frequency and severity — and how they limit your daily activities.

What to be aware of when filing a Social Security disability benefits claim

As mentioned previously, only 31% of Social Security disability benefits claims filed from 2010 through 2019 were approved. According to Evan Tunis, President of Florida Healthcare Insurance, there are three factors to be aware of when filing a Social Security disability benefits claim to increase your odds of success.

1. Documentation of disabilities

When filing a claim for Social Security disability benefits, it is important to provide thorough and complete documentation of your disability. “The Social Security Administration (SSA) will review all medical records submitted by the claimant and assess whether or not their impairment meets the criteria required for disability benefits. Supporting documents like doctor’s notes, laboratory test results, and prescription medication records should be included in your application,” says Tunis.

2. Meeting deadlines

The SSA has a strict timeline you must adhere to for your claim to be approved. “If you miss any deadlines or fail to meet the requirements, your claim will be rejected, and you may have to start over from scratch,” says Tunis. With countless documents to submit and forms to fill out, it’s even easier to lose track of deadlines. Stay organized to avoid any unnecessary delays or complications with your claim.

3. Understand the appeal process

In the event that your request for disability benefits is denied, it’s crucial to understand your right of appeal. According to Tunis, “The SSA provides a guide to the appeals process that will walk you through the steps necessary for an appeal and answer any questions you may have about the process.” If you’re still unsure about the appeal process after reading the guide, it may be worth hiring a Social Security disability lawyer.


How do you know if you are approved for disability?

The simplest way to find out whether you’ve been approved or denied for Social Security disability benefits is to wait for the notice from the SSA in the mail. If the SSA is taking too long to notify you and you’re eager to find out your status, you can check it online by logging in to the My Account page of the SSA website. If you’ve had a trial, your attorney will likely hear back from the SSA first, but you should also expect to receive a decision in the mail.

What are the signs you won your SSDI hearing?

Here are a few signs that may indicate a positive decision on your SSDI hearing:

  • The judge doesn’t ask a lot of questions about your medical impairments.
  • The judge doesn’t call upon a Social Security vocational expert (VE), who typically participates in SSDI hearings, for questions about your impairments.
  • The judge does call upon a vocational expert and they provide a supportive testimony.
  • The judge issues a bench decision (i.e., a favorable oral decision) during the hearing.

How long does it take to get approved for disability?

Getting approved for disability can take anywhere from a few months to a few years, depending on your situation. Generally, you will know the results of your initial application within six months. If you’re rejected, you can appeal the decision by filing for reconsideration. If you’re rejected again, you can choose to attend a hearing. Remember, though, you only have 60 days after you receive the previous decision to request a hearing. If you miss the deadline, the administrative law judge may dismiss your appeal.

Is everyone denied disability the first time?

No, not every applicant is denied disability benefits the first time they apply. However, receiving approval from the SSA can be challenging. According to the 2020 Annual Statistical Report on the Social Security Disability Insurance Program, denied disability claims have averaged 67% from 2010 to 2019.

Key Takeaways

  • When filing a claim for Social Security disability benefits, it’s crucial to provide sufficient medical evidence and make sure you meet the non-medical requirements set by the Social Security Administration (SSA).
  • Hiring a disability lawyer can be beneficial, as they can guide you through the application process and represent you in case of an appeal.
  • If your disabling condition matches the requirements outlined in the Blue Book, that can be a good sign that your claim will be approved.
  • Your odds of success also increase if your monthly earnings stay below the SGA threshold set by the SSA.
  • To find out if your claim has been approved or denied, you can wait for the SSA notice in the mail or check your status online.

If you’re unsure whether you have a good case for disability, consult a Social Security disability lawyer who can provide legal advice and work with you to get your disability claim approved. Since disability lawyers take cases on a contingency basis, you won’t need to pay anything upfront.

That said, once you’re approved for disability benefits, you may find that they only cover a fraction of your regular living expenses. If you need more financial assistance while on disability, be sure to check out SuperMoney’s guide to disability loans and grants!

View Article Sources
  1. Disability Benefits – Social Security Administration
  2. Social Security Credits – Social Security Administration
  3. Annual Statistical Report on the Social Security Disability Insurance Program, 2020 – Social Security Administration
  4. How Much Does a Social Security Disability Lawyer Cost? – NOLO
  5. Hearings And Appeals – Social Security Administration
  6. What Is A Medical Vocational Allowance? – Disability-Benefits-Help.org
  7. How You Can File the Residual Functional Capacity (RFC) Form – DisabilityBenefitsCenter.org
  8. Substantial Gainful Activity – Social Security Administration
  9. Understanding Supplemental Security Income Appeals Process – Social Security Administration
  10. I’m Disabled, Not Dead – Working While Collecting SSI or SSDI – SuperMoney
  11. The Definitive Guide to Disability Loans and Grants – SuperMoney