The truth of the matter is...even though you may have a condition or a combination of conditions which keep you from working, you still may not be considered disabled under the rules established by the Social Security Administration.
Sometimes I have to tell my clients, "I understand you have this condition that makes you feel like hell even on a good day, but we still may not be able to win you benefits."
Other times, it's more like, "Don't worry about it. Under the rules, you are disabled, it just may take some time to get in front of someone who will agree with us."
What it all boils down to is this: (1) you DO have to have a severe condition that is backed up by recent and relevant medical evidence, and (2) even given that you have this or that condition, are there still jobs in the United States you are capable of performing on a full time basis? -If there are, then chances are you will be found not disabled. The reason is this: Being disabled does not mean you feel too bad to work anymore. Being disabled means that even despite your condition, are there jobs you still can do?
So, what are some things to look for when deciding to file for Social Security disability benefits? Well, here are some things that may lead you to believe you have a better case than others:
(1) What kind of job did you do in the past? If you were in management or some type of sit-down office job for the last fifteen years, the Social Security Administration may conclude that even though you do have a severe medical condition, you may be able to transfer those kinds of skills to some other job. On the other hand, if you have worked manual labor jobs your entire life, then you may increase your chances of being found disabled, especially if your severe condition is physical.
And that leads me to this important point....
(2) What kind of condition do you have? Is it physical or mental or a combination of both? If your severe condition is physical, then you are again increasing your chances of approval. Why? Because physical symptoms of pain and injury in your body can be seen with an x-ray, MRI, sonogram, etc. These physical issues can be measured and the pain in which you attest to can be determined reliable. On the other hand, mental issues are difficult to measure and oftentimes more difficult to prove. Remember this, the burden is on you to show that you have a severe condition. Thus, if you condition is physical, you have increased your chances of winning your Social Security disability claim.
(3) How old are you? The older you are, the better your chances of winning your claim. Older than 55? You just increased your chances even more. Why? Because Social Security understands that the older you become,the harder it is to find a job. Remember when I said that being disabled did not mean you felt too crappy to work? I said it ultimately meant that there are no jobs in the national economy, given your severe condition, that you were capable of performing. Therefore, the older you get, the less jobs in the national economy you are capable of performing.
(4) How educated are you? This is very simple, the more limited your education, the better your chances (on the whole) you have of being approved for benefits. The higher your education, especially if you just exited college, grad school, etc., the lower your chances. One of the reasons for this is because you tend to have those transferable work skills that can be put to use at some other job.
(5) How good are your medical records? I tell all of my clients this simple rule: Pretend we have a dead body in front of us (this dead body is your case pending before the Social Security Administration). Now, what is the most important thing in any case? EVIDENCE. You must be able to show that your mental and/or physical condition is severe. The best way you can possibly do this is by seeking treatment and having your medical records reflect the severity of your impairment. The Social Security Administration even goes so far as to tell anyone seeking disability benefits that no matter how severe they state their condition is, a case cannot be approved unless there is medical evidence to back up such a claim. Simply put, medical records are vital to winning a claim.