How to Be Approved for Social Security Disability Benefits

It can happen at any time — a serious illness or a debilitating injury prevents you from working and now you’re wondering how you will provide for yourself and your family. If you find yourself in this situation, you may be asking how to begin the Social Security Disability approval process.

We have taken the stress out of applying for SSD benefits by sharing the steps necessary to getting approved. You can also contact one of our representatives for quick and easy assistance in your application process by calling the number above!

Steps to Be Approved for Social Security Disability Benefits

Social Security Disability benefits could greatly improve your quality of life and lessen the stress of not being able to work because of an illness or injury. In order to be approved for disability benefits, you must first go through the following milestones.

Application Process

Upon the date of receiving your application, it takes anywhere from 3-5 months for the Social Security Administration (SSA) to come to a decision on your initial application.

If your initial application is denied, you have the option to begin the appeals process of reconsideration, administrative hearing, appeals council, and federal court appeal. Or, you can try to reapply with the help of a representative such as Disability Apply to increase your chances of approval.


Reconsideration is the first level of the appeal process. The wait time for a reconsideration of your initial denial is about three to four months from the date you file your request.

Hearing Level

A determination notice from your hearing with an Administrative Law Judge is recognized once the judge issues a decision on your case. The total decision time for this level of appeals begins the moment a hearing is requested and ends when the judge issues a statement, which can range from 8-22 months.

Appeals Council

If the judge denies your claim, you have the option to appeal the decision to the Appeals Council. If the Appeals Council decides to review your claim, it can take up to one year to receive the new determination. The length of time it takes the Appeals Council to reach a decision depends on:

  • How many decision-makers are available
  • The amount of evidence in your case
  • The level of complexity for your case

Federal Appeal

If the Appeals Council denies your request for review or determines that the administrative law judge’s decision was correct, you can appeal the decision to federal district court. The length of time it takes the federal district court to make a decision on an appeal is about 18 months from the date the appeal is filed.

How to Qualify for Disability Benefits

The Social Security Administration utilizes strict guidelines to determine eligibility for Social Security Disability benefits. These requirements include:

  1. You must have earned enough work credits.
  2. You must have medical records to prove disability.
  3. You must meet the SSA definition of a disability.

1. Work Credits

You earn work credits when you pay FICA taxes through your paycheck. Most jobs are covered in this category. You can earn between one and four credits per year, depending on your income level.

The number of credits required to receive disability benefits varies on your age at the time of disability. Generally, individuals will need to have earned 40 work credits, with 20 of those being earned within the last ten years. Younger candidates can qualify with fewer credits.

In 2019, you warrant one credit for each $1,360 of earned income. Once you reach $5,440 in wages, you will have earned the maximum amount of four credits for the year.

  • Before Age 24: You may qualify if you have 6 credits earned in the 3-year period ending when your disability starts.
  • Age 24-31: You may qualify if you have credit for working half the time between age 21 and the time you become disabled.
    • For example: if you become disabled at age 27, you would need credit for 3 years of work (12 credits) of the past 6 years (between ages 21 and 27).
  • Age 31-42: You may qualify if you have 20 credits.
  • Age 43-Older: At 43, you will need 21 credits and for every year after that, you will add one credit.
    • For example: age 44 = 22 credits, age 45 = 23 credits, age 46 = 24 credits, and so on.

2. Medical Records

It is important to have medical documentation of your disability. We recommend that you work closely with your primary health provider when you are applying for disability. Your provider can review the Social Security Disability Blue Book listing and help you gather evidence, fill out forms, and submit required records.

The Social Security Administration will also request information and records directly from your doctor. Be sure to communicate openly with your physician about your disability application and request their assistance as needed.

3. SSA Disability Definition

The Social Security considers you disabled if:

  • You are unable to do work that you previously did;
  • SSA decides that you cannot adjust to other work because of your medical condition(s);
  • Your disability has already or is expected to last for at least one year or to result in death.

Receive Assistance With the Social Security Disability Approval Process

A legal representative cannot make the Social Security Administration arrive at a decision faster for your claim, but you have a much better opportunity to be approved for benefits when working with a representative.

For example, a representative can file a request for an off-the-record decision or an attorney adviser opinion. If the request is successful, you may be able to get a positive decision before having to go to a disability hearing.

If you would like to speak with a knowledgeable individual about how the Social Security Disability approval process works in relation to your case, contact our customer care team todayCall us at the number above to discuss the amount of time it will take for you to receive benefits, how the approval process works, or any other benefits-related questions.

You don’t have to go at it alone! Our highly-skilled and qualified team is ready to work on your behalf to help you win disability benefits

Do You Qualify for Social Security Disability Benefits?

    1. Do you expect to be out of work for at least 12 months?

    2. Did you earn taxable income for 5 of the last 10 years?

    3. Are you currently receiving disability benefits?

    4. Have you seen a doctor within the last 12 months?

    5. Are you currently working with a disability advocate?

    Please be aware that SSDI and Unemployment are different. This information is for SSDI and NOT Unemployment.

    Accurate information is required for a free evaluation. Your data is secure and will be transmitted by SSL encryption.

    Contact Us Via Email

    One or more of your responses indicate that you may not qualify for benefits. Please email us at for further assistance.

    There is NO charge for exploring your options. Your disability advocate will only get paid if you receive benefits, and even then, it will never affect your future monthly amounts. You have nothing to lose and so much to gain!

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    GREAT. Your answers indicate that you're a good candidate for disability benefits! We'll need to get in touch with you to complete your official application, so please fill out the contact information below. ALL FIELDS ARE REQUIRED:

    Please be aware that SSDI and Unemployment are different. This information is for SSDI and NOT Unemployment.

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