We often get the question: "Will I win my Social Security Disability Case?" when claimants are applying for their disability benefits. To be honest, there are some signs that may hint on whether you would win your disability case.
Apart from your eligibility criterion and other conditions you may have met, there also non formal facts such as your judge's approval date, the severity of your disability compared with other disabled people with disability similar to yours and how it may or may not have impacted them and whether or not your medical record looks genuine enough to prove that your disability does pose a serious hindrance to your day-to-day functionality.
Remember your disability examiner or judge also looks into whether your medical record offers serious proof or whether you would be able to perform substantial gainful activity (SGA) or not and whether you would be a reliable employee at a simple entry-level job that you can do by working around your disability. For instance, if you previously worked as a bus conductor but are held on a wheelchair now, you could still perform some kind of substantial gainful activity such as being a clerk if you hold enough qualifications for that. So, these are all the things that may or may not tip the balance in your favor.
Also, the substantial gainful activity question is often the threshold that finally determines the judge's decision for your disability case. If you have a disability attorney handling your case they might be able to quickly guess whether your disability case would be approved on not based on their experience with disability cases, they may know the reputation and temperament of the judge. Further, a disability attorney is mostly present during the hearings so they would know whether you had the right attitude and statements to convince the judge and whether you answered the judge's questions convincingly.
Yet, you should never assume whether your case would be approved on how good or bad a judge might have behaved with you during that hearing. That is because only since your judge was nice and polite during the consultative evaluation has nothing to do with your case being approved and more about his/her own personality, temperament and their ethics as an SSA staff.
Let us state one example for a good disability hearing that went well. For instance, your disability has limited your job prospects to only vocational work which means you are unable to carry out any other work. However, during this pandemic there is no vocational work even for the relatively healthy and fit individuals. So, the judge might consider you unable to perform substantial gainful activity in order to be able to earn a decent living with your disability. Hence, you are more likely to get your case approved.
Another example is whether or not a judge asks you a question after you've presented your initial case. This may mean two things – one, the judge might not think you meet the eligibility criteria and thinks you are not disabled enough to get approved; second, more probable prospect is the judge thinks your case is strong enough and deserves approval right away. The second prospect would mean that you have very clear, detailed medical records, genuine and convincing statements from your employers, doctor and/or physician, healthcare providers etc and meet all other non-medical requirements. Also, no questions means you along with your disability attorney have left no loopholes in the case for the judge to be filled i.e., you have developed the right kind of attitude and presented your case as well as possible. Since you have eased the consultative evaluation process for the judge, the judge or DE would ease the process for your disability application approval.
Further, one more thing to take into consideration is your judge's overall approving rates vs rejected cases. You can actually look into any administrative law judge through their website. For instance, if your judge has an approval rate of 17% and if they asked very tough questions mostly about your vocational work then you might just as well assume that your case also did not go as well. Hence, there are very less chances of your cases being approved. On the other hand, if your judge has an approval rate of say 65% and they asked moderately tough questions then your case might get approved as well.
Remember you could look for the approval rate of judges but you can't change your administrative law judge. Even when you have been scheduled for a video teleconferencing disability hearing and if you, for some reason, change it to an in-person disability hearing, even then your judge will be kept the same to maintain transparency in your case. The SSA has this policy of the no-judge-shopping-rule, so all disability claimants get the same level of consultative evaluation. (only in some cases where the same ALJ is not able in your locality or if you are unable to travel to their locality, would the SSA change your judge).
Lastly, since you cannot shop for judges and can look into their approval rates and other statistics, it might be beneficial if you work with a disability attorney to work with you on your case and remedy any weak points according to the expected evaluation by your attorney (about the judge).
If you or your loved one needs help with filing for your disability at any point in your application or hearings process, you can avail our counsel 24/7.