1. Medical evidence, medical evidence, medical evidence.
In fact, we could make a list where every item in the top ten would be “medical evidence”! This is the #1 most important factor when it comes to your prospects for winning a disability case. We always tell clients that while we win way more disability cases than we lose, when we do lose, it’s because we either do not have enough medical evidence, or we do not have the right medical evidence. Every person who goes before a Social Security judge says that they are disabled. Obviously, then, simply saying that you are disabled is just not enough. Frankly, what we say as your lawyers and representatives won’t win the day either if we don’t have enough good medical evidence to support us.
2. Age matters.
It’s much harder to win a disability case if you’re under the age of 50. It gets somewhat easier at age 50, even easier at age 55, and easier still at age 60. The older you are, the better your chances of winning your case.
3. Education matters.
The more educated you are, the more jobs Social Security is likely to believe are available to you, even if you can’t do the same work you’ve done in the past. Remember, if they believe there is ANY work that you could do on a full time basis, even if it isn’t work you’ve done before, they are likely to rule against you.
4. Your past work history matters.
The more physically demanding your previous work was, the stronger your argument. For instance, a 50-year-old laborer with a significant back problem stands a much better chance of getting disability than a 50-year-old office worker with a significant back problem.
5. All of your physical and mental health impairments matter.
Many clients have a number of different health issues. Oftentimes, though, it is that “one big thing” that finally tips the scales and causes them to apply for disability. Yet when they apply for disability, they focus on that particular problem and sometimes do not even mention their other problems. For example, someone is in an accident and suffers a major injury which limits their ability to walk, stand, and lift. Prior to suffering that injury, though, they were also being treated for diabetes, hypertension, or severe depression. When you apply for disability, it’s important to include all the conditions that may affect your ability to function in the workplace, even if each of those things alone would not rise to the level of a disability.
6. A diagnosis does not equal a disability.
Oftentimes when people call us and we ask what their disability is, they give us the name of their condition. Having heart disease, diabetes, some kind of chronic pain condition, a mental health impairment, or even cancer or AIDS will not get you disability. While certain conditions (such as a terminal illness or being on dialysis) can automatically get you disability, it’s not the diagnosis but the effect the condition has on your ability to function which most affects the way the Social Security Administration will look at your ability to be gainfully employed.
7. A solid work history is helpful.
If you end up appealing a disability denial until you end up before an Administrative Law Judge, they tend to be more impressed by someone who has had a solid work history and has worked for many years as opposed to someone who has not worked much or has had a spotty work history. The tendency may be to believe these people would still be working if they could. They won’t say this in their decisions, but we have found this to be true.
8. A disability statement from your doctor means very little.
Doctors do not determine disability; judges do. A finding of disability is a legal decision, not a medical one. Doctors can offer their opinions about your limitations based on the medical conditions they treated you for. People are often quite disappointed and even angry when their doctor tells them they should not be working anymore, and yet they get denied for disability.
9. Physical problems are easier to prove than mental health problems.
You cannot take a MRI or a CT scan or do blood tests or EKGs or nerve conduction studies or any of the other diagnostic tools available through modern medicine to determine if somebody has a serious mental health problem, such as depression or anxiety disorder. Generally, if your disability is primarily a mental health problem, judges are looking for a long history of treatment, which includes mental health breakdowns, hospitalizations, etc. Just seeing a mental health physician regularly and taking prescribed medications is normally not enough to win a disability case based on a mental health impairment.
10. Representation matters.
All representation is not equal. An experienced lawyer in disability law is most capable of effectively presenting your case and thereby improving the odds that you will be approved for benefits. No lawyer, no matter how good, can guarantee success. At the Goldberg Law Office, we have represented over 1000 disability claimants in successful claims for benefits after they were initially denied.
Contact Experienced Florida Social Security Benefits Attorneys
Want to win your Social Security disability case? Learn more about the representation we provide by contacting us online or calling (352) 376-1200 to schedule your free initial consultation.