To get approval for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), you must show the Social Security Administration (SSA) that you are disabled as the agency defines it. You must show that your condition has made you unable to work for at least 12 months, and you expect this limitation to continue for at least 12 months more. (However, since the SSDI process takes a long time, you should apply for benefits as soon as you become disabled.)

Though SSA includes a broad range of physical injuries, illnesses and chronic conditions on its list of qualifying conditions, actually getting approval can be difficult. SSA field offices and administrative law judges tend to be skeptical, and most initial applications get denied. Often, applications are denied because the field office employee who reviewed the claim was not convinced the applicant was sufficiently disabled.

Proving disability status

If you are applying for SSDI, you must include evidence of your disability. This includes medical records and other documents detailing the nature and extent of your condition, including:

  • The severity of the condition
  • How long you have been experiencing the condition
  • Whether you can still perform work tasks

In some cases, SSA will seek further information from your doctor, or have another doctor perform a consultative examination on you. If you application is rejected, you can add more evidence on appeal.

Showing that you deserve SSDI benefits

A complete and persuasive application or appeal based on the evidence is your best chance of getting approved for SSDI benefits. While you can try to get through the process on your own, an attorney who practices Social Security law will have the resources and knowledge necessary to give you a fair chance at the benefits you have earned.