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Learn how you will find out whether your application for Social Security disability benefits has been approved, and what to do if you are denied.
Disability Approval Letters and Other Indications of Approval
The Social Security Administration will send you a letter telling you whether your application for Social Security Disability (SSDI) benefits has been approved or denied; however, an approval letter may not be the first indication that you have been approved on initial claim or reconsideration appeal.
If you gave Social Security your banking information for direct deposit, you are likely to receive a deposit to your bank account before you receive a letter. So, if you think that it’s about time for you to get a decision, check your accounts every few days for a deposit from the U.S. Treasury. If you applied online, you can check the status of your claim by going to your “My Social Security” account.
If you get a payment before you receive a letter, you can either wait for the explanatory approval letter, which may come up to two weeks later, or you can call the Social Security Administration at (800) 772-1213 for an explanation of the deposit and information about your ongoing benefits or back pay.
Another way you may find out about your approval is by a phone call from the Social Security Administration. If some additional information or documentation is needed to start disability payments. Also, if you have eligible dependents, Social Security may call you or your spouse to complete an application for the children, which, of course, is a sign your claim has been approved.
If your claim is at a hearing level appeal, you will always receive the hearing decision in a letter mailed to you well before payment is sent.
What If I Get A Denial Letter or a Partial Approval Letter?
If you receive an approval letter that is only partially favorable or you receive a denial letter, review the letter carefully. If you disagree with the reasons for denial or limitation of your claim, you have the right to appeal or have an attorney appeal your application for Social Security Disability benefits.
Will the Social Security Administration contact me after my disability benefits start?
See when the Social Security Administration may contact you and learn about precautions you can take against identity theft.
Notification of Benefit Changes
The Social Security Administration will contact you by mail to notify you of increases in your benefit amount caused by a cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) or the crediting of additional earnings.
Continuing Disability Reviews (CDR’s)
The Social Security Administration (SSA) will also send you a letter and may call you when they need to verify that you are still disabled and eligible for disability benefits.
When you receive Supplemental Security Income (SSI), SSA will typically contact you annually to conduct a redetermination of your financial eligibility for SSI benefits.
Other SSA-initiated Contact
Representative payees are contacted annually to account for the use of benefits that they are receiving on another person’s behalf. If you work, you may be contacted to provide more information about your work activity especially if you did not report the work.
On rare occasion, a representative of Social Security might visit you at your home, but it is a good idea to be alert to possible scams. If someone claiming to be a Social Security representative shows up at your door and displays a Social Security Administration identification badge (anything is easy to counterfeit these days), it’s a good idea to verify that the person is really from the SSA before letting them into your home or providing any information.
Similarly, if someone phones you and asks for your Social Security number, do not reveal it. SSA employees will not ask for your Social Security number. For security, call or visit your local Social Security office and ask if someone was actually sent to see you or called you. (If you are doing business with an organization that already has your Social Security number such as a bank and you are asked to verify the number, verify only the last four digits and not even that if you feel uncomfortable.)
The Social Security Administration never contacts you by phone or email to ask for your Social Security number, to say that your Social Security number has been compromised, or to otherwise scare you into responding. Such calls or emails are likely scams. If you have any doubt about a call you receive, do not provide any information and contact your Social Security office to see whether they have any inquiry in process that you need to respond to.
Signs You’ll Be Approved for Disability
Around 67% of social security disability claims are denied.
Most rejected applications are denied simply because they don’t include enough medical evidence and data. While you can appeal the decision of the Social Security Administration if you’re not approved immediately, it helps to ensure you’re submitting the right information.
Here are some common signs you’re likely to be approved for disability benefits:
- You include sufficient medical evidence: Submitting medical records, reports, scans, and descriptions of treatments and medications will help to improve your chances of success. A document signed by your physician that confirms the accuracy of every diagnostic test can also be extremely useful.
- There’s proof of your inability to work: To be approved for disability benefits, you must show that you cannot perform work outside your area of expertise. Your employer can submit documentation to prove you didn’t work over the last year to adhere to the SSA requirements for a 12-month non-working period. However, you can supplement this with copies of your monthly bank statements and paycheck stubs.
- Sufficient work credits: You earn work credits by paying social security taxes. In 2023, American workers gained one credit for every $1,640 generated from self-employment or company wages. The more work credits you have, the more likely you are to be applied for a social security disability benefit.
- You earn less than “gainful activity” provides: If you cannot participate in substantial gainful activity, this can also increase your chances of earning benefits. From 2023, the monthly “SGA” level for blind applicants was $2,460, while the monthly SGA for non-blind applicants was around $1,470.
- Your condition is recognized as disabling: Applicants who show that their condition matches the criteria found in a Blook Book listing are more likely to be approved for disability benefits. Although having a disability listed in the SSA Blue Book doesn’t guarantee you’ll be seen as eligible, it can improve your chances of earning the right results.
- Hiring a social security attorney: Since many claims are denied disability benefits, working with a social security lawyer can improve your chances of success. An advocate can walk you through the application process and help you to collect the evidence you need to convince the SSA of your case.