1807 Corona Avenue, Jasper, Alabama 35501
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Is there a way to know if I will win my Social Security Disability case?   Melody B., Jasper.

Most people applying for Social Security Disability have a hearing before a judge. It is critical to understand how judges think when they approve claims. During my career as a Social Security Disability attorney I have won cases before over 150 different judges. This experience provides a unique understanding of how judges think and the evidence they find persuasive. The following are a few of the many reasons why judges tend to rule one way or another in a disability case:

Reason #1: The judge finds you are credible and wants to believe you:  I have found through years of experience that when a claimant has a long and consistent earnings record with no gaps, it is very persuasive to most judges.  To most judges a positive work record not only makes any claimant much more credible, but they want to believe you.  I can look at someone’s earnings record and predict the outcome of the case 80% of the time.

Reason #2: The judge finds your medical records are consistent with your claims of disability:  When medical records confirm your hearing testimony, you have a much higher probability of winning your case. Well-documented medical records is one of the main reasons judges approve claims.  Judges really want to see that your complaints are consistent with your medical records. Have you had a consistent treatment record and have you complied with treatment recommendations? Do your records confirm your testimony regarding the frequency, severity and duration of your symptoms? Are you taking medications that suggest your medical condition is serious and debilitating? Most Judges thoroughly review medical records before approving the claim.

Reason #3: Your regular treating physician supports your claim and is willing to give an opinion about your inability to work:  In SSD claims, medical records are the “cake” and treating physicians’ opinions are the “icing.” Judges want to see your regular doctors support your disability claim. In our cases we submit physician opinions in many different forms prior to the hearing. Federal law requires that judges carefully consider and give great weight to your regular treating physician’s opinion. These opinions must be specific and set forth physical and/or psychological limitations you have in a work environment with appropriate medical testing or methods.

Reason #4: Age, past relevant work and education:  If you are over fifty (50) years of age, have a limited education and have work experience where no particular skills were learned, it makes it much easier for a judge to rule in your favor, as you turn fifty five (55) and sixty (60) this is even more true.  This age factor has become more important in the last five (5) years.  Although the laws have not changed, I detect that judges are being discouraged from ruling in favor of claimants who are under fifty (50) years of age when they became disabled.

Reason #5: Negative factors that cause denials:  While there may be nothing said in an unfavorable decision, the following factors tend to make cases more difficult to win:

  • Illicit drug use
  • Criminal history
  • Extreme dress and presentation, including body piercings and tattoos
  • Cigarette smoking

In conclusion, I would say that even with the best pre-hearing preparation, abundant favorable evidence and a flawless hearing, you can still lose a disability claim.  The 31 judges in North Alabama all have different average approval rates varying from a low of 30% to upwards of 80%.  In the event of a loss, we will sometimes appeal cases to Federal District Court.  The preparation completed before the initial hearing is the vital evidence that we need to win in Federal Court.

Feel free to call our office if you have any additional questions.  205-387-7777

Please send the questions to:
Ask the Attorney
P. O. Box 2309, Jasper, AL 35502

or email to Bob@NelsonBryanCross.com

No representation is made that the quality of legal services to be performed is greater than the quality legal services performed by other lawyers.



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