Factors that Can Affect a Social Security Disability Claim

Individuals who suffer from a medical condition that prevents them from engaging in full-time employment may be eligible to receive Social Security disability benefits. However, the process of claiming SSDI benefits is notoriously slow and, without the right elements in place, often results in a denied claim.

With that in mind, it’s important to make your application as strong as possible for the best chances of success the first time around. A disability lawyer can help you increase your chances by putting together a strong case. Here are some other factors to be aware of that will affect your application and that you may want to take into account. 


The Social Security Administration regards age as an important factor in an individual’s case. Those over the age of 55 will generally have a higher chance at having their disability claim approved than a younger applicant.

In contrast, younger people with less work history and fewer contributions will not be considered as likely to achieve a successful claim. According to the administration’s rules and regulations, if someone under the age of 55 is capable of working an eight-hour day, they will not qualify for a disability claim.


With regards to work history, the SSA looks favourably upon those who have maintained steady jobs over a long period of time. Those who have contributed consistent earnings into the system will have the best chance of securing a disability claim. Work histories with minimal employment gaps are also considered favorable.

Work histories that display long or unaccountable gaps in employment indicate an individual has not made sufficient contributions to the system and will, therefore, not be considered likely to qualify. It does, however, depend on the overall application. If an individual can make a strong case in other areas and can account for employment gaps, there might still be an opportunity for a successful claim.  

Medical Documentation 

Strong supporting medical documentation is vital to the success of any claim for Social Security disability. You need to be able to not only say but prove that your condition is recent, chronic, and prevents you from working a standard eight hour day.

Both in your initial application as well as in subsequent hearings if your first application was unsuccessful, it’s advisable to contact your healthcare provider for as much detailed documentation as possible on your recent condition. Copy these documents, and send them to the judge prior to your hearing for the best chance of success.

Criminal Activity 

Criminality, such as past convictions and past or current substance abuse, can have a strong bearing on whether or not you will qualify for a disability claim.

Criminal convictions and incarceration, even after they have been served, show unfavourable gaps in the employment record and lack of earnings contributions. Substance abuse can also derail a claim, especially if the individual is claiming for disability benefits on the grounds of mental impairments or any other condition that may be exacerbated by substance abuse. Any drug or alcohol abuse, recent or in the past, can be a determining factor depending on the overall claim.

Chris Turn

Chris Turn is the pseudonym of a journalist and writer who has published short stories, essays, and criticism in the Los Angeles Times, the Globe and Mail, the Toronto Star, and the New York Times. Her most recent book, a novel, is The Summoning (The HarperCollins Canada, 2014). She lives with her husband in Toronto.

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