How to Tell If You Nailed Your SSDI Hearing: 5 Signs of Success

If you have applied for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits, you know how challenging and stressful the process can be. You may have to wait for months or even years to get a hearing before an administrative law judge (ALJ), who will decide whether you qualify for disability benefits or not.

But how do you know if your SSDI hearing went well? Is there a way to tell if the judge was convinced by your evidence and testimony?

A picture of a hearing ongoing in court | Photo courtesy: Disability Help
These are some of the signs of a good SSDI hearing that you should look for | Photo courtesy: Disability Help

While there is no surefire way to predict the outcome of your hearing, there are some signs that may indicate a favorable decision. Here are five signs of a good SSDI hearing that you should look out for:

1. The judge does not ask many questions about your medical condition.

One of the main tasks of the ALJ is to evaluate your medical evidence and determine if your condition meets or equals one of the listed impairments in the Social Security’s blue book. If the judge does not ask you many questions about your medical condition, it may mean that they have already reviewed your records and found them sufficient to support your claim.

This is a good sign, as it shows that the judge does not have any doubts or concerns about your disability.

2. The judge does not consult a vocational expert.

Another task of the ALJ is to assess your residual functional capacity (RFC), which is the level of work-related activities that you can still perform despite your impairment.

To do this, the judge may consult a vocational expert (VE), who is a professional who knows about the requirements and availability of various jobs in the national economy. The VE may testify about whether you can do your past work or any other work that exists in significant numbers.

If the judge does not ask the VE any questions, it may mean that they have already decided that you cannot do any work based on your RFC and medical evidence. This is another good sign, as it indicates that the judge considers you disabled under the Social Security’s rules.

3. The judge issues a bench decision.

In some cases, the judge may announce their decision at the end of the hearing. This is called a bench decision, and it is usually a favorable one.

If the judge issues a bench decision, it means they have no doubt that you are entitled to disability benefits and they do not need to review your case further.

This is the best sign of a good SSDI hearing, as it guarantees that you will receive a written notice of approval and start receiving your benefits soon.

4. The medical expert testifies that you meet a listing.

Sometimes, the judge may ask a medical expert (ME) to testify at your hearing.

The ME is a doctor who is familiar with the Social Security’s listings and can offer an opinion on whether your condition meets or equals one of them. If you meet a listing, the Social Security automatically considers you disabled, as testified by the ME.

This is a very good sign, as it makes your case much stronger and easier to win.

5. The vocational expert testifies that there are no jobs you can do.

Even if you do not meet a listing, you may still qualify for disability benefits if you cannot do any work that exists in the national economy. To determine this, the judge may ask the VE hypothetical questions based on your RFC, age, education, and work experience.

The VE may then testify about whether there are any jobs that you can do given these factors.

If the VE (Vocational Expert) states that you cannot perform any jobs, it indicates that you meet the Social Security rules for disability. This is a very good sign, as it shows that the judge has no reason to deny your claim based on your ability to work.

READ MORE: One-Time Emergency Payment from SSI: How Much, Who Qualifies, and How to Get It

A picture showing a gavel with some cash in dollars an indication to show if you have nailed your SSDI hearing | Photo courtesy: Disability help
You may also want to hire a disability lawyer who can help you with your case and increase your chances of success | Photo courtesy: Disability help


What is the easiest disability to get?

The easiest disability to get depends on several factors, such as the type and severity of your condition, the evidence you provide, and the criteria used by the SSA or the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to evaluate your claim. However, some general categories of disabilities that tend to have higher approval rates are:

  • Cancer, especially if it is advanced, aggressive, or recurrent.
  • Heart disease, especially if it causes severe symptoms or complications.
  • Respiratory illnesses, such as asthma, COPD, or cystic fibrosis.
  • Mental illnesses, such as PTSD, depression, or anxiety.
  • Presumptive disabilities, such as those related to exposure to Agent Orange, burn pits, or contaminated water.

What’s the fastest you can get approved for disability?

You can get approved for disability benefits fastest by thoroughly filling out your application, providing all the necessary medical and work-related information, and regularly checking the status of your case.

You may also qualify for expedited processing if you have a terminal illness, a critical condition, or a compassionate allowance. Additionally, you may benefit from hiring a legal representative or an advocate who can help you with your claim and increase your chances of success.

RELATED SEARCH: How Long Does a Disability Appeal Take with a Lawyer?

What is the most approved disability?

The most approved disability is a musculoskeletal disorder, such as arthritis or degenerative disc disease, according to the Social Security Administration (SSA) .

These conditions account for 32.3% of all disability approvals in 2020.


These are some of the signs of a good SSDI hearing that you should look for. However, keep in mind that these are not guarantees, and that the judge may still deny your claim for other reasons.

Therefore, it is important to prepare well for your hearing and present the best possible evidence and testimony to support your claim.

You may also want to hire a disability lawyer who can help you with your case and increase your chances of success.

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