Social Security Disability Insurance in the State of Alabama
The American Foundation ranks Alabama only number 46 out of the 50 states on its health list. There is a high prevalence (67%) of people who are overweight or obese. Alabama also has one of the highest rates for people with diabetes which is associated with variety of diseases of the musculoskeletal system and connective tissue that can result in severe disability. Most people who receive Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits in Alabama are those with musculoskeletal disorders (34%). This is the top diagnostic followed by those with mental disorders (28.6%).
Anyone in Alabama who suffers from a serious disability due to any reason can qualify for SSDI benefits if your disability prevents you from working for at least one year. Other SSDI eligibility criteria include:
- Meet a medical condition listed in the Social Security Administration’s (SSA’s) Blue Book or have a disability that is equivalent to a listing.
- Inability to work in any substantial gainful activity.
- Contributed to the Social Security system and have earned enough work credits.
In Alabama about 29.5% of the applicants are approved for SSDI benefits at the initial application level.
Filing a Social Security Disability Insurance Claim in Alabama
About 16.1% of residents in Alabama suffer from a disability, which is among the highest in America. If your disability is an exact match to any one or more of the listings in the Blue Book, your chances of a quick approval are extremely good. The SSA computer systems identify such cases and move them to the top of the list for faster facilitation. If your case is extremely severe or terminal, you may be given SSDI benefits even before you go through the official claims process.
Most people do not meet exact conditions in the Blue Book but can qualify for a medical vocational allowance. To receive a medical vocational allowance you must prove that your condition is comparable or equivalent to any one of the listings in the Blue Book. This means you must prove that you cannot work at your past job and you are not able to work at any other job because of factors like age and educational qualifications. To determine your ability to work, the SSA will evaluate your Residual Functional Capacity (RFC) and go through 15 years of work history. You may be required to carry out certain diagnostics that will help the SSA assess your physical limitations.
The entire process can take 3 to 5 months, even more if there is a backlog in the system. Often, delays are due to the time it takes in retrieving medical records from the listed treatment sources. Another reason for delays is because the claimant has filed incomplete information. It is important to give the names, addresses and contact information of treatment centers and doctors who have treated you. Knowing how the SSDI claims process works can help you better prepare a winning case. Getting professional guidance will help you present your case in a way that clearly demonstrates you meet SSDI criteria for eligibility.
Click here to know more about the SSDI application process or watch the informative video below.
In the state of Alabama there are 21 Social Security offices. You can apply online, by phone, or in person at a Social Security office near you. The SSA will transfer your case to a state agency called the Disability Determination Services (DDS). Your case will be assigned to a Social Security Disability examiner there who will review your case. He will request for your medical records from the treatment centers you have listed and confirm your condition from medical experts if needed. The examiner will call you for an interview which may be via video or telephone if you are not able to come in person. It is the disability examiner who gives the final determination on your claims at the initial application level.
Only 29.5% of SSDI claims are awarded benefits at the initial application level in Alabama. The 70% who received a denial notice will need to go through the appeals system. Don’t take this initial denial to heart. The appeals process is where you have a much higher rate of success. The process of appeals consists of 4 stages.
- Reconsideration: Here, your case is transferred to another disability examiner who checks all the evidence to make sure the previous disability examiner has not missed out any important facts that could qualify for an approval on your claims. The rate of approval at this stage in Alabama is 14%. The 86% of claimants who are denied their claim should appeal at the next level which has the highest approval rates.
- The Court Hearing: Here, your case will be presented before an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ). Your case has the best chance for winning here so it is advisable to get an attorney who specializes in SSDI matters to represent you. In Alabama, the approval rate at the disability hearing level is 51.8%.
- The Appeals Council: The Council will determine whether the decision made by the ALJ was fairly determined by looking at all the evidence once again. The Council can reverse the decision of the ALJ or send your case to another ALJ. They can also concur with the ALJ and deny your claim.
- Federal Review: The last and final stage of appeal is the federal court and is the least likely to go in your favor. It will also prove to be time-consuming and expensive so only those who have a fool-proof case against the SSA are advised to appeal here. The rest may have better chances by starting the claims process all over again. This would prove to be particularly fruitful if your recent medical records can serve to bolster your case.
Appeals are to be filed with the SSA within 60 days of the date of the denial notice and must reach the SSA office within 65 days. An attorney at the outset can help you fill out the application forms and make sure you are providing all the necessary documents that a disability examiner would be looking for to render a favorable determination. Having legal representation can improve your chances of winning your claim by as much as 60%. Attorneys know how the SSDI claims process works and what a disability examiner or an ALJ requires and can save you time and anxiety. They can also help you increase the benefits you get by helping you establish an early onset date resulting in more back pay.
Fill out our free disability evaluation form today! Do not wait to apply if you know your disability could last a year or more and you are not able to work. Applying early will mean you start getting your benefits sooner. Fill the form on the right and let us help you get the benefits you deserve.
Helpful Resources for those with Disabilities in Alabama
If you’re not qualified for Social Security Disability Insurance or would like additional support, the Alabama State Administration offers several other programs to help people with different disabilities. Follow the links below to know more about these helpful programs:
- Alabama Department of Developmental Disabilities: This website provides a wide range of resources for people with developmental disabilities looking for assistance in job training, residential services, and more.
- The LIHEAP assistance program: This is a federally funded energy bill assistance program. You may be able to receive financial help in the form of a grant or credit on an account. Low-income homes that have a disabled family member, an elderly person, or a young child are given priority.
- SNAP Benefits: This federal program may help seniors, low-income workers, those who are disabled, and others put nutritious food on the table. Benefits are given every month through an electronic benefits card which can be used at authorized local food stores.