Social Security Disability Insurance in the State of Arizona
Arizona ranks 30th on America’s Health Rankings and 7th on its obesity list. About 12% of Arizona’s population suffers from some form of disability. If you suffer from a serious disability that hinders you from working in Arizona you can qualify for benefits under federal programs like Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI). There are certain conditions of eligibility you must meet such as:
- The disability should prevent you from engaging in substantial gainful activity for at least one year.
- Your disability must meet or be equivalent to a medical impairment listed in the Social Security Administration’s (SSA’s) Blue Book.
- You have paid into the Social Security system and have earned enough work credits.
In Arizona about 30% of the applicants are approved for SSDI benefits at the initial application level. The top two diagnostics on the SSDI beneficiary list in Arizona are disabilities that stem from a mental disorder (37%) and musculoskeletal system diseases (27%).
Filing a Social Security Disability Insurance Claim in Arizona
Disabilities that exactly meet one or more listings in the Blue Book easily get approved for benefits. However, most disabilities do not meet exact listings. The SSA provides benefits for people whose disability is comparable or equivalent to a Blue Book listing through a medical vocational allowance. When determining whether you qualify for a medical vocational allowance, the SSA will consider:
- Medical history
- Work history of the past 15 years
- Residual Functional Capacity (RFC) which is an assessment of your physical and mental limitations
If the SSA determines that your disability prevents you from working and earning a substantial gainful income, you will be approved for benefits.
The entire process can take 90 to 120 days. Delays are not uncommon because the SSA may have a backlog in their system or because claimants often fail to file all the evidence and information that is needed to determine their case. It’s helpful to know how the SSDI claims application process works to facilitate a faster disability claims process. You may want to seek the help of an advocate right at the beginning to help you get an approval of benefits at the earliest stage.
Click here to know more about the SSDI application process or watch the informative video below.
The procedure to begin to qualify for SSDI benefits starts with filing an application at your local SSA office. In the state of Arizona there are 18 Social Security offices. You can apply online, by phone, or in person. It is often preferable to file in-person as the SSA can assess whether you have provided complete information. Failure to file complete information may end up in a denial of benefits. The SSA transfers your file to the Disability Determinations Services (DDS), a state agency, where your case is assigned to a Social Security Disability examiner. The disability examiner is trained to evaluate your case and make a fair determination on the basis of medical and vocational evidence.
He will request for your medical records from the treatment centers and may call you for an in-person interview. This may be via video or telephone if you are not able to come in person.
Only 30% of SSDI claims are awarded benefits at the initial application level in Arizona. Those who receive a denial notice will need to go through the appeals system in order to get benefits they are entitled to. The process of appeals consists of 4 stages.
- Reconsideration: This first stage of appeal is similar to the initial application process except your case is reviewed by another disability examiner. Since the same grid rules apply, approval rates at this stage are slim. If time has elapsed between the initial application and the reconsideration you may submit fresh medical evidence (not older than 90 days) which can work to your advantage. The rate of approval at this stage in Arizona is 12.1%.
- The Court Hearing: Your case will be presented before an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) who acts independently of a disability examiner. This is the best opportunity you have to present your case and you must make the best use of it. The judge may allow you to bring in medical and vocational experts to speak on your behalf. In Arizona, the approval rate at the disability hearing level is about 56%.
- The Appeals Council: The Council reviews the decision made by the ALJ looking for any discrepancies that may turn the case in your favor. The Council can reverse the decision of the ALJ or send your case to another ALJ.
- Federal Review: Unless you have a solid case, not many are advised to file an appeal at this last and final stage. It’s time-consuming, expensive, and stressful. You may want to start all over again and re-apply for SSDI benefits.
An appeal at every stage must be filed with the SSA within 60 days of the date of the denial notice. Having an attorney or advocate representing you at the appeals stage can increase your chances of winning by 50-60%. This is because advocates are specialized in SSDI claims matters. They have the experience and know how to present your case in a way that demonstrates you meet SSDI requirements for claims approval.
Fill out our free disability evaluation form today to get in touch with our advocates and get the benefits you deserve! The SSDI claims process can take several months so do not wait any further to apply. If you know right now that your disability could last a year or more, fill the form on the right and let us help you get the benefits you deserve.
Helpful Resources for those with Disabilities in Arizona
If you’re not qualified for Social Security Disability Insurance or would like additional support, the Arizona’s State Administration offers several other programs to help people with different disabilities. Follow the links below to know more about these helpful programs:
- Arizona 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.
- Nutrition Assistance: This 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.