Social Security Disability Insurance in the State of Arkansas
Arkansas’ overall health status ranks among the lowest in the country at No. 48. It’s the state with the highest prevalence of obesity. Obesity is associated with a range of metabolic diseases. It can also lead to higher rates of depression as well as diseases of the musculoskeletal system which, in Arkansas, account for the highest diagnostics on the Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) list. Mental disorders and diseases of the musculoskeletal system together constitute 62% of the people on the SSDI list.
Anyone in Arkansas can qualify for SSDI benefits as long as they fit the Social Security Administration’s (SSA’s) definition of disability. Not only must your disability meet or be equivalent to one or more impairments listed in the SSA’s Blue Book but SSDI eligibility requires you meet medical and non-medical criteria:
- You must be unable to work in substantial gainful activity.
- You must have earned enough work credits in the Social Security system.
In Arkansas about 30% of the applicants are approved for SSDI benefits at the initial application level.
Filing a Social Security Disability Insurance Claim in Arkansas
About 17% of residents in Arkansas suffer from a disability. Disabilities that meet an exact listing in the Blue Book have a higher chance of quick approval. The SSA’s computer systems are able to identify disabilities that meet an exact listing from the information you provide on your application form. It is therefore very important that you provide detailed and accurate information that clearly shows you meet SSA’s disability definition.
The majority of people will not meet an exact listing in the Blue Book but the SSA can provide a medical vocational allowance to people whose disability is comparable or equivalent to any one of the listings in the Blue Book. To be approved for a medical allowance, the SSA will review your work history (past 15 years) to see if your skills are transferrable to any other job. It will also evaluate your Residual Functional Capacity (RFC) to assess your physical and mental limitations. Your age and educational qualifications will also be considered in the determination process. A medical allowance is given to people whose disabilities prevents them from working at their current job or any other job for at least a year.
The initial application process generally takes 3 to 5 months, but can exceed that time frame if there is a backlog in the SSA system. Delays are common if you have not provided the SSA with complete information about your disability. Knowing how the SSDI claims process works can help you better prepare a winning case. Many seek professional guidance even at this stage to improve their chances of getting an approval at the earliest possible stage This is where advocates come into play and can assist you along your journey to achieving the benefits you deserve.
Click here to know more about the SSDI application process or watch the informative video below.
In the state of Arkansas there are 17 Social Security offices. Applications are accepted online, over the 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). The DDS will assign you file to a Social Security Disability examiner who has been trained to determine SSDI claims. Medical records from the treatment centers you have listed will be retrieved. The disability examiner may consult vocational and medical experts or have you undergo further diagnostics.
Only 30.3% of SSDI claims are awarded benefits at the initial application level in Arkansas. Those who receive a denial notice actually have a better chance of winning their claim through the process of appeals which consists of 4 stages.
- Reconsideration: Another disability examiner from the state agency will review your case. Since the process is similar to the initial application process, chances of getting approved for benefits at this stage are not very high. In Arkansas, the rate of approval is 8.7%. The next stage, however, holds the highest potential for approval.
- The Court Hearing: An Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) will review your case at a court hearing. His decision will be independent of the previous two disability examiners. He may allow vocational and medical experts to witness on your behalf. ALJs usually give weightage to a statement from your treatment physician. Here, you have the best chance of presenting your case in a way that shows you meet the SSDI criteria for approval. In Arkansas, the approval rate at the disability hearing level is 49.6%.
- The Appeals Council: The Council will determine whether the decision made by the ALJ was fairly determined. 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: Most people are advised to file a fresh application rather than appealing at the federal court level. Unless you have a fool-proof case, appealing at this level may be time-consuming, expensive and fruitless.
The SSA gives you a 60-day limit from the date of the denial notice to file an appeal. Appeals must reach the SSA within 65 days and if you fail this timeframe, you will have to start the application process all over again. If you haven’t sought legal advice earlier, having an advocate to represent you at a court hearing can definitely increase your chances of winning a claim. You can find advocates who specialize in SSDI claims cases, such as DisabilityUnited. They are extremely experienced and know exactly what an ALJ is looking for in terms of expert witnesses, physician statements, and diagnostics. They can also help you increase the benefits you get by helping you establish an early onset date resulting in more back pay.
You don’t have to wait to apply for SSDI benefits. If you have a disability that has been preventing you from working and it is likely that you won’t be able to work for at least one year, start the SSDI application process right away!
Fill out our free disability evaluation form today and get in contact with professional advocates to see if you qualify for benefits. We’ll help you get the benefits you are entitled to.
Helpful Resources for those with Disabilities in Arkansas
If you’re not qualified for Social Security Disability Insurance or would like additional support, the Arkansas State Administration offers several other programs to help people with different disabilities. Follow the links below to know more about these helpful programs:
- Arkansas Department of Human Services: 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.