Social Security Disability Insurance in the State of Colorado
People who live in Colorado are generally in good health with a low prevalence of obesity and diabetes compared to other states. This state ranks 8th on America’s State Healing Rankings. However, mental illness is common with close to 5 million residents suffering from severe mental illness. About 33% of those on the Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) beneficiary list are those with disabilities that stem from a mental disorder.
If you suffer from a serious disability you may be able to qualify for federal programs like the SSDI. Those who have contributed to the Social Security system are entitled to these benefits if they have earned enough work credits. This is a federal insurance program that provides benefits if you suffer from a serious disability that prevents you from working for at least one year. There are other conditions of eligibility such as:
- Having a disability that prevents you from engaging in substantial gainful activity.
- Your disability must meet or be comparable to a medical condition listed in the Social Security Administration’s (SSA’s) Blue Book.
In Colorado about 32% of the applicants are approved for SSDI benefits at the initial application level.
Filing a Social Security Disability Insurance Claim in Colorado
About 10.7% of residents in Colorado suffer from a disability but not all disabilities qualify for SSDI benefits. There are two ways SSDI benefits can be awarded:
- If your disability is an exact match to one or more impairments listed in the Blue Book, the SSA will immediately move you on the fast track process to claims approval.
- If your disability is comparable or equivalent to a listing in the Blue Book, benefits can be received through what is called a medical vocational allowance.
The vast majority of people applying for SSDI claims fall in the second category. To determine whether you can receive a medical vocational allowance, the SSA will look at your medical and vocational history. They will review the last 15 years of your work history and may evaluate your Residual Functional Capacity (RFC) which is an assessment of your physical and mental limitations. The SSA is basically looking to see whether your disability prevents you from working at your current job or any other job for which you have the skillset. If you are not able to work at all at least for a year, the SSA will grant you benefits through a medical vocational allowance.
The entire process can take several months. Delays can be due to a backlog in the systems or because claimants fail to file complete information regarding their disability. You must file detailed information that includes the onset date, treatment physicians and their contact details. It would be to your advantage to know how the SSDI claims process works and what kind of paperwork is required to facilitate a faster SSDI claims process.
Click here to know more about the SSDI application process or watch the informative video below.
Every state follows the same procedure for filing an application for SSDI benefits. In the state of Colorado there are 17 Social Security offices. You can apply online, by phone, or in person at a Social Security office near you.
The SSA will receive your case but sends it to a state agency called the Disability Determinations Services (DDS) where a disability examiner is assigned to your case. The disability examiner is trained to make a determination based on the evidence you provide. The examiner will request for your medical records from the treatment centers you have listed and may request for consultative examinations with other medical and vocational experts. You may be called for an interview in person, via video or telephone if you are not in a position to come.
Only 31.8% of SSDI claims are awarded benefits at the initial application level in Colorado. 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 the appeals process is almost identical to the initial application process except another disability examiner reviews your case to see if any important evidence has been overlooked. The outcome of an approval is slim unless you have recent medical evidence that shows a downgrade in your condition. (Recent means not more than 90 days old.) The rate of approval at this stage in Colorado is 23.1%.
- The Court Hearing: An Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) will be the sole judge. This stage is the most favorable to applicants as it allows you to provide all the evidence you need to demonstrate you clearly meet the SSDI criteria for approval. You will have an opportunity to speak for yourself and the judge may allow the statements of your treatment physicians and other medical and vocational experts. In Colorado, the approval rate at the disability hearing level is 47.8%.
- The Appeals Council: The decision of the ALJ will be reviewed by the Council. They may send your case to another ALJ if they determine that some important evidence was overlooked.
- Federal Review: This is the last stage in the appeals process. Only a few appeal at this level. Filing for an appeal here would mean your case has been unfairly treated at every level of the claims process.
An appeal at any stage must be filed with the SSA within 60 days of the date of the denial notice. It is not advisable to represent yourself particularly at the hearing stage. Statistics show that having an advocate or a legal representative can increase the chances of success by as much as 60%. More than half the claimants are approved for benefits at the hearing stage making it prudent to have your case represented by an advocate. The advocates at Disability United are experienced in SSDI claims and will know why your claim was denied in the first place. They can help you prepare a case that has the best chance to meet with success.
Why not find it out today whether you can qualify for SSDI benefits? Fill out our free disability evaluation form and we’ll tell you how fair a chance you have of being approved for a claim.
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 Colorado
If you’re not qualified for Social Security Disability Insurance or would like additional support, the Colorado State Administration offers several other programs to help people with different disabilities. Follow the links below to know more about these helpful programs:
- Disability Resources: A list of disability resources providing a wide range of resources for people with different types of disabilities can be found here.
- 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.