Social Security Disability Insurance in the State of Connecticut
Connecticut ranks 6th on America’s State Health Rankings. While most people in Connecticut are generally in good health, the same report shows that residents here have a problem with excessive drinking. Excessive or binge drinking may lead to chronic disease, injury and a number of associated mental disorders. In fact, the highest percentage of beneficiaries on the Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) list is those with a disability that stems from a mental illness (44%). The second top diagnostic are those with disabilities related to diseases of the musculoskeletal system (22%).
Federal programs like the SSDI provide benefits to those who are disabled. Not every disability qualifies for SSDI benefits. You must meet certain medical and non-medical eligibility criteria such as:
- Not being able to work in a substantial gainful activity because of your disability.
- You have earned enough work credits in the Social Security system.
- Medical criteria include meeting or having a disability that is equivalent to a medical condition listed in the Social Security Administration’s (SSA’s) Blue Book.
- Medical evidence that shows your disability is projected to last or has lasted at least 12 months.
In Connecticut about 29% of the applicants are approved for SSDI benefits at the initial application level.
Filing a Social Security Disability Insurance Claim in Connecticut
About 10.7% of residents in Connecticut suffer from a disability. A disability must meet the definition of “disability” as described by the SSA. If a disability is an exact match to any one or more of the medical conditions listed in the Blue Book, the chances of a claim being approved are extremely good. The SSA computer systems are able to identify such cases and put them on the fast track process for claims approval. The SSA also recognizes terminal or extremely severe cases of disability and may grant them quick access to benefits through the Compassionate Allowance program.
The vast majority of the people will not meet an exact impairment listed in the Blue Book. In such cases, the SSA will look at a claimant’s:
- Medical history
- Vocational history
The SSA will review your case to determine how your disability limits your daily activities and work functions. This is done by measuring your Residual Functional Capacity (RFC) which shows how long you can walk, sit, reach, stand, carry, etc. The SSA will also review the last 15 years of your work records to see the skill sets you have. If your disability prevents you from working at your current job and your skill sets cannot be transferred to any other job, the SSA will approve SSDI benefits through what is called a medical vocational allowance.
The average time it takes for the SSA to review your claim is 90 to 120 days. However, delays are not uncommon. It may be because of a backlog in the Social Security systems or because a claimant has failed to file accurate or complete information. It is often helpful for claimants to become familiar with the SSDI claims process to make sure they know what is required. You may also want to consider hiring an advocate such as Disability United even at this early stage in order to increase your chances of getting an approval at the earliest possible stage.
Click here to know more about the SSDI application process or watch the informative video below.
In the state of Connecticut there are 17 Social Security offices. Beginning the SSDI claims process starts by applying online, by phone, or in person at a Social Security office near you. While the Social Security office receives your claim it is transferred to a state agency called the Disability Determinations Services (DDS). Here, a disability examiner, trained in the SSDI claims process to be the sole decision-maker, is assigned to your case. He will retrieve your medical records from the treatment centers you have listed. He may call you for a consultative examination if the examiner finds no recent records in your file. Recent is defined as not more than 90 days.
With such stringent criteria it is often difficult to get an approval at the initial application stage. Only 29.3% of SSDI claims are awarded benefits at this level in Connecticut. The vast majority will have a better chance of getting their claim approved if they go through the process of appeals which consists of 4 stages.
- Reconsideration: There is not much difference between this stage and the initial application stage except another disability examiner reviews your case. Unless the first disability examiner has overlooked important evidence that could turn your case around or your condition has taken a significant downturn, it is unlikely that you will receive approval at this level. The rate of approval at this stage in Connecticut is 10.4%.
- The Court Hearing: You may have to wait several months for a scheduled hearing but this stage gives you the best opportunity to present your case to an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) in a way that clearly shows you meet the SSDI criteria. You are allowed to bring in the testimonies of your treatment physician and other medical and vocational experts as well as testify on your behalf. In Connecticut, the approval rate at the disability hearing level is 54.1%.
- The Appeals Council: The decision of the ALJ is reviewed by the Council to see if it was fairly determined. If they believe the decision was inaccurate, they may approve your claim or send your case to another ALJ for a re-hearing.
- Federal Review: Unless you have a solid case to show that your case was unfairly treated at every stage of the SSDI claims process, you are well advised not appeal at this level. The better option would be to start the application process all over again.
An appeal must reach the SSA within 65 days of the date of the denial notice. It is extremely prudent to get an advocate to represent you particularly at the hearing stage where your chances of approval increase significantly when you are well-represented. The advocates at Disability United are specialized in the SSDI claims process. Their experience helps them to understand why your claim was denied in the first place. They also know what kind of evidence the ALJ is looking for to prompt a favorable decision.
To find out whether you qualify for SSDI benefits fill out our free disability evaluation form today!
If you suffer from a disability that prevents you from working for at least one year, don’t wait to start applying for claims. The SSDI claims process can take several months and the earlier you start the sooner you can start getting benefits. Fill the form on the right and let us help you get the benefits you deserve.
Helpful Resources for those with Disabilities in Connecticut
If you’re not qualified for Social Security Disability Insurance or would like additional support, the Connecticut State Administration offers several other programs to help people with different disabilities. Follow the links below to know more about these helpful programs:
- Department of Social Services: This website provides a wide range of resources for people with developmental disabilities looking for assistance in job training, residential services and more.
- Connecticut Department of Labor: Here, you’ll find disability resources for job seekers.
- 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.