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Illinois Disability Benefits

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Social Security Disability Insurance in the State of Illinois


In regards to Illinois’ state of health, a study conducted by the United Health Foundation puts Illinois in the 28th position of America’s Health Ranking citing air pollution as one of the state’s major health challenges. Air pollution is often associated with lung disease and other types of breathing disorders which could account for the number of Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) recipients getting benefits for disabilities that stem from respiratory system diseases (more than 3%). The top two diagnostics on the SSDI beneficiary list are disabilities that stem from a mental disorders (38%%) and musculoskeletal system diseases (24%).

DU Infographics Illinois State v1

Recipients of SSDI benefits are those who have paid into the Social Security system and have earned enough work credits. In order to be eligible for SSDI benefits claimants will need to demonstrate their disability:


  • Has lasted or is likely to last at least 12 months.
  • Meets one or more of the listings in the Social Security Administration’s Blue Book.
  • Is comparable to a Blue Book listing.
  • Prevents you from working at your past job or working at any other job.
  • Hinders you from earning a substantial and gainful income.


In Illinois only about 29% of claimants are awarded SSDI benefits in the initial application stage. This is slightly lower than the national average of around 30%.


Filing a Social Security Disability Insurance Claim in Illinois


About 11.1% of residents in Illinois suffer from a disability. If you meet the SSDI eligibility criteria you can apply for SSDI benefits online, by phone, or in person at a Social Security office near you. In the state of Illinois there are 48 Social Security offices. This is how the initial application for a claim works:


  • Your case will be assigned to a social security disability examiner who works for a state agency.
  • The disability examiner will request for your medical records from the treatment centers you have listed. Providing detailed and accurate information will help facilitate the application process faster.
  • The examiner will call you for an in-person interview. If you are unable to come in person, a video or telephone interview can be arranged.


If you don’t meet an exact listing in the Blue Book, the disability examiner will begin looking at other medical evidence that would establish a disability as defined by the SSA. The examiner will obtain your work medical records for the past 15 years. Your Residual Functional Capacity (RFC) will be evaluated to determine the physical and functional limitations your disability presents. If the disability examiner determines that you are unable to work at your current job or any other job because of the limitations of your disability, you will receive a medical vocational allowance.


A major reason for the delay in the application process is because the claimant has filed incomplete information and therefore time is spent by the disability examiner in retrieving the information necessary for him to make a fair determination. The documented proof you provide must demonstrate that you meet the SSDI eligibility criteria. Knowing the type of documentation that is required and how the SSDI claims process works will help you build your case more thoroughly.


Click here to know more about the SSDI application process or watch the informative video below.



Only 29% of SSDI claims are awarded benefits at the initial application level in Illinois. The rest (71%) of people will receive a denial notice and be forced to appeal in order to get benefits they are entitled to. Don’t give up after the initial denial because statistics show the odds of being awarded SSDI benefits are better when you appeal. The process of appeals consists of 4 stages.


  1. Reconsideration: This process is identical to the initial application stage except for the fact that another disability examiner reviews your medical records and evidence to check if the first examiner has overlooked any important evidence that could overturn the decision of denial. You also have an opportunity to present new medical evidence at this stage if more than 90 days have lapsed from the initial application. The rate of approval at the Reconsideration level in Illinois is 8.3%. The 91.7% of claimants who get a denial notice must appeal to the next level where chances of success are much greater.
  2. The Court Hearing: Your case will be presented before an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ). Medical and vocational experts may be called in during the hearing to help evaluate your case. Judges are known to give considerable weight to such witnesses. In Illinois, the approval rate at the disability hearing level is 49.1%, which is lower than the national average of 59% but still presents you with a very good opportunity of winning your claim.
  3. The Appeals Council: The Council will review your case to determine whether the decision made by the ALJ was fair. The Appeals Council has the power to reverse the ALJ’s decision, send it back to another ALJ or deny your claim. For most claimants, this is the last recourse they choose for appeal. But a few do appeal further at the federal level.
  4. Federal Review: The last and final recourse of appeal is the federal court. The chances of winning a claim here are fairly slim but if you have a solid case that you feel was unfairly judged by the SSA, you may appeal to the Federal Court.


Appeals must be filed within 60 days of the date of the denial notice. Getting legal representation or a non-attorney who is specialized in the SSDI claims process to represent you will greatly increase your chances of winning an SSDI claim. They can help you with the legal jargon and know exactly the kind of paperwork the judge is looking for to meet a specific listing in the Blue Book. Needless to say, having an advocate or a non-attorney specialized in SSDI matters by your side can save you time, money and stress. Many non-attorneys have been employees in the SSA and even worked as disability examiners. This gives them uniquely special insights into the system that they can use to your advantage.


Don’t wait to apply for SSDI benefits if you know your disability will last at least a year. The SSDI claims process can take several months and it is better to apply early.


Fill out our free disability evaluation form on the right today!  Let us help you get the benefits you deserve.


Helpful Resources for those with Disabilities in Illinois


If you’re not qualified for Social Security Disability Insurance or would like additional support, the Illinois State administration offers several other programs to help people with different disabilities. Follow the links below to know more about these helpful programs:


  • Illinois Department of Human Services: This state agency monetary and medical assistance for the aged, blind and disabled.
  • Vocational Rehabilitation: This program assists those who are disabled prepare for and find quality employment.
  • Health Benefits for Workers with Disabilities: This state program provides health benefits for people with disabilities and their families.
  • 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.