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Iowa Disability Benefits

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Social Security Disability Insurance in the State of Iowa


Iowa has a high obesity ranking 35th on America’s State Obesity Rankings. This can often lead to short and long term disabilities related to mental health, the musculoskeletal system and other serious medical conditions. About 40% of those on the Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) beneficiary list are those with disabilities related to mental disorders. Disabilities related to the musculoskeletal system, common among those with weight problems, comes in second.

DU Infographics Iowa State v1

SSDI benefits are available to those with disabilities related to an injury or diseases associated with the nervous, respiratory and circulatory system. In fact, anyone with a disability can receive SSDI benefits if they meet certain conditions of eligibility. Your disability must last at least a year or be projected to last a year and must prevent you from working in substantial gainful activity. There are other medical conditions you must meet such as:


  • Your disability must meet or be equivalent to a medical condition listed in the Social Security Administration’s (SSA’s) Blue Book.
  • SSDI is a federal insurance program and you need to have earned enough work credits in the Social Security system.


In Iowa about 32% of the applicants are approved for SSDI benefits at the initial application level.


Filing a Social Security Disability Insurance Claim in Iowa


Although 12% of Iowa’s residents suffer from some form of disability not all are eligible to receive benefits under the SSDI program. The rules are rigid and there are only two ways in which SSDI benefits are awarded.


The first way is if your disability is an exact match to any one or more of the listings in the Blue Book. Your chances of a quick and easy approval are extremely good in this case. In fact, if you suffer from an extremely severe or terminal illness the SSA will put you on the fast track process to a claims approval in recognition of the fact that you need quick access to funds and treatment.


The second way that you can receive benefits is through a medical vocational allowance. This is available for claimants who don’t meet an exact listing in the Blue Book. You must be able to prove through medical and vocational evidence that your disability prevents you from working at any job. The SSA will evaluate your medical and vocational history (past 15 years’ work records) to see if your skills can be transferred to any other job. They will assess your Residual Functional Capacity (RFC) which is an evaluation of how much your disability allows you to function at daily and work activities. If you are capable of working at any other job where your skills can be transferred, you will not be approved for benefits. The SSA will approve benefits through a medical vocational allowance only if you are not able to function enough to be able to work at any job.


It takes about 3 to 4 months for a determination to be made at the initial application level. Delays are not uncommon and could be due to various reasons. If the SSA requires a claimant to undergo multiple diagnostics which can delay the process. The SSA may have a backlog in their system which can cause a delay. Another common reason is if the claimant has failed to file complete and accurate information. It is therefore necessary that you know the type of paperwork that is required in order to facilitate a faster disability claims process. Disability United can guide you in the paperwork.


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




There are 20 Social Security offices in the state of Iowa. You can apply online, by phone, or in person at a Social Security office near you. While the Social Security office receives your application form, it transfers it to a state agency called the Disability Determinations Services (DDS) where a disability examiner will be assigned to your case. He is responsible for retrieving medical records from the treatment centers you have listed. He may consult with other medical and vocational experts but relies heavily on the information you provide on your application form.


Only 32.3% of SSDI claims are awarded benefits at the initial application level in Iowa. Those who are denied and choose to go through the appeals will have a greater rate of approval. The process of appeals consists of 4 stages.


  1. Reconsideration: This process is almost identical to the initial application process except another disability examiner reviews your case. Unless recent medical evidence shows your condition has downgraded or the first examiner has been very incompetent, it is unlikely that you will get approved for benefits in this first stage of appeals. The rate of approval at this stage in Iowa is only 9.4%.
  2. The Court Hearing: Your case will be presented before an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) who is open to hearing from you and the testimonies of other medical and vocational experts. Judges often give high significance to the opinion of your treatment physician. In Iowa, more than half the claimants are approved at this stage (57.9%).
  3. The Appeals Council: The Council will approve, deny or dismiss a request for review. If it grants a request for a review it may either decide the case or send it back to another ALJ for a new decision.
  4. Federal Review: Claimants are actually advised not to pursue their claim to this level. It might be better to re-apply for SSDI benefits as this would offer a far better chance of approval.


It is important that you file appeals within 60 days of the date of the denial notice failing which you have to start the entire claims process all over again. This is one reason why you are advised to seek the services of an advocate when you are appealing. An advocate will ensure that you don’t miss the appeals deadline and that your case is thoroughly prepared with the highest chance of being approved by the ALJ. An advocate from Disability United is well-experienced in SSDI matters and will know why your case was denied in the first place. They know exactly what evidence is needed to trigger a ruling in your favor.


Find out whether you can qualify for SSDI benefits now. Fill out our free disability evaluation form today.


We understand how important it is for you to start receiving regular benefits soon which is why we advise you to start the process now. The SSDI claims process can take several months. 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 Iowa


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


  • Iowa 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.
  • Food Assistance program: 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.