Social Security Disability Insurance in the State of Kentucky
The state of Kentucky is also known for being the third largest producer of coal. Unfortunately, coal production has an adverse impact on the environment and this may be one reason why Kentucky ranks 44th on America’s Health Ranking. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), smoking leads to disease and disability and impacts every organ of the body. Diseases of the musculoskeletal system, respiratory system, nervous and circulatory systems account for 52% of the Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) beneficiary list in Kentucky. Disabilities that stem from a mental disorder top the SSDI beneficiary list constituting 33%.
SSDI is a federal program that provides benefits for people who meet the Social Security Administration’s (SSA’s) unique definition of disability as laid out in their Blue Book. The SSA defines a disability as one that is likely to last one year, and prevents you from engaging in substantial gainful activity. You must meet certain conditions of eligibility which includes having earned enough work credits in the Social Security system.
In the state of Kentucky only about 23% of SSDI claimants receive benefits at the initial application level. Because these rates are lower than the national average (30%) claimants can benefit from representation. Getting an advocate can help you maximize the chances of winning a claim at the earliest stage possible.
Filing a Social Security Disability Insurance Claim in Kentucky
About 17% of residents in Kentucky suffer from a disability. If your disability meets or is equivalent to one or more of the listings in the Blue Book, you can apply for SSDI. The time it takes for your application to be processed is generally 3 to 5 months but may be longer if there is a backlog in the Social Security systems. If you suffer from an extremely severe disability, the SSA will automatically fast track your application.
If your disability is not an exact match to a listing in the Blue Book you still have a good chance of getting benefits approved on the basis of a medical vocational allowance. The disability examiner who reviews your case will look for functional limitations that show you cannot return to work activity. The examiner will look at the last 15 years of work experience and evaluate your Residual Functional Capacity (RFC) to assess your physical and mental capabilities. You may be required to undergo further diagnostics to assess your condition.
The most common reason for delay in the initial application process is lack of information from the claimant. You can help facilitate the initial application process by providing accurate and detailed records of your disability, clearly establishing an onset day. It is important to establish an onset date to receive the maximum amount of back pay from the SSA. Click here to know more about the SSDI application process or watch the informative video below.
Being a federal program, the procedure for starting the SSDI claims application process is the same in every state. In the state of Kentucky there are 25 Social Security offices. You can apply online, by phone, or in person at a Social Security office near you. Your case will be assigned to a Social Security Disability examiner who works for a state agency. The examiner will request for your medical records from treatment sources you have listed. You may be asked to come for an interview in person, or via telephone or video if you are not able to attend in person.
Only 23.2% of SSDI claims are awarded benefits at the initial application level in Kentucky. If you are denied benefits at the initial application you still have a good chance of winning benefits through the SSDI process of appeals which consists of 4 stages.
- Reconsideration: There isn’t much of a difference between this first stage of appeals and the initial application process, except the fact that your file is reviewed by another disability examiner. If more than 90 days have elapsed from the date you filed your initial application, you may be able to submit more recent medical records (not more than 90 days old). About 7.8% are approved for benefits at the Reconsideration stage in Kentucky. More than 90% are denied but these have a higher chance of winning a claim at the next level.
- The Court Hearing: You may have to wait several months before your hearing is scheduled but it is well worth the wait. Your case is reviewed by an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) whose decision is independent from a disability examiner. The judge will give considerable weightage to the testimonies of medical and vocational experts. About 55% of claims get approved at the hearing stage in Kentucky. The rest still have a chance to appeal further.
- The Appeals Council: Your case is reviewed by the Council who will assess whether the decision made by the ALJ was fairly determined. The Council has the power to reverse a judge’s decision or send it to another judge for another hearing.
- Federal Review: This is your last resort for appeal. Very few choose to go up to this stage as it is expensive and time-consuming and the chances of winning a claim here are very slim. Most claimants are advised to submit a fresh application for SSDI benefits.
Appeals need to be filed within 60 days of the date of the denial notice. If your request for an appeal does not reach the SSA office within 65 days, you will need to re-start the application process which means you lose valuable time. Much depends on how well-prepared your case is. If you haven’t hired an advocate by now, you’re advised to have one for the hearing level. Advocates can help you avoid missing deadlines for appeals, collect the necessary medical information, obtain statements from your treating physician, and hire medical and vocational experts to substantiate your eligibility. In other words, an advocate can present your case in such a way that it is very clear you meet the SSDI criteria.
Many who suffer from a disability make the mistake of waiting to file an SSDI claim. Remember, eligibility to receive these benefits is not based on your financial status but rather on whether your disability fits the SSA definition of disability.
Find out if you meet SSDI’s requirements. All you need to do is fill out our free disability evaluation form.
The SSDI claims process can take several months so do not wait to apply. 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 Kentucky
If you’re not qualified for Social Security Disability Insurance or would like additional support, the Kentucky State Administration offers several other programs to help people with different disabilities. Follow the links below to know more about these helpful programs:
- Department for Behavioral, Developmental and Intellectual Disabilities: 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.