Social Security Disability Insurance in the State of Louisiana
Louisiana has the 4th highest percentage of obesity in the nation with close to 35% of its population being obese. Obesity contributes to disability at all ages and is also closely linked to depression and other mental health disorders. A growing issue with obesity is of concern since it is also linked to diabetes and musculoskeletal problems. About 60% of those on the Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) beneficiary list are people who suffer from disabilities related to mental health and musculoskeletal diseases. In Louisiana, 15% of residents are disabled and a little more than 6% of these receive SSDI benefits.
Not every disability qualifies the Social Security Administration’s (SSA’s) definition of disability. Your disability must meet a medical condition listed in the SSA’s Blue Book and must be severe enough to interfere with daily activities for at least one year. Other medical and non-medical conditions of ssdi eligibility include:
- A disability that prevents you from engaging in substantial gainful activity.
- Having earned enough work credits in the Social Security system.
Filing a Social Security Disability Insurance Claim in Louisiana
About 33% of SSDI applicants are approved for benefits at the initial application level in this state. If your disability is an exact match to one or more impairments in the Blue Book, your chances of getting approved for benefits are very good.
The majority of people applying for SSDI claims do not meet an exact listing in the Blue Book. The SSA approves benefits for such people on the basis of a medical vocational allowance. The SSA will review your medical treatment history, work history (past 15 years), age, educational qualifications, transferrable job skills and Residual Functional Capacity (RFC) which is an assessment of functional limitations in terms of physical and mental capabilities. You may be required to undergo further diagnostics that would help the SSA make a fair determination on your case. The SSA will approve benefits through a medical vocational allowance only to those whose disabilities prevents them from working at their current job or at any other employment that allows them to earn a substantial and gainful income.
The initial application process can take 90 to 120 days, even longer if there is a backlog in the system. A common cause for the delay is because claimants often fail to file complete information. Knowing how the SSDI claims process works can benefit you in many ways. Click here to know more about the SSDI application process or watch the informative video below.
The procedure for starting the SSDI claims application process is the same in every state. In the state of Louisiana there are 24 Social Security offices. You can apply online, by phone, or in person at a Social Security office near you. While your application is received in an SSA office, it is transferred to a state agency, where your file will be assigned to a Social Security Disability examiner who is trained to make a determination on your case based on the medical and vocational evidence you provide. The disability examiner will request for your medical records from the treatment centers you have listed and may consult with medical and vocational experts in regard to your condition.
Since only 33% of the SSDI claims are awarded benefits at the initial application level in Louisiana, the rest are have to go through the appeals process in order to get the benefits they deserve. The process of appeals consists of 4 stages.
- Reconsideration: In Louisiana the rate of approval at this stage is much higher than the national average. About 24 in 100 get an approval here. The process is very similar to the initial application stage except another disability examiner will review your case. If you still get a denial notice at this stage, the odds of winning your claim are nearly doubled at the next level of appeal.
- The Court Hearing: Your case will be presented before an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) who may take into consideration the testimony of your treatment physician and other medical/vocational experts. This is the best opportunity you have and you must make sure that you have presented your case in a way that clearly demonstrates you meet the SSDI approval criteria. In Louisiana, the approval rate at the disability hearing level is 40.3%.
- The Appeals Council: This third stage in the appeals process will determine whether the decision made by the ALJ was fairly determined. The Council can reverse the decision of the ALJ or send your case to another ALJ. It can also agree with the ALJ at the hearing level and deny your claim.
- Federal Review: Although many have won their SSDI claims at this last level, few choose to take this option because it is expensive and the least likely to end in your favor. It is often advisable to make a fresh claim for SSDI benefits which means you need to start the process all over again.
Appeals must be filed with the SSA within 60 days of the date of the denial notice. You will want to consult with an advocate who specializes in SSDI claims at some point during your claims process. The goal is to get an approval at the earliest possible stage and get the maximum benefits through back pay which means establishing an early onset date. You might want to consider consulting with an advocate before filing your application but most definitely before the appeals process. Statistics indicate that judges are more favorable to awarding benefits to those who have legal representation. Advocates know the medical vocational grid rules and can help you strategize a winning case. They are available free of charge and are usually paid only if they win a case and the payment is a percentage of your benefits as set by the SSA.
To find out if you can qualify for SSDI benefit fill out our free disability evaluation form today!
If you know right now that your disability could last a year or more, we advise you not to wait any longer for filing for your SSDI benefits. Fill the form on the right and let us help you get the benefits you are entitled to.
Helpful Resources for those with Disabilities in Louisiana
If you’re not qualified for Social Security Disability Insurance or would like additional support, the Louisiana State Administration offers several other programs to help people with different disabilities. Follow the links below to know more about these helpful programs:
- Louisiana Department of Developmental 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 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.