Social Security Disability Insurance in the State of Maine
Maine ranks 15 on America’s State Health Rankings. The main health concern is excessive drinking which often leads to many mental health issues. About 20% of the residents in Maine suffer from a mental illness and about 43% of those with disabilities on the Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) list suffer from a mental disorder. Diseases related to the musculoskeletal system account for the second highest on the list (27%).
If you suffer from a disability in Maine and have earned enough work credits in the Social Security system, you can apply for SSDI benefits if you meet certain medical and non-medical conditions of eligibility such as:
- Your disability has lasted or is likely to last for at least one year and prevents you from engaging in substantial gainful activity.
- The Social Security Administration’s (SSA’s) Blue Book contains a list of impairments that qualify for SSDI benefits. You must meet an exact listing or suffer from a medical condition that is equivalent to a listing.
On average, 29% of the applicants are approved for SSDI benefits at the initial application level in Maine.
Filing a Social Security Disability Insurance Claim in Maine
About 16.3% of residents in Maine suffer from a disability. If you have a disability that exactly meets a listing, your chances of a quick approval of claims are extremely good.
The majority of claims, however, will not meet an exact listing and will be approved through a medical vocational allowance. If your condition does not match a listing you will need to substantiate your claim with medical and vocational evidence that clearly shows your disability prevents you from working and earning a substantial gainful income. For this a claimant should make sure he provides detailed and accurate information that includes a list of employers of the last 15 years, treatment physicians, clinics and hospitals, etc. The SSA will also evaluate your Residual Functional Capacity (RFC), a measurement of your physical and mental capabilities to determine whether you can work at your current job or any other job where your skills can be transferred. The more information you provide the easier it will be for the disability examiner to make a fair decision. A medical vocational allowance is approved only to those whose disabilities prevent them from working at any job.
The SSDI claims process can take 3 to 5 months. It can take longer if there is a backlog in the SSA system, but the most common reason for delays is not filing complete information. Claimants should take time to learn as much as possible about the SSDI claims process or contact an experienced advocate such as Disability United.
Click here to know more about the SSDI application process or watch the informative video below.
An SSDI claims process is initiated by filing an application at your local Social Security office in person, or online or by phone. In Maine, there are 7 Social Security offices. Your case is received at the Social Security office but is transferred to a state agency where a disability examiner will determine your case based on all the evidence that can be obtained from the treatment centers listed. The examiner may request you to undergo further diagnostics and he may consult with medical and vocational experts to help make his decision.
Since only 29.2% of SSDI claims are awarded benefits at the initial application level in Maine, the majority will need to follow the appeals process to get their claims approved. The process of appeals consists of 4 stages.
- Reconsideration: The first stage of the appeals process is almost indistinguishable from the initial application process. Your case remains with the state agency but is transferred to another disability examiner. Unless you have new medical evidence that shows your condition has downgraded, the chances of getting approved at this level are very slim. The rate of approval at this stage in Maine is 11%.
- The Court Hearing: The court hearing presents you with the best chance for winning your case. This takes place outside the state agency and the Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) will review the case independent of the state agency’s previous determinations. You are at liberty to present your case in a way that demonstrates you meet the SSA definition of disability. The chances of your claim getting approved at this level in Maine are very likely as the average approval rate in 61.1%.
- The Appeals Council: The Appeals Council is located in Falls Church, Virginia and reviews all the appeals after a hearing. It may agree with the hearing decision or it may send your case to another ALJ for fresh hearing.
- Federal Review: The last and final stage of appeal is the federal court. Not many choose to go to this last stage because it is expensive and slow and the verdict is less likely to be in favor of the claimant.
Appeals should be filed immediately after a denial although the SSA gives 60 days from the date of the denial notice to file an appeal, to reduce processing time. It is important to note that getting an advocate to represent your case, especially at the hearing level, can considerably increase your chances of success. The reason why the rate of approval is higher at the hearing level is because the ALJ is open to looking at all the evidence you present. An experienced advocate will gather all the necessary evidence and prep you for appearing before the ALJ. Advocacy can help save you time, money, not to mention, the stress that comes with having to represent yourself.
If you are suffering from a disability and have little or no means of earning a living, find out whether you can qualify for SSDI benefits. Fill out our free disability evaluation form today.
Our advocates are specialists in SSDI matters and can help you process your claim. Start the claims process now if you know that your disability is projected to last a year. Fill the form on the right and let us help you get the benefits you deserve.
Helpful Resources for those with Disabilities in Maine
If you’re not qualified for Social Security Disability Insurance or would like additional support, the Maine State Administration offers several other programs to help people with different disabilities. Follow the links below to know more about these helpful programs:
- Maine Department of Health and 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.
- 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.