Social Security Disability Insurance in the State of Mississippi
Arthritis is the leading cause of disability in Mississippi affecting 29% of Mississippians. One of the major causes for arthritis is obesity and this state has a high percentage of obese people, ranking 48 on America’s state obesity list.
Apart from arthritis, obesity is associated with other health conditions known to cause disability such as heart disease, cancer, diabetes and depression. The top two diagnostics on the Mississippi Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) beneficiary list are those with mental disorders (31%) and those with diseases related to the musculoskeletal system (27%).
Whether your disability stems from obesity or a general injury you may be able to qualify for disability benefits through federal programs like the SSDI if you can meet certain conditions of eligibility such as:
- Your disability has lasted or is projected to last for at least one year.
- You are unable to earn a living that would result in substantial gainful activity.
- Your disability must meet or is equivalent to a medical condition listed in the Social Security Administration’s (SSA’s) Blue Book.
- You have paid into the Social Security system and have earned enough work credits.
In Mississippi, only about 23.2% of the applicants are approved for SSDI benefits at the initial application level.
Filing a Social Security Disability Insurance Claim in Mississippi
About 16.9% of residents in Mississippi suffer from a disability and about 8% of these receive SSDI benefits. The SSA will easily approve benefits if your disability is an exact match to any one or more of the listings in the Blue Book.
The majority of people, however, will not meet exact conditions in the Blue Book but can be approved for benefits through a medical vocational allowance. To get approved for a medical vocational allowance the SSA will review the last 15 years of your work history, along with your medical history. They will also evaluate your Residual Functional Capacity (RFC) which is an assessment of your mental and physical limitations. Educational qualifications and skillsets are also taken into consideration. The detailed records you provide will help the SSA make a fair determination. Only those who cannot work at their current employment and those whose skills cannot be transferred to any other job will get approved for benefits through a medical vocational allowance.
The initial application process can take 3 to 5 months or longer due to possible backlogs in the Social Security system. A common reason for delay is because claimants often fail to file complete information. Make sure you provide the SSA with as much information as you can and double check it for accuracy. You may want to take the help of an advocate even at this early stage to make sure you provide evidence that would increase your chances of getting your claim approved at the earliest possible stage.
Click here to know more about the SSDI application process or watch the informative video below.
In Mississippi, as in other states, the application process can be started online, by phone, or in person at a Social Security office near you. There are 23 Social Security offices in Mississippi. While your application is received at an SSA office, it is transferred to a state agency called the Disability Determinations Services (DDS). There, a Social Security Disability examiner will be assigned to your case. Examiners are trained to make disability determinations by reviewing all the evidence retrieved through medical treatment sources you have provided. An examiner may also consult with medical and vocational experts and/or ask you to undergo further diagnostics to thoroughly assess your condition. You will be called for an interview which may be via video or telephone if you are not able to come in person.
Since only about 23% are awarded SSDI benefits at the initial application level in Mississippi those who receive a denial notice will need to go through the appeals system in order to get the benefits they are entitled to. The process of appeals consists of 4 stages.
- Reconsideration: The rate of approval is just 5.7%. This is because the first stage of the appeals process is very similar to the initial application process. Another disability examiner will review your case. New medical evidence may be presented at this stage only if enough time has elapsed and your file no longer contains recent medical records. Recent is defined as not older than 90 days.
- The Court Hearing: To get a scheduled hearing date may take several months but it is definitely worth the wait. This is the best opportunity you have for winning your case. Your case will be presented before an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) who acts independently from a disability examiner. He may give due weightage to your treatment physician’s testimony as well as medical and vocational experts. In Mississippi, the average approval rate at the disability hearing level is about 48%.
- The Appeals Council: This third stage is to ensure the ALJ has given you a just decision. After reviewing all the evidence, the Council may reverse the decision of the ALJ or send your case to another ALJ.
- 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 at every level must be filed within 60 days of the date of the denial notice failing which you are forced to start the application process all over again wasting valuable time.
It is important to understand that winning your claim depends greatly on the proper presentation of your disability and evidence that demonstrates you are unable to work at any job for at least one year. It would be to your advantage to hire an advocate such as Disability United to represent you, particularly at this crucial stage in the appeals process. Not only do advocates understand how the SSDI claims process works, but they know exactly what kind of evidence the ALJ is looking for to demonstrate you meet the SSDI criteria. Chances of winning a case with an advocate increase by 60%.
Getting the disability benefits you deserve starts by knowing whether you are eligible for SSDI benefits. Fill out our free disability evaluation form today and know for sure. Let us help you get the benefits you are entitled to. All you have to do is fill the form on the right.
Helpful Resources for those with Disabilities in Mississippi
If you’re not qualified for Social Security Disability Insurance or would like additional support, the Mississippi State Administration offers several other programs to help people with different disabilities. Follow the links below to know more about these helpful programs:
- Disabilities Quicklinks: 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.