Social Security Disability Insurance in the State of Montana
The state of Montana battles with excessive drinking problems and its consequences on health, lost wages, and productivity. Although the state ranks 23rd on America’s State Health Rankings, the number of people on the Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) beneficiary list with disabilities related to the nervous system and mental disorders are high (47%). The second top diagnostic on the SSDI recipient list are those who have disabilities that stem from musculoskeletal diseases (29%).
Federal programs like SSDI provide regular benefits to people who are disabled and unable to work for at least one year. In order to apply, you need to meet certain conditions of eligibility such as:
- Meeting a medical condition listed in the Social Security Administration’s (SSA’s) Blue Book or have an impairment that is equivalent to a listing.
- Having a disability that has lasted at least one year or is projected to last a year.
- Having a disability that prevents you from working and engaging in substantial gainful activity.
- Having earned enough work credits in the Social Security system.
Filing a Social Security Disability Insurance Claim in Montana
About 13.9% of residents in Montana suffer from a disability. Not every disability qualifies for SSDI benefits. There are two ways you can be approved for SSDI benefits.
The first way is when your medical condition matches a listing in the Blue Book. The SSA will easily approve your claim for benefits if you meet a listing. The claims process is expedited for cases that are more severe or terminal. The SSA recognizes that such cases need quick access to benefits.
The second way you can be approved for benefits is when your medical condition does not meet an exact listing in the Blue Book, but is equivalent to a listing. How does the SSA determine whether your condition is comparable to a listing? The SSA will review your work and medical history as well as your current medical records. They will evaluate your Residual Functional Capacity (RFC) which is an assessment of your functional limitations such as reduced ability to do daily activities like sitting, standing or walking more than a certain length of time. Your difficulty level in maintaining attention or concentration or lifting a certain amount of weight will be evaluated. This information will help the SSA determine if you are able to return to regular work activity, or your skills can be transferred to any other job that would help you earn a gainful income. Only claimants who cannot work at any job for at least a year will be approved for benefits through a medical vocational allowance.
The initial application can take anywhere between 3 to 4 months. There may be delays due to a backlog in the Social Security system. The most common cause of delay, however, is due to claimants not filing accurate or complete information on their application form. Before filling a form, it is often helpful to know what the SSA is looking for and why a detailed account of your work history and medical information is necessary.
Click here to know more about the SSDI application process or watch the informative video below.
In the state of Montana there are 10 Social Security offices. Applications can be filed online, by phone, or in person at a Social Security office near you. Here’s how the procedure takes place:
- The SSA receives your application forms.
- Your file is transferred to a state agency usually called the Disability Determination Services (DDS) where it is assigned to a Social Security disability examiner.
- He will make electronically-generated requests for medical evidence from the treatment centers you have listed.
- A determination is based on medical and vocational information provided by you.
Only 35.4% of SSDI claims are awarded benefits at the initial application level in Montana. The majority will receive a denial notice but have a good chance of success through the process of appeals which consists of 4 stages.
- Reconsideration: Being almost identical to the initial application process, the chances of approval at this first stage of the appeals process are very slim. The only difference is that another disability examiner reviews your case. The approval rate is 17.7% at the reconsideration stage in Montana.
- The Court Hearing: About half (50.5%) the claimants are approved at this level on average. This is the best chance you have to show the SSA that your condition meets the SSDI criteria for approval. An Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) will review your case. You are allowed to present any evidence that will bolster your case including testimonies from your treatment physician or other medical and vocational experts.
- The Appeals Council: The Council, located in Falls Church, Virginia, will review the decision of the ALJ. They can approve your claim or send it to another ALJ for a fresh hearing.
- Federal Review: Most people will go through the first 2 stages of appeal and stop at the third. This fourth and last stage of appeal is expensive and is least likely to end in your claim being approved. You may want to consider starting the SSDI application process all over again.
Appeals must reach the SSA office not later than 65 days after the date of the denial notice. If you don’t meet this deadline, you’ll have to start the application process all over again. Having an advocate can greatly benefit your case particularly during the appeals process. Not only will they make sure you don’t miss the deadline for an appeal but they can help you gather evidence that will clearly show your condition meets the SSDI qualifications criteria. Advocates understand why your claim was denied in the first place and can help you present a well-prepared case. An important factor to establish in your hearing with the help of an advocate is the disability onset date. An early onset date can result in higher back pay from the SSA.
Are you suffering from a disability that is likely to put you out of work for at least a year? Fill out our free disability evaluation form today to find out whether you’re eligible for SSDI benefits.
Applying early will mean you start getting your benefits sooner. We advise you not to wait. Fill the form on the right and let us help you get the benefits you deserve.
Helpful Resources for those with Disabilities in Montana
If you’re not qualified for Social Security Disability Insurance or would like additional support, the Montana State Administration offers several other programs to help people with different disabilities. Follow the links below to know more about these helpful programs:
- Montana Developmental Services Division: This website provides a wide range of resources for people with developmental disabilities looking for assistance in care and support, 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.