Social Security Disability Insurance in the State of New Hampshire
People that live in New Hampshire live in the 5th healthiest state in the country. Most enjoy good health but the United Health Foundation states that a major health concern is excessive drinking and substance addiction. Such problems can lead to debilitating mental health problems that prevent people from working and earning a living. This is reflected in the number of people on the Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) beneficiary list who are receiving benefits because of a disability related to poor mental health. Mental health concerns (51%) dominate the SSDI recipient list here, but SSDI provides benefits for any kind of disability as long as you meet their criteria.
The eligibility criteria for SSDI benefits are rigid. The Social Security has a unique definition of disability and to be eligible you must have a disability that keeps you from engaging in substantial gainful activity for at least year. This means your disability has lasted or is projected to last a year and you are not or were not able to work during this one-year period. The Social Security Administration (SSA) has compiled a list of all impairments (medical conditions) that qualify for benefits in their Blue Book which is being continually updated. You either have to meet a condition in the Blue Book or have a condition that is comparable to a listing in the Blue Book in order to qualify for benefits. This is a federal program under the Social Security so you need to have earned enough work credits.
In New Hampshire about 47% of the applicants are approved for SSDI benefits at the initial application level which is much higher than the national average, around 30%.
Filing a Social Security Disability Insurance Claim in New Hampshire
About 12.7% of residents in New Hampshire suffer from a disability but not all of them can qualify for SSDI benefits. Apart from meeting non-medical criteria you can be approved for benefits in two ways:
- You have a medical condition that meets exactly with a listing in the Blue Book. Your claims process will be carried through smoothly and will most likely result favorably. Awarding SSDI benefits
- Your medical condition does not meet an exact listing in the Blue Book, but you have a disability that prevents you from working for at least a year. The SSA will pay particular attention to your work and medical history. This is one of the reasons why you should provide the SSA with accurate and information that details the last 15 years of your work records including the names of your employers, your designation, and your job description. This, along with your medical records, will help the SSA determine your Residual Functional Capacity (RFC) which is an assessment of your mental and physical capabilities. All this information will be used to determine whether you can return to your current work or any other job given your existing medical condition. If you are not able to work at all, the SSA will provide benefits through what is called a medical vocational allowance.
The entire process can take several months. Delays can happen if claimants fail to file complete or accurate information. Find out as much as you can about the SSDI claims process before you file your application to make sure you have provided all the necessary information. The professionals at Disability United can help you in this process.
Click here to know more about the SSDI application process or watch the informative video below.
Since SSDI is a federal program, the procedure for starting the SSDI claims application process is the same in every state. In the state of New Hampshire there are 6 Social Security offices. Applications can be made on online, by phone, or in person at a Social Security office near you.
The SSA will only receive your application form. They send it to a state agency for the determination. At the state agency, your case is assigned to a Social Security Disability examiner who is the sole decision maker. The disability examiner will request for your medical records from the treatment centers you have listed, review your medical/vocational history and call for a consultative examination if he feels it is necessary. Determinations generally take anywhere between 3 to 5 months. This may take longer if there are a number of backlogs in the system.
Since 46.6% of SSDI claims are awarded benefits at the initial application level in New Hampshire, the majority will receive a denial notice. Those who are denied benefits at the initial application stage should not give up. They have a much more favorable chance of success open to them through the appeals process. Usually the process of appeals consists of 4 stages, but currently the Reconsideration (first stage) has been temporarily suspended in New Hampshire. Claimants can request for an appeal directly at the hearing level.
- The Court Hearing: More than 50% of claims get approved at this level. Your case is presented before an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) who will look at all the evidence independent of the decision of the disability examiner. The judge will interview you and will give due consideration to the statements of your treatment physicians. This is the best opportunity you have to prove that you meet the SSDI criteria for a claims approval.
- The Appeals Council: Most claimants go up to the first two levels of appeal but if you believe that you have received an unfair determination both at the initial level and at the hearing level you may appeal to the Council who will review the decision of the ALJ. The Council can approve your claim, send your case to another ALJ for a fresh hearing, or deny your claim.
- Federal Review: Very few resort to this last stage in the appeals process. This is because it is expensive, can take a long time and at the end of it all, may not result in your favor.
It is very important that you file an appeal at every stage within 60 days of the date of the denial notice. The SSA will not entertain appeals that reach their office after 65 days. If you’re late, you’ll have to start the claims process all over again, losing valuable time. Most claimants at this stage are not able to work and financial pressures can be stressful on the claimant and their families. For this reason, you are advised to hire an advocate to increase the chances of your claim being approved at the earliest possible level. If you have not taken the help of an advocate for the filing of an application, it would be in your best interest to have one for the hearing stage. Since so much depends on how your case is represented before the ALJ, you need someone who is well-experienced and knowledgeable in SSDI claims matters. Advocates at Disability United can help you through the entire process. They can help you prepare a convincing case that clearly demonstrates you meet the SSDI criteria for benefits.
Talk to us now and find out how we can help you get SSDI benefits. If you’d like to know whether you are qualified to receive SSDI benefits, fill out our free disability evaluation form today.
Get started on your claims process. Fill the form on the right and let us help you get the benefits you deserve.
Helpful Resources for those with Disabilities in New Hampshire
If you’re not qualified for Social Security Disability Insurance or would like additional support, the New Hampshire State Administration offers several other programs to help people with different disabilities. Follow the links below to know more about these helpful programs:
- New Hampshire 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.
- Food Stamp Program: 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.