Social Security Disability Insurance in the State of New Mexico
New Mexico ranks 33rd in America’s State Health Rankings. A major health concern is substance abuse which is reported to be one of the highest in the nation which shows with its high reports of mental health issues, often leading to short and long term disability. Mental disorders is the top diagnostic on the New Mexico Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) beneficiary list (36%). A close second are those with disabilities that stem from diseases related to the musculoskeletal system (30%).
Those who suffer from a severe disability may not be able to work at their regular job leading to financial constraints making it even harder to cope with a disability. Regular benefits can be made available to you through federal programs like Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) provided you meet certain conditions of eligibility such as:
- Your disability should have lasted one year or is projected to last one year during which time you are not able to work or engage in substantial gainful activity.
- Either your disability meets a medical condition listed in the Social Security Administration’s (SSA’s) Blue Book or you have a disability that is equivalent to a listing.
- You have earned enough work credits under the Social Security System.
About one-third of those who have applied for SSDI benefits in New Mexico get approved for benefits at the initial application level.
Filing a Social Security Disability Insurance Claim in New Mexico
Although 15.2% of the residents in New Mexico suffer from a disability, only 5.4% receive SSDI benefits. This is because Social Security’s more rigid definition of “disability” provides coverage to only those whose disabilities are severe. You can easily get approved if your disability meets one or more of the impairments listed in the Blue Book. The Social Security recognizes cases that are terminal and can provide them with immediate access to benefits.
Most people do not meet an exact listing but can still qualify for benefits through a medical vocational allowance. The SSA will determine whether you can qualify for such benefits by reviewing your medical and vocational history. They will look at the last 15 years of your work records to ascertain your skillsets. They will also evaluate your Residual Functional Capacity (RFC) which is an assessment of your physical and mental capabilities despite your disability. All this information will help the SSA determine whether you are able to return to your job or work at any other job. You can qualify to receive a medical vocational allowance only when your skill sets cannot be transferred to any other job. Age and educational qualifications are also considered in the determination process.
The entire process can 3 to 4 months, even longer. One of the most common causes for delay is not because of backlogs in the Social Security system, but because the claimant has not filed complete or accurate information. It is helpful to get professional guidance from Disability United even at this early stage to facilitate a faster claims process and increase your chances for approval at the earliest possible stage.
Click here to know more about the SSDI application process or watch the informative video below.
Applications for SSDI benefits can be made online, by phone, or in person at a Social Security office near you. In the state of New Mexico there are 13 Social Security offices. An SSA officer will review your application to see whether you have provided all the information they need. Your case will then be sent to a state agency where it will be assigned to a Social Security disability examiner who has been thoroughly trained to make SSDI claims determinations. The disability examiner will request for your medical records from the treatment centers you have listed. Remember, if the contact information of physicians or treatment centers is incomplete or inaccurate the disability examiner will take that much longer to access your records. The examiner will call you for an interview which may be via video or telephone if you are not able to come in person.
On average, only 30.1% of SSDI claims are awarded benefits at the initial application level in New Mexico. For those who are denied benefits, the chances of winning your claim actually increase if you go through the appeals process. The process of appeals consists of 4 stages.
- Reconsideration: Only 1 in 10 cases in New Mexico will get approved for benefits at this stage. The percentage is small because this first stage of the appeals process is very similar to the initial application process, except another disability examiner reviews your case. Those whose conditions have downgraded and can provide evidence to that effect are more likely to receive an approval at this stage.
- The Court Hearing: Make the most of this opportunity because the approval rate at this level is 66.2% in New Mexico. You are able to present your case to an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) who acts independently from the disability examiner. You can bring in the testimonies of your treatment physicians and any other evidence you believe would work to demonstrate you meet the SSDI criteria for approval.
- The Appeals Council: Virginia is where all appeals across the country are reviewed. If the Council disagrees with the hearing decision, they will either reverse the decision or send your case to another ALJ.
- Federal Review: This is the last resort you have but you are well-advised not to pursue the case to this fourth level. It is a lengthy process that seldom ends in your favor and for those who are disabled and unable to work it can be financially devastating. It is better to start the SSDI claims process all over again.
Appeals must be filed with the SSA within 60 days of the date of the denial notice. Having an advocate represent your case at the hearing level can significantly increase your chances of getting your claim approved. Advocates at Disability United are very experienced in the SSDI claims process. They know exactly how your case should be prepared in order to meet with the rigorous SSDI claims criteria. The appeals process can be bewildering to claimants but an advocate can walk you through the entire process and prepare you to answer questions the ALJ is likely to ask.
Is your disability likely to last a year a year or more? Fill out our free disability evaluation form today and find out whether you can qualify for SSDI benefits.
Do not wait any further to apply. The SSDI claims process can be a long process. The earlier you start the sooner you will start receiving regular benefits. Fill the form on the right and let us help you get the benefits you deserve.
Helpful Resources for those with Disabilities in New Mexico
If you’re not qualified for Social Security Disability Insurance or would like additional support, the New Mexico State Administration offers several other programs to help people with different disabilities. Follow the links below to know more about these helpful programs:
- General Assistance for Disabled and Unrelated Children: This program provides cash assistance for those who are disabled but not eligible for cash assistance under any other state or federal program.
- 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.