Social Security Disability Insurance in the State of Rhode Island
Rhode Island is among the top 5 states with the worst drug overdose problem. Substance abuse including excessive drinking are major health concerns here resulting in temporary and permanent disabilities related to mental health. This is reflected in the number of people on the Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) beneficiary list with disabilities related to mental disorders (47%). The second highest diagnostic on the SSDI list are those with disabilities that stem from diseases of the musculoskeletal system (23%).
Anyone who suffers from a serious disability in Rhode Island may qualify to receive SSDI benefits provided you meet their criteria. If you have paid into the Social Security system for a number of years you may have earned enough work credits to be qualify. Other eligibility criteria include:
- A disability that has lasted or is likely to last for at least one year.
- A disability that hinders your ability to work and therefore prevents you from engaging in substantial gainful activity.
- A disability that meets or is equivalent to a medical condition listed in the Social Security Administration’s (SSA’s) Blue Book.
Filing a Social Security Disability Insurance Claim in Rhode Island
Even though 12.7% of residents in Rhode Island suffer from a disability, but not all of them qualify to receive SSDI benefits. If your disability is an exact match to an impairment in the Blue Book, your claim will be easily approved. However, the majority of claimants will not have a medical condition that meets an exact listing but can still receive SSDI benefits through what is called a medical vocational allowance. This allowance is given to those who have a disability that has impacted mental and/or physical abilities and therefore claimants are not able to earn a substantial income for at least a year.
To determine whether you can receive a medical vocational allowance the SSA will examine your work history of the last 15 years along with your medical records to evaluate your Residual Functional Capacity (RFC). RFC is a measurement of your physical and mental capabilities. Using this information, the SSA will determine whether you can return to your work, whether your skills can be transferred to another job or whether you are not able to work at all. A medical vocational allowance is only given to those who are not able to work at all because of their medical condition.
The entire process can take 3 to 5 months. Delays can be caused due to a backlog in the Social Security systems. A common reason is because claimants have not filed complete or accurate information and time is spent in retrieving such information. You may want to consider getting professional guidance from Disability United, even at this initial stage in the claims process which may increase the chances of your claim being approved at the earliest possible stage. You should be familiar with how the claims process takes place and what SSA requires from you.
Click here to know more about the SSDI application process or watch the informative video below.
Starting the claims process begins by filing an application online, by phone, or in person at a Social Security office near you. In the state of Rhode Island there are 6 Social Security offices. The SSA receives your application but sends it to a state agency for determination. A disability examiner, who works for the state agency, is the sole decision maker in the initial application process. The examiner will request for your medical records from the treatment centers you have listed. He may consult with other medical and vocational experts or request you to undergo further diagnostics. If you have provided accurate and detailed information, this process can go fairly quickly.
Only 32.6% of SSDI claims are awarded benefits at the initial application level in Rhode Island. The majority receives a denial notice but the chances of a more favorable outcome get better through the appeals process. The process of appeals consists of 4 stages.
- Reconsideration: Your case remains with the state agency and is reviewed by another disability examiner. Since the same procedure is followed, not many receive an approval in this first stage unless you have new medical evidence that shows your condition has become worse. The approval rate here is 12.9% in Rhode Island.
- The Court Hearing: The hearing takes place outside the state agency in the Office of the Department of Adjudication and Review (ODAR), where an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) will decide your case. Judges at this stage are known to give considerable weightage to the testimony of your treatment physician. You are allowed to present any other evidence that demonstrates you meet the SSDI criteria for approval. Your chances of winning an appeal are the highest at this stage. The rate of approval is 43.2%.
- The Appeals Council: Most claimants go through the first and second stage of the appeals process but stop at the third level. If you decide to appeal at this level, a Council will review the decision of the ALJ. The Council will do one of three things: agree with the ALJ, reverse the decision of the ALJ or send your case to another ALJ for a fresh hearing.
- Federal Review: Rarely do claimants take their appeal to this level. It’s expensive and time-consuming and unless you have a solid case against the SSA, it is not likely to go in your favor. You’re better advised to start the appeals process all over again.
It’s important that you file an appeal at every stage within 60 days of the date of the denial notice. The appeal must reach the Social Security office within 65 days failing which you will need to start the entire claims process all over again. Not only would you lose valuable time but this may delay your disability onset date as well. Establishing an early disability onset date is important as this will affect the amount of back pay you receive. For this reason and many more, you are strongly advised to hire an advocate to represent you for the hearing. An experienced advocate will know why your claim was denied in the first place and will collect the medical and vocational evidence that is necessary to build your case. Having a Disability United advocate by your side will relieve you of the stress and anxiety that comes with a court hearing and you’ll be well-prepared to answer any questions the ALJ proposes.
If you fit the eligibility criteria, begin the claims process for receiving SSDI benefits. Fill out our free disability evaluation form now.
The SSDI claims process can take several months so do not wait any further to apply. Fill the form on the right and let us help you get the benefits you deserve.
Helpful Resources for those with Disabilities in Rhode Island
If you’re not qualified for Social Security Disability Insurance or would like additional support, the Rhode Island State Administration offers several other programs to help people with different disabilities. Follow the links below to know more about these helpful programs:
- Office 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 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.