Social Security Disability Insurance in the State of South Carolina
South Carolina has been attracting new business with its business friendly taxation laws. However, the cost of housing in South Carolina is high and it can be particularly difficult for those with disabilities to find affordable housing.
Both the state and federal governments offer services to improve the quality of life for those who are disabled. The Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) program is one such program that could meet your financial needs. More than 200,000 disabled people in South Carolina are already receiving SSDI benefits. The two most common diagnostics being disabilities that stem from musculoskeletal system diseases (32%) and those of mental disorders (29%).
According to the Social Security Administration (SSA), an SSDI beneficiary is anyone who suffers from a severe disability that has prevented or will prevent a claimant from working for at least one year. SSDI eligibility will also depend on other factors such as:
- Whether you have earned enough work credits in the Social Security program.
- Whether you have recently worked in covered employment prior to the onset of disability.
Your disability must also meet one or more of the listings in the SSA’s Blue Book or is equivalent to a Blue Book medical listing’s severity that will prevent you from working.
In South Carolina about 14.3% of residents suffer from a disability. Out of those who apply for SSDI benefits, about 27% of the applicants are approved for SSDI benefits at the initial application level.
Filing a Social Security Disability Insurance Claim in South Carolina
The SSDI claims process begins with submitting the initial application.
If your disability meets an exact listing in the Blue Book your chances of SSDI benefits approval are extremely good. The Blue Book does not contain an exhaustive list of all the medical conditions that could qualify for SSDI benefits. The list is continually updated but even if you don’t find your medical condition listed in the Blue Book, you still have a very good chance to get approved for benefits if you are able to prove:
- Your medical records prove that your disability is equivalent to a condition in the Blue Book listing.
- You cannot work at any of your past jobs and your disability prevents you from acquiring new skills to work at any other job that would allow you to be engaged in substantial gainful activity.
Those who do not meet exact conditions in the Blue Book can receive a medical vocational allowance. To qualify, the SSA will examine the last 15 years of your work experience and evaluate your Residual Functional Capacity (RFC) to determine your physical limitations. You may also be requested to go through further diagnostics that would help the disability examiner who assesses your case to make a fair determination.
It may take 3 to 5 months for you to receive the SSA’s determination on your claim. How long it takes often depends on how soon a disability examiner is able to retrieve your medical records from the treatment sources you have listed. Most times the claims process is delayed because the claimant has failed to file complete information. The disability examiner then has to spend considerable time obtaining the necessary information. Claimants can facilitate the process by filing detailed and accurate information, along with the necessary documentation that is required for the SSA to make a fair determination. Claimants are advised to gain as much knowledge as they can about the SSDI claims process in order to improve their chances of winning a case.
Click here to know more about the SSDI application process, or watch the informative video below.
The procedure for starting the SSDI claims application process is the same in every state. Application of an SSDI claim can be made in three different ways:
- you can apply online,
- by phone, or
- in person at a Social Security office near you.
In the state of South Carolina there are 17 Social Security offices. Your case will be assigned to a disability examiner who is trained in assessing and determining SSDI claims. The disability examiner will request for your medical records from the treatment centers you have listed. You will then be called for an in-person interview. If you are not in a condition to attend the interview in-person, you may be able to take the interview via video or telephone. Determinations generally take anywhere between 3 to 5 months. It may take longer if there are a number of backlogs in the system.
Only about 27% of SSDI claims are awarded benefits at the initial application level in South Carolina, which is lower than the national average, around 30%.
If you are denied a claim (on average 73% in South Carolina are) at the initial application level, don’t worry. Your chances get better at the appeals level. There are 4 stages of appeal:
- Reconsideration: Only 11 in 100 cases are approved at the Reconsideration stage. Here, another disability examiner reviews your file to make sure that the previous disability examiner has not failed to consider important evidence that could prove you meet SSA’s requirements for the benefits. The approval rate is typically low at this stage but it is a necessary step to the next level.
- The Court Hearing: It is here that you have the best chance to win your case. Statistically, 58.7% of claims get approved at the hearing level. An Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) will be assigned to your case. Because it may take several months before a date for the hearing to be scheduled, it is important that you present the judge with recent medical records (not more than 90 days old). Having an advocate or a non-attorney who specializes in SSDI cases at this stage can greatly increase your chances of getting approved for SSDI benefits.
- The Appeals Council: The Council will determine whether the decision made by the ALJ was fairly determined by looking at all the evidence once again. The Council can reverse the decision of the ALJ or send your case to another ALJ.
- Federal Review: Here, your case is taken to the federal level. It is a long and tedious process and although some claimants have met with success, this last stage is stressful on the pocket, time and peace of mind and most are advised to file a new claim rather than take this route.
Appeals must be filed within 60 days of the date of the denial notice. If the SSA fails to receive your appeal within 65 days you will be forced to start the application process all over again. Having an advocate or a non-attorney specialized in SSDI matters can help facilitate the claims process and significantly enhance your chances of approval. Non-attorneys can be uniquely qualified to prepare your case as many of them were working as disability examiners. Having once been a disability examiner, they know exactly what your case needs to increase the chance of approval and establish an early onset date which could mean more benefits in backpay.
Fill out our free disability evaluation form today! The SSDI claims process can take several months so do not wait to apply. If you know right now that your disability could last a year or more, fill the form on the right and let us help you get the benefits you deserve.
Helpful Resources for those with Disabilities in South Carolina
If you’re not qualified for Social Security Disability Insurance or would like additional support, the South Carolina State administration offers several other programs to help people with different disabilities. Follow the links below to know more about these helpful programs:
- South Carolina Department of Developmental Disabilities and Special Needs: 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.