Social Security Disability Insurance in the State of Utah
Most people that live in Utah are in good health. While the state ranks 7th on America’s State Health Rankings, a major health concern is the percentage of people who overdose on prescription drugs where Utah ranks one of the highest in the nation. The majority of people who have an addiction problem are those who suffer from a mental illness. Mental illness is also the highest diagnostics on the Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) beneficiary list (39%). Disabilities resulting from diseases related to the musculoskeletal system constitutes the second largest (25%).
A person may become disabled due to many reasons and if earning a living is not possible, it can be financially very stressful on the family. SSDI benefits are available to those who suffer from any kind of severe disability that prevents you from earning and working at a substantial gainful activity for at least one year. Conditions of eligibility include meeting medical and non-medical criteria such as:
- A disability that meets a medical condition listed in the Social Security Administration’s (SSA’s) Blue Book.
- If you don’t meet an exact listing in the Blue Book, the medical condition should be equivalent or comparable to a Blue Book listing.
- Earning enough work credits in the Social Security system.
In Utah about 37% of the applicants are approved for SSDI benefits at the initial application level.
Filing a Social Security Disability Insurance Claim in Utah
About 9.5% of residents in Utah suffer from a disability. Since the SSA definition of disability is very strict, not all who have a disability can qualify for SSDI benefits. There are two ways in which a person with a disability can be approved for benefits:
- The first way you can be approved for SSDI benefits is if your disability is an exact match to one or more of the listings in the Blue Book.
- It is difficult to match an exact listing as the specifications are detailed and hard to meet and also because not all medical conditions leading to a disability are found in the Blue Book. In fact, the vast majority of claimants will not have a condition that meets a listing. Such people may be approved for benefits through a medical vocational allowance. The SSA will review the claimant’s medical records in order to assess functional limitations, both physical and mental, to determine the claimant’s Residual Functional Capacity (RFC). The RFC will be compared to a claimant’s work history (the last 15 years) to see whether the claimant is capable of returning to any of his past jobs. When you are not able to work at any job for at least one year because of your disability, the SSA will approve SSDI benefits through a medical vocational allowance.
To facilitate the application process, it is often helpful to know how the SSDI claims process works and their requirements. You may also want to consider taking the help of Disability United to make sure you are filing accurate and detailed information.
Click here to know more about the SSDI application process or watch the informative video below.
There are 6 Social Security offices in the state of Utah, two of them in Salt Lake City. You can apply online, by phone, or in person at a Social Security office near you. These SSA offices act as a receiving center. Your file will be transferred to a state agency usually called the Disability Determinations Service (DDS). A state agent called the disability examiner will review your case. He will request for your medical records from the treatment centers you have listed, consult with medical and vocational experts if he needs to, or call you for an interview. The disability examiner is trained to be the sole decision-maker in SSDI claims matters. The initial application process can take between 3 to 4 months, or longer if there is a back log in the SSA systems or if the examiner feels the need to send a claimant for a consultative medical exam.
Only 37.1% of SSDI claims are awarded benefits at the initial application level in Utah. Those who are denied benefits at the initial application stage will find their chances greatly improve if they follow through with at least the first two stages in the appeals process. The process of appeals consists of 4 stages.
- Reconsideration: This stage is very similar to the initial application stage. In fact, the first stage of appeals is conducted within the DDS. As before, the decision will be made by a disability examiner and the criteria for approval remains the same. Therefore the rate of approval is slim, only 10.1% get approved in Utah at this stage.
- The Court Hearing: More than 60% of claimants will get their claim approved at this level. Seeing that this is the best chance you have, you should make the most of it. Your case is presented before an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ). You can present any evidence that will convince the judge that you meet the SSDI criteria for approval. A statement from your treating physician(s) may effectively turn the case in your favor since ALJ’s are known to give due weightage to such testimonies.
- The Appeals Council: Headquartered in Church Falls, Virginia, the Council will review the decision of the hearing. They may approve benefits if they find pertinent evidence was overlooked or they may send your case to another ALJ for a re-hearing.
- Federal Review: The last and final stage of appeal is the federal court. Not many choose to go to this last stage because it is expensive and slow and the verdict is less likely to be in favor of the claimant.
Ideally, appeals should be filed immediately after getting a denial notice. This is to save precious time as the appeal process can extend to several months. In any case, appeals should be filed with the SSA within 60 days of the date of the denial notice. Needless to say, having an advocate to represent you during the appeals process will increase the chances of your claim getting approved. Advocates with Disability United have the experience and the knowledge to put together a case that both convicts and compels a ruling in your favor. They know the type of medical and vocational evidence the judge is looking for to demonstrate you meet the SSDI criteria for approval.
If you know your disability could last for a year or more, fill out our free disability evaluation form today and find out whether you can qualify for SSDI benefits.
The SSDI claims process can take several months which is why we advise you not to wait any longer. Fill the form on the right and let us help you get the benefits you deserve.
Helpful Resources for those with Disabilities in Utah
If you’re not qualified for Social Security Disability Insurance or would like additional support, the Utah State Administration offers several other programs to help people with different disabilities. Follow the links below to know more about these helpful programs:
- Services for People with Disabilities: This website provides a wide range of resources for people with disabilities looking for services such as day services, residential habilitation supports 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 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.