Social Security Disability Insurance in the State of Vermont
A small amount of Vermont’s resident population receives benefits from Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI). That’s a small number compared to other states, but for anyone who suffers from a disability that prevents them from working and earning a living, SSDI benefits can be a relief. Federal programs like the SSDI are designed to provide financial assistance during such times.
Mental health is a major health concern in Vermont and about 45% of those on the SSDI beneficiary list receive regular benefits because of a disability that stems from a mental health disorder. Other diagnostics include disabilities related to the musculoskeletal system (28%) or the circulatory and nervous systems (18%).
If you suffer from a serious disability in Vermont due to any reason you can qualify for SSDI benefits if you meet the SSDI eligibility criteria:
- You have a medical condition that is listed in the Social Security Administration’s (SSA’s) Blue Book or have a disability that is equivalent to a listing.
- You are unable to work in any substantial gainful activity for at 12 months.
- You have contributed to the Social Security system and have earned enough work credits.
In Vermont about 40% of the applicants are approved for SSDI benefits at the initial application level.
Filing a Social Security Disability Insurance Claim in Vermont
About 13.9% of residents in Vermont suffer from a disability but only about 6% of the resident population receives SSDI benefits. Benefits are approved in two ways:
- If your medical condition matches a Blue Book listing, you will be easily approved for SSDI benefits. If you suffer from a serious medical condition the SSA is obligated to provide benefits quickly under what is known as Compassionate Allowance. This is a way in which the SSA quickly identifies diseases and medical conditions that obviously meet the disability standards.
- The vast majority of people, however, will not meet an impairment that is listed in the Blue Book. This doesn’t mean that they cannot qualify for SSDI benefits. It just means that the SSA will have to review their medical and work history more thoroughly in order to for them to make a determination. The SSA will look at the last 15 years of your work history, your medical records and evaluate your Residual Functional Capacity (RFC). If you are not able to work at your current job or transfer your skills to any other job, you can be approved for SSDI benefits through what is called a medical vocational allowance.
The initial application process can take 3 to 4 months and you might experience a delay if there is a backlog in the SSA system. The most common reason for delays, however, is when applicants fail to provide the SSA with all the information they should, or if the information they provide is not accurate. Getting professional guidance from Disability United even at the initial application stage, is often helpful to make sure all the relevant details have been submitted. This will help show the SSA that you meet the SSDI criteria for receiving benefits. Knowing how the SSDI claims process can help you know what to expect at every level.
Click here to know more about the SSDI application process or watch the informative video below.
In the state of Vermont there are 3 Social Security offices. If there’s an office close to you, you can apply in-person. Applications can be made online or by phone, too. While the SSA receives your application, the determination is made by a state agency called the Disability Determination Services (DDS). A disability examiner from the DDS reviews your file, retrieves your medical records from the treatment centers you have provided and will be the sole person responsible for making a determination on your claim. He may consult with medical and vocational experts or require you to undergo further medical examinations.
A little over 40% of SSDI claims are awarded benefits at the initial application level in Vermont. The majority will receive a denial notice stating the ground on which they were denied. If you do not agree with the denial determination you can ask the SSA to review your case again through the process of appeals, which consists of 4 stages.
- Reconsideration: Whether your denial was based on medical or non-medical reasons, you will need to use Form SSA-561 to request a reconsideration of your claim. Since the procedure is the same as the initial application process, except another disability examiner reviews your case, the chances of getting an approval at this stage is not very high. The rate of approval in Vermont is 14.2%. Most people get a favorable response at the next stage.
- The Court Hearing: Here, your case will be presented before an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) who had no part in the original decision or the reconsideration process. A hearing is held usually within 75 miles of your home, but if you are unable to attend in-person a video conference hearing at a location closer to your home may be arranged. You are free to bring witnesses, medical/vocational experts or any other evidence that helps show the judge you meet the SSDI criteria for approval. In Vermont, the approval rate at the disability hearing level is 51.9%.
- The Appeals Council: The Council will review the decision of the ALJ. It will either decide the case itself or send it to another ALJ for further review. If you are denied at this level and still wish to appeal further you can go to the next stage.
- Federal Review: The last and final stage of appeal of the appeals process. If you disagree with the Appeal Council’s decision, you can file a lawsuit against the Social Security in a federal district court.
Appeals at any stage of the appeals process must reach the SSA office within 65 days of the date of the denial notice. If you choose to hire an advocate, the SSA will work with your advocate, or representative, who will act on your behalf on most SSDI matters. Your advocate will receive a copy of any decisions made by the SSA. The chances of a successful SSDI claims approval are much higher when you are legally represented. That is because advocates know how to prepare your case to prove you meet the qualifications criteria. Disability United can provide you with an advocate in your area who specializes in SSDI matters. Advocates are available to you free of cost.
Find out if you qualify for SSDI benefits today by filling out disability evaluation form.
We advise you not to wait to apply if you are already suffering from a disability that is projected to last a year or longer and prevents you from working during that time. The SSDI process can take a quite a long while to process. The earlier you start, the sooner you can start receiving benefits. Fill the form on the right and let us help you get the benefits you deserve.
Helpful Resources for those with Disabilities in Vermont
If you’re not qualified for Social Security Disability Insurance or would like additional support, the Vermont State Administration offers several other programs to help people with different disabilities. Follow the links below to know more about these helpful programs:
- Vermont – Department of Disabilities, Aging and Independent Living: This website provides a wide range of resources for people with developmental disabilities looking for assistance in job training, residential services, and more.
- Vermont Seasonal Fuel 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.