Social Security Disability Insurance in the State of Washington
The state of Washington ranks Number 9 on America’s Health Ranking. Recent years have shown a decrease in deaths due to cardiovascular disease and cancer but the state still ranks 6th for the highest number of strokes. Excessive drinking has increased by 2% which is an increasing health concern. The leading cause of death and disability, however, are injuries All of these conditions can lead to various types of mental and physical disorders resulting in serious disabilities. Top on the Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) beneficiary list are disabilities related to:
Mental disorders (39%)
Musculoskeletal system and connective tissue (27%)
Nervous system (10%)
About 12.9% of the people in Washington State are disabled. Only those who fit the Social Security’s definition of disability can apply for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits. Eligibility involves meeting medical and non-medical criteria such as:
- Your disability has lasted or is likely to last for at least one year and must prevent you from engaging in substantial gainful activity.
- Your disability must meet or be equivalent to a medical condition listed in the Social Security Administration’s (SSA’s) Blue Book.
- You have paid into the Social Security system and have earned enough work credits.
In the state of Washington about 36% of the applicants are approved for SSDI benefits at the initial application level.
Filing a Social Security Disability Insurance Claim in Washington
People who meet an exact listing in the Blue Book have a higher approval rating and their files move through the application process quickly. However, the majority of those applying for SSDI benefits do not meet an exact listing. Such people can receive SSDI benefits on the basis of being approved for a medical vocational allowance. The two most important pieces of information you must provide are the claimant’s medical treatment history and work history. The SSA will determine Residual Functional Capacity (RFC) to assess your physical and mental limitations. They will also take into consideration your age, educational qualifications and training to determine whether you are able to return to work or your skills can be transferred to any other job. Medical allowances are approved if you cannot return to your work or engage in any other work.
The initial application process can take 3 to 5 months or even more if there is a backlog in the Social Security system. However, one of the main reasons for delays is usually because claimants have failed to file complete information. This is why it is helpful for a claimant to be fully aware of the SSA’s requirements for the SSDI process.
Click here to know more about the SSDI application process or watch the informative video below.
Every state follows the same procedure for starting the SSDI claims application process. In the state of Washington there are 24 Social Security offices. You can apply online, by phone, or in person at a Social Security office near you. The SSA will send your file to a state agency where a disability examiner will be assigned to your case. The disability examiner will review the medical and vocational information you have provided and determine whether you qualify for SSDI benefits.
Only 36% of SSDI claims are awarded benefits at the initial application level in the state of Washington. The majority receive a denial notice. This may be because you have not demonstrated clearly that your impairment meets the SSA definition of disability. The process of appeals which consists of 4 stages will allow you to do that.
- Reconsideration: At this stage your case is transferred to another disability examiner. This stage is very similar to the initial application process. About 12 out of 100 claimants get approved at the reconsideration level. But the next stage in the appeals process gives you a much higher chance at winning your claim.
- The Court Hearing: Here, your claim is presented before an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) who acts independently of the disability examiner. The judge may allow for medical and vocational experts to speak on your behalf. Needless to say, this is the best opportunity you have to present your case in a way that shows you meet the SSDI requirements. In Washington, the approval rate at this stage is over 50%.
- 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: Not many choose to go to this last level of appeal but it is available and some have found success.
An appeal at every stage must be filed with the SSA within 60 days of the date of the denial notice. Because the court hearing is the best chance you have to win your claim, getting an advocate to represent you would be prudent. An advocate can increase your chances of success by 60%. They understand how the SSDI claims process, why your claim was denied in the first place and help you prepare a favorable case.
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. The SSDI claims process can take several months so do not wait any further to apply. Fill out our free disability evaluation form today!
Helpful Resources for those with Disabilities in Washington
If you’re not qualified for Social Security Disability Insurance or would like additional support, the Washington State Administration offers several other programs to help people with different disabilities. Follow the links below to know more about these helpful programs:
- Washington State Developmental Disabilities Administration: 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.