Social Security Disability Insurance in the State of West Virginia
Coming 47th on America’s State Health Ranking, West Virginia has a high prevalence of obesity and diabetes. Not surprisingly, disabilities related to the musculoskeletal system are the highest on the Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) recipient list. The second highest are those with disabilities that stem from a mental illness (30%).
Anyone with a disability may be able to qualify for benefits from federal programs like the SSDI. You need to meet certain conditions of eligibility such as:
- Your disability has lasted or is projected to last for at least one year.
- You disability prevents you from engaging in substantial gainful activity.
- Your disability must meet or be comparable 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 West Virginia 1 in 4 applicants are approved for SSDI benefits at the initial application level.
Filing a Social Security Disability Insurance Claim in West Virginia
About 20.3% of residents in West Virginia suffer from a disability but only 8.9% of the residents are on the SSDI beneficiary list.
You can easily be approved for SSDI benefits if your disability is an exact match to any one or more of the listings in the Blue Book. You may be able to receive expedited benefits if your condition is terminal or extremely severe. The SSA recognizes that some extremely severe cases need immediate access to funds and treatment.
However, the vast majority of people who apply for SSDI claims will not have a disability that meets an exact condition in the Blue Book but one that is comparable or equivalent to a listing. The SSA will grant such people benefits through a medical vocational allowance after reviewing their medical and vocational history. To gauge the functional and mental limitations of your disability, the SSA may assess your Residual Functional Capacity (RFC). You age, education, skillsets and other factors may be taken into consideration to evaluate whether you are able to return to your current job, whether your skills can be transferred to another job or whether your disability prevents you from working at all. Only those who cannot work at any job for at least one year will be given benefits through a medical vocational allowance.
The entire process can take 90 to 120 days on average but delays are common due to the backlog in the SSA systems or more commonly, because the applicants have failed to file detailed and accurate information. It is often prudent to take the help of an advocate early on in the application stage in order to increase your chances of getting benefits approved at the earliest possible stage.
Click here to know more about the SSDI application process or watch the informative video below.
Since the SSDI program is federal in nature, the application procedure will be the same in every state. In the state of West Virginia, there are 16 Social Security offices. You can apply online, by phone, or in person at a Social Security office near you.
The SSA sends your case to a state agency called the Disability Determinations Services (DDS) for determination. A Social Security Disability examiner who works for the DDS will be assigned to your case. The disability examiner will request for your medical records from the treatment centers you have provided, refer to medical and vocational experts, and may request for consultative examinations. The examiner will call you for an interview which may be via video or telephone if you are not able to come in person. In order to meet approval, the disability must be so serious that it restricts basic daily activities, hinders basic working activities and has lasted or likely to last at least one year.
Only 25.1% of SSDI claims are awarded benefits at the initial application level in West Virginia. Those who receive a denial notice will need to go through the appeals system in order to get benefits they are entitled to. The process of appeals consists of 4 stages.
- Reconsideration: There is no procedural difference between this stage and the initial application process. Another disability examiner will review your case based on the same qualifications criteria. The rate of approval at this stage in West Virginia is 9.1%.
- The Court Hearing: The chances of approval here are clearly in the claimant’s favor. The approval rate in West Virginia is more than 55%. Cases that are well-prepared, well-documented and well presented to the Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) are more likely to meet with success.
- The Appeals Council: The Council reviews the decision of the ALJ to determine whether it was a fair decision 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: 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.
Appeals must be made within 60 days of the date of the denial notice. Your appeal must be received by the SSA no longer than 65 days after the date of denial notice. Missing the deadline without good cause may force a claimant to start the entire process all over again. Not only would this result in losing valuable time but it may impact the amount of back pay you receive as well.
The hearing is the best opportunity you have to clearly demonstrate you meet SSDI qualifications criteria. It would be in your best interest to seek legal representation at this stage. Disability United and its advocates can act on your behalf. Our advocates know exactly why your claim was denied in the first place. They will obtain the most relevant evidence pertaining to your case, analyze and present it to the judge so that you get a more favorable onset date and maximum back pay. It can save you time by getting an approval at the earliest possible stage.
Fill out our free disability evaluation form today and find out if you can qualify for SSDI benefits.
As your advocates, Disability United can help you get the benefits you deserve. We would advise you not to wait to apply for benefits if you know your disability is likely to last for a year and you are not able to work. The faster you apply the faster you can start receiving benefits.
Fill the form on the right and get started on your SSDI application process.
Helpful Resources for those with Disabilities in West Virginia
If you’re not qualified for Social Security Disability Insurance or would like additional support, the West Virginia State Administration offers several other programs to help people with different disabilities. Follow the links below to know more about these helpful programs:
- West Virginia Developmental Disabilities Council: 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.