Qualifying for Disability in Colorado
It is fairly difficult to qualify for disability in Colorado and all other states simply because the SSD and SSI system often results in early denials at the application stage of the process. In most states, the denial rate typically exceeds 70 percent on a disability application and is somewhat higher on the first appeal, the reconsideration.
Fortunately, the national pattern is that usually the majority, even if it is sometimes a slim majority, of claims are approved when a claimant goes to a disability hearing at which they and their disability attorney are present before an administrative law judge.
So, it is easy to see that qualifying for disability is, to some extent, a function of filing the necessary appeals and not giving up on the process. A claimant will maximize their chances of winning disability in any state if they 1. file their necessary appeals, 2. make sure they have recent medical evidence at the time their case is being reviewed, and 3. present a solid argument for approval based on the rules and guidelines and case law of the SSD and SSI federal disability system. This, of course, is where a good representative, who can be an attorney or non-attorney, will provide substantial benefit to a case.
Technically speaking, you may qualify for disability in Colorado and in other states simply by meeting the medical and non-medical qualifications of the Social Security Disability or SSI disability program. For both programs, you must qualify under the SSA definition of disability which states that:
1. Your medical condition or impairment must be demonstrated by objective medical evidence;
2. It must last at least one year, and the one year period can be projected so you do not have to wait a year before filing.
3. The condition must be severe enough to prevent the ability to work and earn a substantial and gainful income during this one year minimum length time period.
Individuals who are disabled but whose condition does not last for at least one full year will be denied on the basis of duration. Individuals who are disabled but still manage to work and earn a substantial income will be denied for earnings.
Additionally, those who are filing for SSI disability will not qualify if their assets are above the allowable limit. Currently, that is $2000 in countable assets for an individual and $3000 in countable assets for a married couple.
Filing for disability in Colorado
When you file your initial disability claim by phone, in person, or online, it will be sent to a state disability agency (Disability Determinations Services) for a medical decision.
When your disability claim arrives at Disability Determination Services, it will be assigned to a disability examiner. The examiner requests your medical records from the medical treatment sources that you provided to Social Security when you applied for disability.
If the disability examiner determines that they do not have enough medical information, or enough current information (current being defined as not older than 90 days) to make their determination, they may schedule you for a consultative medical examination to evaluate the current status of your disabling condition or conditions.
Additionally, the disability examiner may send out a form SSA 3369 (a Work Report form) to more thoroughly evaluate your work history.
The ability to perform substantial work activity (self-supporting) is an integral part of every Social Security Disability determination. If the disability examiner determines that you are capable of performing any of your past work or any other kind of work, your disability claim will be denied.
About the Author: Tim Moore is a former Social Security Disability Examiner in North Carolina, has been interviewed by the NY Times and the LA Times on the disability system, and is an Accredited Disability Representative (ADR) in North Carolina. For assistance on a disability application or Appeal in NC, click here.
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