Will I Qualify For Disability Benefits in Maryland?

If you live in Maryland, your chance of qualifying for disability is better than average if you use the Social Security appeal process. In Maryland, only about 28 percent of initial disability claims are approved, making it necessary for most claimants to file appeals.

First things first, if you have been unable to work, or expect to be unable to work for at least twelve months due to a mental condition or physical impairment, you should consider filing for disability.

Filing for disability

You can file for disability at your local Social Security office by phone, or in person, or you can complete an online Social Security Disability application online. Keep in mind if you chose to file your disability claim online you will only be able to file a Social Security Disability application as there currently is no SSI disability application online.

If you think you might meet the income and resource limits of the SSI need-based disability program you, you should avoid the online process and should contact your local office for a disability interview appointment. If you are only interested in filing for Social Security Disability, make sure that you complete the online disability report form and a medical release form as well. That way your disability application will be complete.

Once you have filed your disability application and completed all necessary forms, you case is ready to be sent to Disability Determination Services located in Timonium, MD; where it is assigned to a disability examiner for development. They gather medical records, work history information, and schedule additional consultative medical examinations if needed, in order to evaluate the severity of your disabling conditions. When they have enough information to make their disability determination, they will either deny or approve your disability claim.

What happens if the claim is approved or denied?

If your initial disability claim is approved, your disability claim is sent back to your local Social Security office for adjudication. If SSI is involved, you will have to have an end-line interview to determine if you still meet the SSI income and resource limits. Social Security will send a formal award notice to you once your claim has been adjudicated.

If your initial disability claim is denied, you have a couple of choices. You can give up on disability or you can file an appeal. If you are still disabled, you should appeal the denial with a reconsideration appeal.

In Maryland, as in all other states, the approval rate for reconsideration appeals is low. The reason for this is that reconsiderations are sent back to DDS for a review with another disability examiner. If the first disability examiner made the correct decision according to Social Security Disability guidelines, the reconsideration appeal is also denied.

Reconsideration appeal approvals are usually the result of additional medical evidence becoming available and supporting a finding of disabled...or an error being found on the part of the initial disability examiner.

For most disability applicants, a reconsideration appeal is just a necessary step toward a disability hearing. The average approval rate for reconsideration appeals in Maryland is 15.3 percent.

What if the reconsideration appeal is also turned down?

If your reconsideration appeal is denied, you can continue your disability claim by filing a request for a disability hearing before an administrative law judge. This hearing is your best chance of qualifying for Social Security Disability benefits. Administrative law judges have more flexibility in their disability decisions than disability examiners. Disability applicants in Maryland and all other states are more likely to qualify for disability at this level than any other level of the Social Security Disability process.

The average approval rate for disability hearings in Maryland is 67.7 percent.

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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