Will I Qualify For Disability Benefits in Michigan?

The Social Security Disability qualification process in Michigan is the same as any other state. You must first file a disability application with Social Security. You can file your disability application online, by phone, or in person at your local Social Security office.

Once you have filed your disability claim with Social Security, it is sent to one of four state disability agencies located in Kalamazoo, Lansing, Traverse City, and Detroit, Michigan. Collectively, they are known as the Michigan Disability Determination Services. Like other states, Michigan DDS disability examiners make the disability determinations for initial disability claims and reconsideration appeals.

The initial disability claim approval rate is 29.5 percent which is in line with the national average of 31.7. Unfortunately, this means about 70 percent of the disability applicants who file for disability are denied.

If your initial disability claim is denied you have to file a reconsideration appeal. The reconsideration appeal has the lowest approval rate of the disability process; however Michigan has one of the highest reconsideration appeal approval rates in the country.

The reconsideration appeal approval rate in Michigan is about 10 percent above the national average. The Michigan reconsideration appeal approval rate for is 22.0 percent compared to the national average of 11.0 percent. The combined approval rate for initial disability claims and reconsideration appeals (if all who were initially denied filed a reconsideration appeal) is over 50 percent.

While the reconsideration approval rate is very high in Michigan when compared to other states, it is important to keep in mind that there is still a 78 percent reconsideration denial rate.

If your disability reconsideration appeal is denied, you must file a disability hearing appeal. Your chances of qualifying for disability at this level of the Social Security Disability process are very good. The Administrative law judges have far more leeway when making their disability determinations than the disability examiners at the Michigan DDS, which has resulted in a much higher approval rate for disability hearing appeals in Michigan.

The average disability hearing approval rate in Michigan is 57.0 percent compared to a national average of 58.6 percent. Although the hearing approval rate in Michigan is a little less than the national average, the higher-than-average reconsideration approval rate causes more disability applicants to qualify for disability, overall, in Michigan than in most other states.

Note: The request for reconsideration appeal step is currently suspended in the state of Michigan as Michigan is one of 10 prototype states testing a system in which denied claims move immediately to the hearing level upon appeal. Reconsideration may be reinstated at some point and many consider this likely. In the meantime, a claimant who is denied on a disability application should request, and prepare, for a hearing before a federal administrative law judge.

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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