Successfully Applying for Disability Benefits in Nebraska

Applying for Disability in Nebraska

How to apply and qualify for SSD, SSI in Nebraska (NE)

Note: If you have already filed a claim and been denied for disability, or are wondering what to do in the event of a Social Security denial, proceed to the reconsideration and hearing appeal sections below.

Level I: Disability Application - Approval rates on disability claims vary somewhat nationwide by state and by year. However, at the initial claim, or disability application, level in Nebraska, the chance of receiving a disability award is typically 1 in 3 for every application filing.

A disability application in Nebraska is likely to be denied between 60 and 70 percent of the time. This fact makes it a necessity for most claimants to pursue the appeals process in order to successfully meet the requirements for disability.

For claimants who are denied, the appeals process begins with a reconsideration, essentially a second look at the claim. This appeal uses the same process as the disability application and is indistinguishable in most respects. For those who have been denied at the application level, the second appeal, the Social Security hearing, produces the greatest opportunity for receiving a Social Security Disability award or SSI disability award.

There are additional levels of appeal, including the appeals council and federal court review; however, for the majority of claimants, the hearing level will determine the outcome of the claim.

How is a claim for disability in Nebraska decided?

Each disability application is decided on the basis of whether or not the claim satisfies the definition of disability used by the Social Security Administration. To satisfy that definition and thereby qualify to receive disability benefits, the claimant's medical evidence must show that they have one or more severe medical conditions that have either lasted, or will last (based on a disability examiner's interpretation of the medical records), for at least one full year.

In addition to this duration requirement, the condition must be severe enough to impose functional limitations (which can be mental, physical, or both mental and physical) to a degree that the claimant is unable to go back to their past work, or perform any other type of work for which their education, level of functional capacity, age, and work skills might otherwise qualify them.

Many claimants who apply for disability are found to have one or more severe conditions whose severity rules out their ability to engage in their past work. However, step 5 of the sequential evaluation process, at which it may be determined that a claimant has the necessary skills, education, and functional capacity to perform some type of other work, is where claims are likely to be denied by a disability examiner at either the disability application or reconsideration appeal levels.

Supplying accurate and detailed information

Because the majority of disability application interview to ensure that important details are not omitted.

Hearings and appeals

As previously stated, the majority of disability applications in Nebraska are denied. This is likely regardless of one's state of residence. Claimants who file appeals are, statistically speaking, likely to meet the requirements for disability (the non-medical criteria as well as the disability qualifications) and receive a Social Security Disability Award or SSI disability award; however, this generally occurs at the Social Security hearing level where the decision is rendered by an administrative law judge.

The advantages of a disability hearing include the fact that a prepared case may be presented and that the claimant and their disability lawyer or disability representative may interact with the judge, and also interact with whatever expert vocational or medical witnesses that the judge has decided to have appear -- which, in and of itself, is another reason not to appear at a hearing unrepresented.

The disadvantage of the hearing level is primarily with regard to how long it takes to receive a hearing date after the request has been submitted. Yet, this is another reason why appeals should be filed as timely as possible to avoid adding more processing time to the case.

  • Disability application denial rate: 63.6 percent.
  • Disability application approval rate: 36.4 percent.

    Level II: Request for Reconsideration - When an application for disability is denied, a claimant may file a new application or file an appeal.

    Filing a brand new application will generally be a mistake for two reasons. First, a new application is likely to be denied as well. Secondly, starting over with a new claim with a new date of filing may result in less Social Security back pay should the claim be approved.

    In nearly all cases, a claimant who has been denied should file a request for reconsideration. The request may be made by contacting the same Social Security office where the initial claim was filed. Once the request is made, the Social Security office will mail out the appropriate paperwork to be completed and returned.

    The deadline for submitting a reconsideration appeal is 60 days from the date of the denial of the disability application. However, to avoid needless processing time on a case, the appeal should be sent in soon as possible.

    Things to keep in mind when filing a reconsideration appeal

    1. When completing the disability report form for the appeal, be sure to indicate any recent medical treatment or medical condition changes. This will prompt the disability examiner to obtain recent medical records that may be of assistance to the case.

    2. After sending in the reconsideration appeal, a followup status call should be made to the Social Security office to verify that the appeal was received.

    3. A copy of the appeal paperwork should be kept in case the appeal is not received by SSA.

    The chances of a reconsideration being approved are fairly low. In most states, the approval rate at this appeal level is lower than the approval rate at the application level.

    Therefore, claimants may view this level as a stepping stone to the disability hearing level. However, at the hearing level the statistical odds of being approved are substantially in favor of the claimant.

  • Reconsideration appeal denial rate: 88.8 percent.
  • Reconsideration appeal approval rate: 11.2 percent.

    Level III: Request for Hearing before an Administrative Law Judge - The disability hearing is the second Social Security appeal available to claimants and may be requested only after a reconsideration appeal has been denied.

    Like all appeals, the hearing must be requested within 60 days of the date of the prior denial, but, ideally, should be requested immediately after receiving notification of the denial of the reconsideration appeal to avoid unnecessary case processing delays, as well as the possibility of a missed appeal deadline.

    Basic facts about disability hearings

  • Disability Hearing denial rate: 52.3 percent
  • Disability Hearing approval rate: 47.7 percent

    Note: The disability award rate listed above is for the hearing office in Omaha NE. The rate of disability hearing approvals in Nebraska is lower than the country at-large but somewhat better than SSA Region 7.

    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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