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Applying for Disability in New Hampshire
How to apply and qualify for SSD, SSI in New Hampshire (NH)
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 - The disability process begins with an initial claim, or disability application. The application may be filed in either the Social Security Disability or SSI disability program.
Which program applies (and in many cases, both programs will apply) will depend on certain factors, but primarily the individual's insured status (insured status is gained through work activity). However, the determination of specific program eligibility will be made by the Social Security office where the claim is actually taken.
Claims typically begin at a local Social Security office. Claimants have the option of filing online or by calling the SSA toll free line to have a teleclaim taken. In most instances, though, it will be more practical and efficient to simply contact a local office. Doing so will afford a claimant the opportunity to ask questions of the person who is doing the intake for their claim (a CR or claims representative).
It may also avoid shortfalls. For example, the online disability application process does not allow for the filing of an SSI claim. This affects not only applicants for SSI but individuals who will have a concurrent claim for both Social Security Disability and SSI disability benefits.
Claims taken at local SSA field offices will involve a disability application interview. The interview may be conducted in person or over the phone for individuals who have difficulty with transportation for any reason. This may also be requested for claimants who simply prefer a phone interview.
The disability application interview is a crucial step in the process because the information that will be used to decide the claim will be obtained at that point. For the most part, this means the history of medical treatment and the claimant's relevant work history.
Often, the assumption is made that the Social Security Administration, because it is a federal agency, can obtain this information independently. However, this is not the case. Disability claims examiners (the examiner receives the claim after it has been taken at a Social Security office by a claims representative) rely entirely on the information provided by the claimant at the time of application.
Leaving out any constituent part of the medical treatment history or work history can have a damaging impact on the claim.
Claimants who file for disability can maximize their chances of qualifying for benefits by supplying the following: regarding medical treatment, a list of all doctors, hospitals and clinics should be supplied along with all diagnosed conditions. Simply providing the name of a facility may not be sufficient since one of the first duties of the disability examiner will be to send out medical record request letters.
Ideally, a full address should be supplied, along with dates of treatment for each medical facility (this will help ensure that the source of treatment will send all relevant records), as well as the names of treating physicians, who may be called upon later to provide a supporting statement, i.e. a medical source statement.
Regarding the work history, a claimant should ideally provide a full listing of jobs performed within the last 15 years, complete with job titles and, more importantly, a detailed description of the duties performed on each job.
Why is this information so important? The information contained in medical records will allow the disability examiner to complete a residual functional capacity assessment. The RFC assessment is essentially a rating of what the claimant can still do (physically and/or mentally) despite having their medical condition, or conditions. Obviously, the more information that is available, the more accurate the RFC rating may be.
With regard to the work history, this information will allow the disability examiner to determine the demands of the claimant's prior jobs and, using the RFC assessment, further determine if the claimant has the ability to return to their past work, or, perhaps, switch to some other type of work.
When the medical evidence finds that the claimant has a condition that satisfies a listing in the Social Security Disability list of impairments, or has functional limitations that rule out the ability to engage in work activity for at least one full year or longer, their claim then satisfies the SSA definition of disability and meets the qualifications for benefits.
In a typical year, the majority of claims for disability will be denied at the application level, meaning that claimants will need to follow the appeal process.
Statistically, most claimants who pursue their claim to the level of a hearing before an administrative law judge will be approved for disability.
Level II: Request for Reconsideration - There are several levels of appeal in the Social Security Disability and SSI disability system. The first appeal is the request for reconsideration which is available to claimants who have been denied on a disability application.
A reconsideration is processed in a manner identical to a disability application and the qualifications for disability remain the same. At the state disability agency (known as DDS, or disability determination services in most states), an examiner will once again review the medical evidence to determine if they satisfy the requirements of a a listing in the Social Security list of impairments.
If not, the examiner will assess the evidence to determine what functional limitations the claimant has so that these limitations can be used to assess their ability to engage in work activity. Individuals who are deemed in capable of working at a substantial and gainful activity level may be found disabled.
To request a reconsideration, a claimant should contact the Social Security office where they originally filed. After receiving the appeal paperwork, which includes a disability report form and a medical release, this should be completed and returned as quickly as possible. Any additional medical treatment that the claimant has received should be indicated.
The appeal must be requested within the allowable timeframe, which, for any appeal, is 60 days (plus an additional 5 days for mailing time) from the date of the denial.
Reconsiderations are generally denied and the national rate of denial at this level usually exceeds 80 percent. However, claimants who are denied at this level may file a second appeal requesting a disability hearing where the rate of approval is much higher and where the odds generally favor most claimants provided their case is well-supported by the evidence and well-presented to the judge.
Special Note: The Reconsideration appeal is currently not conducted in the state of New Hampshire. Presently, individuals who have been denied on a disability application may immediately file a request for a hearing.
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
Note: The disability award rate listed above is for the Manchester NH hearing office, or ODAR (office of disability adjudication and review). New Hampshire approves slightly more cases at the hearing level than the national average.
Social Security Disability and SSI Resource Center
The Most Basic questions about Getting Disability Benefits
Social Security Disability SSI and whether or not you can work
Common Mistakes to avoid after being denied for Disability
Social Security Disability SSI Questions and Answers
More Social Security Disability SSI Questions and Answers
Common Questions about Social Security Disability and SSI
Winning Social Security Disability or SSI Benefits
The SSI Disability Benefits Program
Social Security Disability SSI and Doctors - Yours and Theirs
Social Security Disability and SSI Claim Reviews
Social Security Disability SSI System and Benefits for Children
Denials, Appeals, and Getting a Disability Lawyer or Representative
What you should know about Social Security Disability and SSI Denials
Questions about Disability Lawyers and Hiring a Disability Attorney
Various Types of Benefits including SSI, Mental, and Child benefits
Social Security and SSI based on Mental Disability
Social Security Disability or SSI Benefits for Children
Disability Benefits through Social Security
Filing for Social Security Disability or SSI Benefits
Social Security Disability SSI: Medical Evidence and Records
Filing your claim for disability benefits
Eligibility for receiving disability benefits
Resources on this site
Social Security Disability, SSI Terms and Definitions
Previously answered questions regarding SSD and SSI
About the Author of SSDRC, Tim Moore
The SSDRC Disability Blog
For Individuals living in North Carolina
Disability in North Carolina
North Carolina Disability Lawyer
Getting disability in North Carolina
Individual Questions and Answers