Unlike money growing on trees, Social Security Disability Insurance is a federally-funded program. For the most part, it’s also a state-administered program. A state Disability Determination Services officer reviews the claim and decides if the applicant is disabled and, if so, the amount of benefits the applicant receives. Heermans Social Security Disability Law Firm represents adults and children in the greater Memphis Metro Area and throughout the mid-south applying for these benefits.
Disability, or lack thereof, is usually the only material issue in these claims. According to the Code of Federal Regulations, applicants are disabled if they are unable “to do any substantial gainful activity by reason of any medically determinable physical or mental impairment which can be expected to result in death or which has lasted or can be expected to last for a continuous period of not less than 12 months.” There’s a lot of components to consider in that definition.
The amount of payments is far more straightforward. Generally, the DDS officer uses the applicant’s lifetime earnings to calculate the monthly benefit amount. The SSA generally refers to the average payment amount paid as “modest.” The average SSDI check is barely large enough to lift an individual above the 2018 poverty line. Since the margin is so narrow, the few hundred dollars difference between the highest and lowest monthly checks in the United States can mean a lot to many families for being able to pay their monthly expenses.
Disability determination is key. If applicants don’t win this point, it doesn’t matter how big, or how small, the check is. The experienced SSI lawyers near you at the Heermans Social Security Disability Law Firm are well-positioned to prove the full extent of your disability and obtain maximum benefits.
Let’s explore how things go in the top 5 paying states (primarily towards the east coast) for beneficiaries receiving Social Security Disability payments.
1. New Jersey
Covered earnings is the biggest disability amount factor. So, according to that metric, people in New Jersey are the highest earners in the country. But before you New Jerseyans get too excited, the high income thing cuts both ways. The government taxes SSDI benefits if an individual earns more than $25,000 a year or a couple earns more than $32,000 a year.
On the positive side, this state is often ideal for SSD beneficiaries who aren’t permanently disabled. Delaware has a number of programs designed to help partially disabled individuals get jobs that make them economically self-sufficient. Generally, SSDI awards are subject to periodic review. Recipients must submit to medical examinations and, if they have sufficiently recovered, their benefits could be reduced or cut off.
Four of the top five SSDI benefit states are in the northeast, where the cost of living is generally higher. The SIlver State is the exception. Especially outside metro Las Vegas, the cost of living is relatively low in Nevada, so your SSDI check might go a little further. Unfortunately, outside metro Las Vegas, there are few or no services for disabled individuals. The lack of services, along with a disability-unfriendly infrastructure, can make life difficult for these individuals.
Geographically speaking, Connecticut is the smallest state on the top five list. The state’s size could affect an SSDI appeal claim. An appeal hearing in Nevada might mean a trip that feels like going to the other end of the world to reach the SSD office. But an appeal hearing in Connecticut might only involve a trip around the block. The mere prospect of an appeal often helps attorneys like those at the Heermans SSA law firm obtain maximum benefits. The SSA doesn’t want to risk an appeal hearing. Appeal hearings are a lot like trials, which means lawyers have much more maneuvering room and do what they do best, argue in your favor to win your SSD award!
As mentioned, the difference between number one’s average monthly SSDI payment ($1,388) and number five’s average monthly SSDI payment ($1,308) is miniscule. But that extra $80 could enable a family to pay expenses for an entire month, as opposed to three-and-a-half weeks. Heermans understands how important every dollar is to you, which is why we fight hard for every dollar you have coming.
Now, here are the top 5 lowest paying states for SSDI Benefits. Let’s see if any of these have something in common.
Even though Vermont is in the northeast, at least geographically, it’s on the opposite end of the scale, in terms of monthly SSDI benefits. The state has little industry or technology, which might explain why the monthly allotment is lower. Remember that the gross monthly benefit isn’t necessarily the net monthly benefit, because of the aforementioned federal taxes. The $200 or so per month reduction could be the difference between paying a substantial amount of taxes and paying nothing. Generally Vermont favors the lower income coming from SSDI payments and you will not have to pay taxes on this income.
It’s not a coincidence that, for the most part, the least-populated states in the country are also the lowest SSDI disability payment states. Nebraska is a good example. Frequently, state DDS offices only have one or two doctors. These physicians review all disability cases, whether the applicant’s condition is physical, mental, or emotional. Generally, all these disabilities could be qualifying conditions. But many physicians aren’t familiar with disabilities like Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. So, their assessments might be inaccurate. Heermans SSI disability lawyers in Memphis often face similar problems, which is why we urge our clients to attend all scheduled medical appointments.
Continuing a familiar theme, the very small state of Maine has one of the lowest initial disability approval rates in the country. The denial rate is especially high for nervous disorders, mostly because the SSA’s guidance in this area is rather vague. As a result, DDS doctors may not be aware of all of the conditions of this disorder, and as mentioned, some DDS physicians in Maine may lack the expertise to effectively align the symptoms with the SSA’s guidelines for recognizing this condition. This type of confusion and ambiguity is why it is so important to have a strong SSD law firm in your corner when dealing with a SSD claim.
49. North Dakota
This state also has a low initial approval rate at the DDS level. Curiously, however, North Dakota has one of the highest successful appeal rates in the country. Could it be because the DDS doctor is clearly wrong in North Dakota cases? We do not know if this is true, but it does show once again that having a SSD lawyer on your side is very important. That error seems to make it easier to obtain a favorable decision at a higher level review.
50. South Dakota
Allow us to pose the following geography question: We know there is a significant difference between the proud states of North and South Dakota. We also know one state is the home of Mount Rushmore and one is the home of Paul Bunyan and Babe the Blue Ox. But, which one is which? Just kidding, we all know that the four Mt. Rushmore Presidents and Crazy Horse Memorial reside in the Black Hills of South Dakota. It also comes in with currently the lowest paying SSDI benefit. In 2020 the average monthly payment was $1168. This may not necessarily be a bad thing though if it is offset by low cost of living and housing and favorable state tax exemptions.
For more information about seeing if you could qualify for Social Security Disability in the Memphis Metro Area, Louisiana, Arkansas, and Mississippi, simply fill out the Heermans FREE Disability Evaluation Form or contact the disability lawyers near you at the Heermans Social Security Disability Law Firm 24/7 via phone and text at (901) 244-0057. More value added FREE information can be found in our online article library.
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