In Indiana, 25.5 percent of adults have some sort of disability. This is quite close to the national average of 25.6 percent. Not all those will be eligible to receive disability benefits as it depends whether the disability stops the victim from working altogether.
The Social Security Administration (SSA) is the federal agency responsible for assessing applicants with disabilities and it has some quite clear criteria to use when evaluating and making a decision about a claim. Many applications are turned down at the first application but applicants do have a right to appeal.
Social Security Benefits in Indiana: Key Facts
If you believe you are entitled to disability benefits you need to file your application at one of the social security offices in Indiana.
The cities where an SSA field office is located are:
- Fort Wayne
- Indianapolis northeast
- Indianapolis northwest
- Michigan City
- New Albany
Whether you intend to file a claim for a social security disability insurance (SSDI) benefit or a supplementary security income (SSI) benefit your entitlements will depend on the number of years of work you have completed and any accumulated work credits.
When an applicant submits a disability benefit claim the application is sent to the state office of the Disability Determination Services (DDS) which will assess the claim and determine if it is valid. The DDS has medical experts at hand who can determine how severe the disability is by matching it with the SSA’s Blue Book lists.
A lot of disabilities can be found in the Blue Book. However, if there is any element of doubt whether you qualify to receive disability benefits, the DDS may ask you to have more tests done or undertake a residual functional capacity assessment.
In the State of Indiana, the approval rate for disability benefits is a little lower than the national average while the wait time for a hearing after a claim has been denied is bit longer than the national average, with those in Indiana waiting 64 weeks for a hearing date, compared to the national average of 49 weeks. Once the hearing is over the applicant may have to wait a further two months before a decision is made.
Appealing a Denied Social Security Benefit Claim in Indiana
Many disability benefit claims are denied when the claimant makes a first application. This is often because the medical and case history information provided by the claimant is not detailed enough for an accurate decision to be made. If your initial claim is denied the next thing to do is to request a reconsideration of your claim from the SSA. If this reconsideration is denied too you will need to file a request for a hearing with an administrative law judge (ALJ).
Before the hearing date arrives you should have collected more detailed data about your disability so that your claim is much stronger than the first application. The factors below should be considered:
- how well your disability fits into the SSA’s Blue Book criteria;
- a much more detailed medical history maybe required;
- your work history needs to be more detailed;
- the date your disability began and became so severe you were unable to work.
You might consider asking your physician to perform a residual functional capacity (RFC) assessment of your disability status which confirms what you are able or unable to do both physically and mentally.
Once at the hearing the ALJ will carefully scrutinize all the information you have sent to the SSA up to now and any new information you are able to add at the hearing.
Medical experts may be in attendance at the hearing to ask you more questions so the right decision can be made. Many claims in Indiana are approved after this hearing has been completed, but if you are unsuccessful, there are still more steps to take in the appeal process.
Help Filing for Disability Benefits in Indiana
Getting the disability benefits you are entitled to requires going through the complex application process so a disability lawyer can help you and guide you through this process including being at you side if your claim is denied and you wish to lodge an appeal.
Your lawyer can help you arrange any further tests, ensure your medical records are up-to-date and arrange an RFC assessment if it would give you a better chance of overturning a claim that has been denied.