Social Security Disability: Special State Rules

The Social Security Administration (SSA) requires that each state processes their own Social Security Disability applications. The SSA also requires that all states adhere to the rules and regulations set forth by congress when they perform the processing of Social Security Disability claims. Because of this, the rules that pertain when applying for disability benefits are not (for the most part) different from state to state. The determining criteria is the same regardless of which state you apply in. With that being said, it is important to note that there are some differences between the Social Security Disability programs offered by some of the states.

Approval of Social Security Disability Claims

If you are applying for disability benefits, the rules that determine whether or not you are disabled do not vary from state to state. If you are found to be disabled in Wisconsin, you will also be found to be disabled in California. If you are not found to be disabled in New York, then moving to Florida is not going to change that fact. With that being said, however, there are some distinct differences as to how different states handle certain aspects of their Social Security Disability program and what benefits a person may qualify for.

Requiring Additional Information

While the rules for qualifying for Social Security Disability benefits may be the same from state to state, there are certain states that require information that other states do not require when administering the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program. For example, California wants to know where SSI recipients eat their meals and New York wants to know how those meals are prepared. These requirements are considered to be special rules. The states that have implemented special rules and exactly what those rules entail are as follows:

  • California:

    When receiving SSI benefits you must inform the SSI office if there is a change in where you eat your meals. For example, if you normally eat meals outside of the home and are no longer doing that, you need to report the change to your local Social Security office.

  • Hawaii, Michigan and Vermont:

    The States of Hawaii, Michigan and Vermont require that you provide the Social Security office with information regarding whether or not you are living in an assisted-living facility. If you do live in an assisted-living facility, you need to inform Social Security as to the level of care you receive. If that level of care changes (increases or decreases), the Social Security office must also be notified of this fact.

  • Massachusetts:

    If you live in the State of Massachusetts you must inform the Social Security office if you pay more than two-thirds of the living expenses for your household. You must also let Social Security know when your housing expenses go up or down.

  • New York:

    In New York you must inform the Social Security office where you eat your meals (at home or away from the home) and you must notify the Social Security office if this situation changes. In addition to your meal habits, you must also let Social Security know if you live with any other people, how your meals are prepared, and when your current living situation changes.

Supplemented SSI Payments

In addition to requiring added information, some states do offer additional assistance to Social Security Disability recipients who are receiving SSI benefits. The exact amount you receive from your state will depend on a number of factors including your total household income and assets and the cost of living for the area in which you live. Some recipients may only get an added benefit of $5 to $25 per month while others may receive $200 per month or more added to their SSI payments.

State Disability Assistance

In addition to the federally-funded SSI payments, some states also offer their own disability assistance programs. California, for example, offers an SDI program in addition to the disability program offered by the SSA. The criteria set forth for the individual state disability programs will vary from state to state, but in many cases qualifying for a state disability program can be easier than qualifying for disability benefits.

Navigating the Social Security Disability Rules

If you are worried about how different state laws and rules will affect your particular Social Security Disability claim, you may want to contact a Social Security Disability attorney. A disability lawyer will have a thorough understanding of your state's disability laws and will be able to inform you as to how those laws may affect your particular Social Security Disability case.