Of the nearly 2 million residents living in Iowa, approximately 4 percent receive monthly disability benefits from the Social Security Administration. Thousands more will apply for Social Security Disability benefits in the State of Iowa this year alone. Unfortunately, the majority of Iowa Social Security Disability applicants are denied during the initial stage of the application process. In fact, nearly 70 percent of the applicants who apply for disability benefits from the Social Security Administration are denied at the initial application stage. These applicants must then go on to appeal the SSA's decision in order to obtain the disability benefits they may actually be entitled to.
The average Iowa Social Security Disability benefit amount is $1,013.80 per month. While these disability payments can alleviate the financial stress faced by disabled workers, it takes most applicants more than a year to obtain their first payment from the Social Security Administration. Because the majority of Iowa Social Security Disability applicants are denied their initial disability claim, they must undergo a lengthy and complicated disability appeal process. The first stage of appeals is called a Request for Reconsideration. More than 80 percent of the Iowa Social Security Disability applicants who file this request will also be denied, requiring them to move on to the second stage of appeals, which is a disability hearing.
The good news is that nearly two-thirds of Iowa Social Security Disability applicants are awarded benefits as a result of a disability hearing. The bad news is that most Iowa Social Security Disability applicants must wait nearly a year and a half for a disability hearing to be scheduled. Once these individuals have had their day in court, they must wait another 45 to 90 days to receive notice regarding whether or not the Administrative Law Judge presiding over their case decided in their favor.
Why does it take so long for a disability hearing to be scheduled? The reason for the extensive wait times is the significant backlog of disability cases waiting to be heard. The agency in charge of scheduling disability hearings is the Office of Disabilities Adjudication and Review, also known as ODAR. The area of Iowa that you reside in determines which ODAR office handles your disability case and how long you will have to wait to be scheduled for a disability hearing before an ALJ. The ODAR offices that handle disability hearings for Iowa Social Security Disability applicants are as follows:
- Omaha, Nebraska
- West Des Moines, Iowa
The ODAR office located in Omaha in the State of Nebraska is responsible for scheduling the disability hearings for the Iowa Social Security field offices in Council Bluffs, Sioux City, Creston and Carroll. It takes this office an average of 630 days to schedule a disability hearing.
The ODAR office in West Des Moines is responsible for scheduling the disability hearings for the Social Security field offices in Ames, Burlington, Carroll, Cedar Rapids, Clinton, Creston, Decorah, Des Moines, Dubuque, Fort Dodge, Iowa City, Marshalltown, Mason City, Ottumwa and Waterloo. It takes this office an average of 528 days to schedule a disability hearing.
Applying For Disability Benefits in Iowa
If you suffer from a physical or mental disability in Iowa you may be able to receive a disability benefit from the Social Security Administration (SSA), a federally funded agency.
When applying for a disability benefit in Iowa, there are three ways you can file an application. These are all directed initially to the SSA as follows:
- by making an in-person visit to a state SSA office;
- through an online application;
- by making an application over the phone.
The SSA will make the final determination of all disability benefit applications, but will use the services of the Iowa Disability Determination Services (DDS) to review the medical evidence made available to support a disability benefit application.
Disability benefits may be awarded through two pathways dependent on work history, income and assets.
If you have worked for long enough and paid sufficient social security insurance in your payroll taxes, you may have accumulated sufficient work credits to obtain a benefit through the social security disability insurance (SSDI) scheme.
If you have reduced income or assets and insufficient work credits acquired through employment, you may be able to obtain a benefit through the supplemental security income (SSI) scheme.
If you obtain a benefit through SSI, your set monthly payment will be supplemented by an additional payment made by the state called State Supplementary Assistance.
For those Iowans who have the most severe disabilities as determined by the SSA, the agency has developed a “fast track” pathway so that waiting times to make a determination on whether a benefit is grated are reduced.
Hiring an Iowa Social Security Disability Attorney
If an Iowa Social Security Disability applicant is not approved for benefits during the initial stage of the application process, they must spend another three to four months completing the first stage of Social Security Disability appeals. The applicant has already spent eight months to a year trying to obtain disability benefits from the Social Security Administration once they find out whether their appeal has been denied or not. They must then wait another year and a half to two years to obtain their day in court before an Administrative Law Judge. While nearly two-thirds of Iowa Social Security Disability applicants will be awarded benefits at the hearing stage of the disability appeal process, no one wants to wait more than two years before receiving their first disability payment.
In order to avoid the lengthy and complicated appeal process, you should do everything you can to increase your chances of being awarded benefits at the initial stage of the application process. Retaining the services of a qualified Iowa Social Security Disability attorney can help. When you hire an Iowa Social Security Disability attorney, your lawyer will work with you to obtain the medical evidence necessary to support your disability claim and will ensure that your claim is prepared and submitted properly to the Social Security Administration.
If your initial claim for disability benefits is denied, your Iowa Social Security Disability lawyer will be able to provide you with proper legal representation during the disability appeal process. The majority of applicants who pursue the disability appeal process must obtain a hearing before an ALJ. Your Iowa Social Security Disability attorney will prepare you for this hearing, ensuring that you know what to expect and how to present yourself before the judge.
Click here if you would like to learn more about hiring an Iowa Social Security Disability attorney or to receive a free evaluation of your Social Security Disability case.