Is Social Security Disability the Same in MD, VA and D.C.?

Is Social Security Disability the Same in MD, VA and D.C.?

When you live in the Washington, D.C., area, you experience a lot of differences in how government works from Maryland to Virginia to the District of Columbia.

If you have health problems that stop you from working, it’s only natural for you to wonder how each state is different when it comes to Social Security Disability benefits.

Applying for benefits, or appealing a denial of benefits, is a long and complicated process without worrying about extra complications from the states.

But there’s good news: Social Security Disability is a federal government program that mostly follows the same procedures everywhere in the United States.

That said, there are small differences from state to state and region to region. We’ll look at three main points of difference:

  • State supplements to Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits
  • State agencies that screens your initial application
  • Benefits approval rates in different places

No matter where you live in the Washington area, the team at Mathis & Mathis can help you understand how the system applies to you.

We know the local Social Security offices, local doctors, local clinics and local social service agencies in each state and Washington. Some national disability firms don’t take time getting to know the local landscape – or getting to know you.

Working with professional disability advocates dedicated to our region means more attention and care goes into your case for disability benefits. Give us a call.

SSI and State Supplements

The amounts of most disability benefits don’t change by state.

But if you receive SSI benefits because your health keeps you from working and you have limited work history, income and resources, most states provide an additional supplement on top of the amount you receive from the federal government. Some do not.

The amounts vary by state and change over time. Sometimes states only offer the supplement to certain people.

Maryland, Virginia and Washington, for example, all have supplements specifically for people in assisted living centers or adult foster care.

States also have different ways of managing their supplements for SSI. Some run their own system. Some let the federal government do it.

In the states that run their own program, you have to file a supplemental state application when you apply for benefits.

Here’s how it breaks down in the Washington area:

  • Maryland has a state supplement and administers the supplement itself.
  • Virginia has a state supplement and administers the supplement itself.
  • Washington, D.C., has a state supplement and lets the federal Social Security Administration (SSA) administer it.

State Agencies that Screen Social Security Disability Applications

While Social Security Disability is a federal program, state governments help in the initial application process.

State governments run agencies – usually called Disability Determination Services (DDS) – that gather medical evidence and make the first decision on whether you officially qualify as having a disability.

The DDS offices may also decide your initial appeal after you’ve been denied benefits and you ask for a reconsideration.

Social Security provides the funding for these offices.

  • Virginia’s DDS office is run by the Virginia Department for Aging and Rehabilitative Services.
  • Maryland’s DDS office is run by the Maryland Division of Rehabilitation Services.
  • The District has a slightly different office called the Disability Determination Division, which is part of the city’s Department on Disability Services.

No matter where you live, if you need help navigating the system for your disability application or appeal, contact us at Mathis & Mathis. We will evaluate your case for free.

Administrative Law Judge Approval Rates

When you need to appeal a denial of your disability benefits beyond the first level of a reconsideration conducted by a state DDS office, you’ll next go to a hearing with an administrative law judge, or ALJ.

The ALJs are part of the federal Social Security Administration. But wait times to get a hearing with a judge differ from place to place. So do benefits approval rates by the judges.

For the Washington area, these were the hearing wait times and approval rates in March 2017:

  • Maryland – Wait time 579 days. Approval rate 45%.
  • Virginia – Wait time 638 days. Approval rate 38%.
  • Washington, D.C. – Wait time 651 days. Approval rate 34%.

You can see that no matter where you live, the waits are long and the odds are tough.

But Social Security’s own numbers have shown that you increase your chance of winning benefits when you have a professional representative helping on your claim.

If you have any questions about how Social Security Disability benefits work in Maryland, Virginia or Washington, talk to us about your case.