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In Connecticut, more than 85,000 people receive disability benefits from the Social Security Administration (SSA). That’s almost 100,000 reasons why you’re not alone no matter how overwhelming the application process may feel.
This guide will help you apply for disability in Connecticut by explaining what you need to know about eligibility, the application process, and the size of your potential benefit checks.
Like most states, Connecticut doesn’t have a state disability program. Instead, Connecticut residents can apply for disability plans offered by the federal government or a private insurance company. Connecticut residents may qualify for the following disability programs:
The rest of this guide will focus on SSDI and SSI since most Connecticut residents with disabilities will qualify for those two programs. If you receive VA benefits, you can also qualify for Social Security Disability. So can people who have a private program. In fact, many private insurers require you to apply for SSDI in addition to a long-term private plan.
Related article: A Breakdown of the Types of Disability Benefits
Before you can qualify for disability, you’ll have to prove that you meet specific medical and technical criteria. SSDI and SSI share medical requirements, but they have their own technical requirements.
To medically qualify for benefits, you must prove that you have a disability or medical condition that makes it impossible for you to work. Even then, your doctor will need to confirm that your condition is expected to last for at least one more year — or for the rest of your life.
The SSA does offer an expedited process for certain severe and terminal conditions, which you can find on its compassionate allowance list.
After age 50, qualifying for disability is easier because you only have to prove that your condition prevents you from doing the work you’re already doing. It’s more difficult to qualify for disability under the age of 50 because you have to prove to the SSA that you can’t do any job, including jobs you need to retrain for.
To qualify for SSDI, you must meet two basic criteria:
Learn more about SSDI eligibility rules.
To qualify for SSI, you must:
Learn more about SSI eligibility requirements.
Many conditions can qualify for Social Security disability benefits, as long as they make it impossible for you to work and are expected to impact you for at least a year.
The SSA released data in 2022 showing that disability benefit recipients in Connecticut have the following conditions:
Of all mental health conditions, recipients in Connecticut most often have:
Read more about qualifying disabilities and health conditions.
To apply for disability, complete the disability benefits application and all supplemental forms. The most common forms include a work history report, which describes your previous work experience, and a function report, which explains how your condition affects your daily life.
Applying on your own is always an option, but the process is long and isn’t always straightforward, so working with a disability lawyer can make the process easier. You can also reference our guides to help you apply for disability benefits for your child or apply for a family member or loved one.
Applying can take longer than you expect. Set aside plenty of time to gather all the required documents and to work through the application forms. A lawyer can help you manage all of your documentation, but there are still a few things you should do:
For more help getting started, here’s our step-by-step guide to the disability application.
You can submit your application to the SSA in the following three ways:
Applying in person is a great option if you choose not to work with a lawyer because the SSA staff can advise you on what the application questions are asking. It’s important to note, though, that they can’t give you personalized legal advice, like how to give stronger responses. A lawyer can also submit the application for you.
Related article: How a Lawyer Can Help Your Application.
There are several ways to get help with the application, but working with a disability lawyer is the best. They can strengthen your application and even complete it for you, as well as follow up with the SSA. This takes the burden of the application process off your shoulders. Here at Atticus, we provide free legal advice on filling out your application and finding the right lawyer for your case. Fill out our 2-minute disability quiz to get started.
After you apply for disability, the SSA will review your application and confirm that you meet all technical requirements. Next, Disability Determination Services (DDS) will verify your medical eligibility. This can often require a quick consultative exam with an SSA doctor to verify your condition. The SSA will then make a final decision on your application. It’s important to note that this process takes months.
The reality is that getting approved for benefits often isn’t easy. Knowing that up front can help you navigate the many stages of approval most applicants go through.
Unfortunately, as many as 75% of applicants are rejected the first time they apply. Applicants can then file for reconsideration, at which point the SSA rejects another 90% of applications. If you do get rejected, you can appeal the decision in a hearing in front of an administrative law judge (ALJ).
A hearing may seem intimidating, but you actually have the highest odds of approval at this stage. In 2022, more than 50% of applicants who made their case in front of a judge won their claim. Applicants who work with a lawyer are also three times more likely to win benefits.
Learn more about the odds of winning your disability appeal.
The SSA takes more than two years to approve the average disability application because most applicants have to go through multiple rounds of appeal.
Here’s how the wait breaks down:
In 2022, the average wait time to receive an initial decision was 6.1 months, or 184 days. Applicants then waited an average of 6.1 more months, or 183 days, for a decision on their reconsideration request. The amount of time it takes to get a hearing after that depends on which SSA office handles your application. In Connecticut, the average wait time to get a hearing is about 14 months. That means that applicants in Connecticut wait two years and three months from the time they apply until the time they’re approved, on average.
Still, the average wait time varies based on which SSA office handles your hearing. The table below shows wait times at the two Connecticut hearing offices.
Since the application process can take years, it’s important that you submit your application as soon as you can. Try to respond to all SSA requests quickly, as that’s the best and only way to prevent delays. A lawyer can also keep your application on track by following up with the SSA and handling appeal requests.
While the wait may feel long, the good news is that your first SSA check will include months or even years of back pay benefits that you missed out on while waiting for a decision.
Related: How to Find the Best Disability Lawyer Near You
In Connecticut, your benefits vary based on whether or not you receive SSDI or SSI, or even if you receive benefits from both programs at the same time.
The maximum possible SSDI payment in 2023 is $3,627. However, according to the most recent SSA data, Connecticut residents receive an average SSDI payment of $1,416.96.
The size of your SSDI check won’t change based on where you live or your specific medical conditions. Your personal income and work history determine the amount you’ll receive each month.
Use your SSA.gov account to find out how much your benefits will be:
Read more about how SSDI payments are calculated.
The monthly average SSI payment in Connecticut is $620.69, though SSI has a maximum monthly amount of $914 for 2023.
Your current monthly income is the biggest determining factor for your benefit amount. The SSA determines the money you receive each month — including part-time work earnings and stock earnings — and subtracts that from the monthly maximum. If you have no other income, your SSI checks would be $914.
Have more questions? Read more about how SSI payments are calculated.
Applying for SSI and SSDI can be challenging. Working with a disability lawyer is the best way to take that time and stress off your shoulders. Your lawyer can communicate with the SSA, handle your appeals, and make your case to a judge, all of which can make the application process much easier. For all these reasons and more, applicants who work with a lawyer are more likely to get approved.
As you search for a disability lawyer in Connecticut, consider these factors:
Finding a good, qualified lawyer is an invaluable part of the application process. But it isn’t easy. Atticus can help match you with someone who’s right for your claim — for free! We’ve been vetting disability lawyers for years, which means we’ve already identified the best people who will treat you with priority and respect. If you want help finding a lawyer, fill out our disability quiz to get started.
What qualifies you for disability in Connecticut?
To qualify for disability you need to have a condition that prevents you from working for at least a year. You’ll also need to meet certain work history requirements (for SSDI) or be within certain income limits (for SSI). For more on these requirements, read our full write up here.
What conditions qualify for disability in Connecticut?
Any condition that will prevent you from working for a year or more can qualify for disability benefits. Some of the most common conditions include musculoskeletal disorders, mental disorders, nervous system diseases, and circulatory system diseases. See our full list of conditions that qualify here.
How long does it take to get approved for disability in Connecticut?
It takes an average of 6.1 months to get an initial disability decision in Connecticut. Most people who apply are initially rejected, and need to appeal this decision. If you appeal and go to a hearing, the process takes just over two years on average. Read more: How Long Does it Take to Get Approved for Disability benefits?
How much does disability pay in Connecticut?
The average SSDI payment in Connecticut is $1,416.96 per month. The average SSI payment is $629.34. What you’ll earn depends on your income, or the amount you’ve historically paid into the Social Security program. Read more on what amount you can expect.
How should I prepare my disability application in Connecticut?
Answer the application questions truthfully, consistently, and succinctly. You should also ensure that you gather and submit all your medical records with your application. The SSA paperwork can be complicated, so our legal team has written a full guide to the application here.
Does Connecticut have a state disability program?
No, Connecticut doesn't have its own state disability program. Only five states have a state program (California, Hawaii, New Jersey, New York, and Rhode Island). Residents of Connecticut can apply for federal disability programs (SSDI and SSI). Read more about SSDI and SSI here.
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