Connecticut Disability Benefits: How to Qualify, Apply, and Get Approved
March 16, 2023 · 8 min read
Why trust us?
Atticus offers free, high-quality disability advice for Americans who can't work. Our team of Stanford and Harvard trained lawyers has a combined 15+ years of legal experience, and have helped over 10,000 Americans apply for disability benefits.
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.
What Connecticut disability program should I apply for?
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:
Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI): Americans who have worked before but have a medical condition that makes it difficult for them to continue can qualify for SSDI through the federal government. Of all disability programs, SSDI has the largest benefit amounts. How much you get is based on how much income you’ve earned and the amount of taxes you’ve paid. SSDI also comes with Medicare. If you’ve worked and paid taxes for at least five of the past 10 years, you’re more likely to qualify for SSDI.
Supplemental Security Income (SSI): The federal government offers SSI for people with limited income and assets. People who haven’t worked recently enough to qualify for SSDI or who haven’t worked at all can get SSI benefits. You’ll also get health insurance through Medicaid.
Veterans disability benefits: Active and retired veterans may qualify for disability benefits through the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) if they are injured during their military service and can’t work as a result. It is possible to get VA benefits in addition to SSDI and SSI. Learn more about how to apply for VA benefits.
Long-term or short-term private disability insurance: Many employers offer private disability policies, but you can also purchase one directly from an insurance company. If you had a private disability plan before your medical condition stopped you from working, you can file a claim with your insurer. Payments are often up to 60% of your former paychecks and may last months or years. Check your individual plan details for specifics.
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.
Skip the reading. See which benefits you qualify for in 2-minutes or less.
How to qualify for disability in Connecticut
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.
Medical qualifications for disability benefits
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.
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.
Technical SSDI qualifications
To qualify for SSDI, you must meet two basic criteria:
You’re 66 years old or younger.
You’ve paid enough taxes into Social Security to meet SSA work credit requirements. If you’ve worked at least five of the last 10 years, you’re likely to qualify. You can create a free SSA.gov account to see how many work credits you have.
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:
Gather your personal records. This includes medical records, treatment forms, bank account information, work history, and contact information for all relevant healthcare providers.
Submit the application and all supplemental documents. Double-check for any inconsistencies. The SSA will look for contradictions in any of your application documents. Make sure you’re realistic and honest about your limitations, like pain levels and the symptoms associated with your condition.
Follow up with the SSA right after you submit. The SSA receives a high number of submissions. Call the SSA or have your lawyer make contact to ensure they’ve received and are processing your application.
Respond to any SSA requests immediately. If the SSA requests additional information, you’ll have 10 days to respond. Responding faster can help avoid processing delays.
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.
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.
What happens after I apply for disability?
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.
Your chances of getting approved for benefits
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.
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.
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.
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:
Reviews: You want a lawyer who has many happy customers. A couple of bad reviews may not mean you should avoid the lawyer (even the best lawyers don’t win every time) but a pattern of negative comments or reviews may be a sign that they aren’t the right fit.
Primary area of practice: Look for lawyers who specialize in disability benefits. These cases are unique and can benefit from lawyers with expertise in this legal area.
Location (to an extent): Connecticut only has two hearing offices. Working with a lawyer located near your hearing office may help because they’ll probably know the judges. But a remote lawyer who can consult over the phone can still represent you and they can still help you win benefits, so don’t rule them out. Social Security disability rules are the same in every state.
Communication: The application process is long, and you deserve to have peace of mind every step of the way. Find a lawyer who is responsive and willing to connect so you can get updates when you need them.
Practice history: If a lawyer has won disability cases in the past, there’s a good chance they can also win your case. New lawyers can also provide great representation, but it’s harder to verify they have the skills to help you.
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.
Get free legal help (and a lawyer — only if you want one)
Frequently asked questions about benefits in Connecticut
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.
At the bottom of many websites, you'll find a small disclaimer: "We are not a law firm and are not qualified to give legal advice." If you see this, run the other way. These people can't help you: they're prohibited by law from giving meaningful advice, recommending specific lawyers, or even telling you whether you need a lawyer at all.
There’s no disclaimer here: Atticus is a law firm, and we are qualified to give legal advice. We can answer your most pressing questions, make clear recommendations, and search far and wide to find the right lawyer for you.
Two important things to note: If we give you legal advice, it will be through a lawyer on our staff communicating with you directly. (Don't make important decisions about your case based solely on this or any other website.) And if we take you on as a client, it will be through a document you sign. (No attorney-client relationship arises from using this site or calling us.)