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 Maryland, more than 135,000 people received disability benefits from the Social Security Administration (SSA) in 2022 alone. While the process can seem long and intimidating, they’re proof that you’re not alone and that you can win benefits.
To help you apply and win benefits, this guide will explain what you need to know about qualifying for disability benefits in Maryland, the application process, and determining the potential benefits you may receive.
The state of Maryland doesn’t offer its own disability programs, but residents can access benefits through the federal government or a private insurance company. These are the four disability programs Marylanders can apply for:
The rest of this guide will explain how to apply for SSDI and SSI because most Marylanders with a disability will qualify for one of those programs. Read our breakdown of disability benefit types to learn more about the other programs.
Before recipients get approved for disability, they have to meet rigorous medical and technical criteria. The medical requirements for SSDI and SSI are the same, but their technical requirements are different.
To qualify for SSDI or SSI, your disability or medical condition must make it impossible for you to work. The SSA will also require confirmation from your doctor that they expect your condition to last for at least one more year — or for the rest of your life. If you have a terminal condition that's on the SSA’s compassionate allowance list, you can more quickly qualify for benefits.
It’s easier to qualify for disability after age 50 because you only have to prove that you can’t keep doing the kind of work you’ve already done. If you’re under age 50, it may be harder for you to qualify because you’ll have to prove to the SSA that you can’t do any job, even jobs that require retraining.
To qualify for SSDI, you must meet two basic criteria:
Learn more about the rules for SSDI eligibility.
To qualify for SSI, you must:
Learn more about SSI eligibility.
Some health conditions qualify more often than others. But as long as the condition makes it impossible for someone to work and is expected to impact their work for at least a year, the SSA may award disability benefits.
SSA data from 2022 shows that the following conditions are most common among Marylanders receiving SSDI and SSI:
Recipients in Maryland with mental health conditions most often have:
For more, start with this guide to qualifying for disability with a mental health condition.
To apply for disability, the first thing to fill out is the main disability application form. Next, move on to the supplemental forms: a work history report that describes your work experience and a function report that explains how your condition impacts your daily life.
Applying on your own is always an option, but working with a disability lawyer will make the process easier. We’ve also created useful resources if you need help applying for disability on behalf of your child or another loved one.
Even after you gather all the required materials, applying is time-intensive. Make sure you have one to two hours to complete the application in full. A lawyer can help with the process, but there are a few key tasks you can help take care of:
For more help, here’s our step-by-step guide to starting the disability application.
You can submit your application to the SSA in the following three ways:
Applying in person can be a great option if you choose not to work with a lawyer. The SSA staff can help you understand what the application questions are asking. Still, only a lawyer can give you personalized legal advice, like the best way to answer the questions and which details to include or exclude. A lawyer can also submit your application for you.
Read more about how a lawyer can help your application.
If you want help with the application, talking to a disability lawyer is one of your best options. They can make your responses stronger, help you gather medical records, complete the application for you, and communicate with the SSA. A lawyer can make the process a lot less stressful.
Atticus is a law firm, which means we can provide free legal advice on your application and finding the right lawyer for your case. Fill out our 2-minute disability quiz to get started.
The SSA will review your application to make sure you meet all the technical requirements. Disability Determination Services (DDS) will check to see if you’re medically eligible. DDS may also request a quick consultative exam with an SSA doctor to confirm your health information. After that, the SSA will make a decision on your application. All told, this process takes an average of six months.
Unfortunately, getting approved for disability isn’t easy. Knowing that now can help you prepare for the many stages of denial and appeal that most applications go through.
About 70% of applicants are rejected the first time they apply. Those that get rejected can file for reconsideration. At this stage, the SSA rejects 90% of applications. You can appeal the decision through a hearing with an administrative law judge (ALJ).
While you might feel nervous about a hearing, it can be a good thing for your case. In 2022, more than 50% of the applicants who appealed in front of a judge won their claim. Those who work with a lawyer are also three times more likely to get benefits.
Learn more about the odds of winning your disability appeal.
The SSA takes more than two years to approve the average disability application. Most applicants go through multiple rounds of appeals, which contributes to the long wait.
In 2022, the SSA made an initial decision after 6.1 months, or 184 days. Applicants then waited an average of 6.1 more months, another 183 days, to receive a decision on their reconsideration request. After that, wait times vary depending on which SSA hearing office handles your hearing. All said and done, Maryland applicants typically wait just over two years and one month from the time they apply until the time they’re approved.
The average wait time to get a hearing at the two Maryland hearing offices is shown below:
There aren’t many ways to speed up the process, but there are ways to avoid delays. Start by submitting your application as soon as possible. Then respond quickly to all SSA requests to prevent further delays. Your lawyer can also nudge the process along by staying in touch with the SSA and managing your appeals.
While the wait may feel long, there’s good news. Your first SSA check will have back pay benefits that cover the months or even years of payments you missed while waiting for a decision.
Related article: How to Find a Good Disability Lawyer Near You
Disability benefits vary from state to state. Your benefits amount will change based on whether you receive SSDI or SSI (or if you receive benefits from both programs at the same time).
The maximum possible SSDI payment in 2023 is $3,627 per month. That said, disability recipients in Maryland receive an average of $1,413.31.
Your personal income history and how much you’ve paid into Social Security tax will impact your payment amounts. Where exactly you live won’t have an effect on your SSDI check, nor will your specific medical condition.
To find out how much your benefits will be, use your SSA.gov account:
The most you can receive per month through SSI in 2023 is $914. In Maryland, the average monthly payment is $651.63 as of 2022.
Your current monthly income has the largest impact on your benefit amount. To decide your monthly payment, the SSA will subtract the money you have coming in each month — including part-time work earnings and certain other benefits — from the monthly maximum. If you have no other income, your SSI checks would be $914.
Have more questions? Here’s how SSI is calculated.
Applying for SSDI and SSI can be stressful. Working with a disability lawyer can take a lot of the work off your plate. Your lawyer can communicate with the SSA, handle your appeals, and appear for any court proceedings, all of which can make the application process easier to handle. They can also help build your case and cross-examine witnesses if you do need a hearing in front of a judge. These are just a few of the reasons why applicants who work with a lawyer are more likely to get approved.
As you search for a Maryland disability lawyer, consider the following four factors:
Finding the right lawyer for you is difficult. Atticus can help you find someone who’s experienced, will make you a priority, and will treat you with respect. Start with our free disability quiz to get matched. You’ll still get to choose whether to work with one of our lawyers, and you won’t ever pay anything until after you win benefits.
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.
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.
It takes an average of 6.1 months to get an initial disability decision in Maryland. Most people who apply are initially rejected, and need to appeal this decision. If you appeal and go to a hearing, the process takes around two years on average. Read more: How Long It Takes to Get Approved for Disability Benefits
The average SSDI payment in Maryland is $1,413.31 per month. The average SSI payment is $651.63 per month. What you’ll earn is dependent on your income, or the amount you’ve historically paid into the Social Security program. Read more on what amount you can expect.
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.
No, Maryland doesn't have a state disability program. Only five states (California, Hawaii, New Jersey, New York, and Rhode Island) have a state program. Residents of Maryland can apply for federal disability programs (SSDI and SSI). Read more about SSDI and SSI here.
How long has your condition made it hard to work?
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