Maryland Disability Benefits: How to Qualify, Apply, and Get Approved
April 19, 2023 · 8 min read
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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.
What Maryland disability program should I apply for?
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:
Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI): Consider applying for SSDI through the SSA if you’ve worked for years but have a medical condition that makes it difficult to continue. How much income you’ve earned and the amount of taxes you’ve paid will determine your SSDI payment amount. They offer the largest benefits of any disability program and include Medicare health insurance. You’re more likely to qualify for SSDI if you have a long work history, including at least five of the past 10 years.
Supplemental Security Income (SSI): People with limited income and assets may qualify for SSI through the federal government. You can get benefits through SSI if you’ve never worked or haven’t worked recently enough to qualify for SSDI. If you qualify, you’ll also receive Medicaid.
Veterans disability benefits: The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) offers disability benefits for active-duty or retired veterans who can’t work because of an injury they sustained during their military service. Learn more on our VA disability benefits page. You can receive VA disability at the same time as SSI or SSDI.
Long-term or short-term private disability insurance: If you had an active plan through your employer or a private insurer before you stopped working, you can file a claim. Payments can last months or years and typically offer up to 60% of your former paychecks. Your insurance company will probably require you to apply for SSDI anyway if you’re on a long-term disability plan.
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.
Skip the reading. See which benefits you qualify for in 2-minutes or less.
How to qualify for disability in Maryland
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.
Medical qualifications for disability benefits
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.
Technical SSDI qualifications
To qualify for SSDI, you must meet two basic criteria:
You’re 66 years old or younger.
You meet SSA work credit requirements, meaning you’ve paid enough taxes into Social Security. You’re likely to qualify if you’ve worked at least five of the last 10 years. To see how many work credits you have, create a free account on SSA.gov.
Conditions that qualify for disability in Maryland
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:
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:
Prepare all your personal records. This includes medical records, treatment forms, bank account information, work and income history, and contact information for your doctors and other healthcare providers.
Submit the application and all supplemental documents. Check to make sure you answered every question and filled out every form. Missing information will lead to processing delays.
Answer honestly. The SSA will check to see whether your application and your supporting documents match. Make sure you’re realistic and honest about your limitations, including the pain levels and symptoms associated with your condition.
Follow up with the SSA right after you submit. The SSA receives many submissions. You or your lawyer should get in touch with the SSA to verify that they’ve received and are working through your application.
Respond to any requests from the SSA immediately. The SSA will give you 10 days to provide additional information, but responding faster can help avoid delays.
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.
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.
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.
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Your chances of getting approved for benefits
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.
How long does it take to get disability benefits in Maryland?
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:
How to speed up the process
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.
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:
Log in or create an account with your Social Security number (SSN).
Scroll down to the section titled “More Benefits.”
Average SSI payments in Maryland
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.
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:
Reviews: Look for positive reviews, but don’t overlook everyone with a few negative ones. Beware of any patterns, though. For example, if every negative review says the lawyer was rude, that’s a red flag. But keep in mind that even the best lawyers lose from time to time.
Communication: The application process is intense, and you deserve to be kept in the loop. You won’t need to talk to your lawyer every day or even every week during the long processing times, but you do want a lawyer who is responsive to questions from you and the SSA.
Primary area of practice: Social Security disability benefits are complex and unique. You’ll benefit from a lawyer with years of experience representing applicants like you.
Location (to an extent): Working with a lawyer close to the hearing office can help because they may know the judges. That said, a remote lawyer who consults over the phone can still offer the counsel you need to win your case. Social Security disability rules are the same in every state so, ultimately, a good remote lawyer is better than a bad local lawyer.
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.
Ready to get benefits today?
Frequently asked questions about benefits in Maryland
How do I qualify for disability in Maryland?
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 Maryland?
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 Maryland?
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
How much does disability pay in Maryland?
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.
How should I prepare my disability application in Maryland?
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 Maryland have a state disability program?
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.
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