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More than 134,000 Minnesota residents received disability benefits through the Social Security Administration (SSA) in 2022. They’re proof that you can win benefits even though the application process seems long and intimidating.
To help you apply for disability in Minnesota, this guide will explain what you need to know about qualifying for benefits, the application process, and determining the potential benefits you may receive.
Minnesota doesn’t have a state disability program, but residents can qualify for benefits through either the federal government or a private insurance company. The following are the four disability programs Minnesota residents can apply for:
Moving forward, this guide will focus on SSDI and SSI since most Minnesota residents with disabilities will qualify for one of those two programs. For more on the other programs, here’s our breakdown of disability benefit types.
To get approved for disability, recipients have to meet extensive medical and technical criteria. SSDI and SSI have different technical requirements, but their medical requirements are the same.
Before you can qualify for SSDI or SSI, you have to prove that your disability or medical condition makes it impossible for you to work. Your doctor must also confirm that they expect your condition to last for at least one more year — or for the rest of your life. The SSA also uses its compassionate allowance list to more quickly award benefits for terminal conditions.
Qualifying for disability is easier after age 50 because you only have to prove that you can’t continue the types of jobs you’ve already done. Under age 50, it’s more difficult to qualify because you have to prove to the SSA that your condition makes it impossible for you to do any job, even jobs you’d need to retrain to get.
To qualify for SSDI, you must meet two basic criteria:
Learn more about SSDI technical eligibility rules.
To qualify for SSI, you must:
Learn more about SSI eligibility.
The SSA awards disability benefits for many different conditions, as long as they make it impossible for you to work and are expected to impact your work for at least a year.
In 2022, SSA data shows that disability recipients in Minnesota most commonly have the following conditions:
Recipients in Minnesota with mental health conditions most often have:
For more, start with this guide to qualifying for disability with a mental health condition.
Applying for disability starts with the main disability application form. Then you’ll need to complete a few supplemental forms. These include a work history report to describe your work experience and a function report to explain how your condition impacts your daily life.
While you can always apply on your own, getting help from a disability lawyer will make the process easier. We’ve also created these helpful guides if you need help applying for disability on behalf of your child or another loved one.
Applying is time-consuming, even after you gather all the required materials. Set aside one to two hours to complete the application in full. A lawyer can help you manage the process, but there are also a few key tasks you should do:
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:
If you choose not to work with a lawyer, applying in person is a great option because the SSA staff can explain what the application questions are asking. That said, only a lawyer can give you personalized legal advice, like the best way to answer the questions and which information to include or exclude. A lawyer can also submit the application on your behalf.
Read more about how a lawyer can help your application.
It’s common to want help with the application. Working with a disability lawyer is one of the best ways to get help because they can strengthen your responses, complete the application for you, and handle all communication with the SSA. This can take a lot of the stress off your shoulders.
Here at Atticus, we’re a law firm so we can provide free legal advice on filling out your application and find the right lawyer for your case. Fill out our 2-minute disability quiz to get started.
After you apply for disability, the SSA reviews your application to confirm that you meet all technical requirements. Disability Determination Services (DDS) will verify your medical eligibility. DDS may also want to confirm your health information through a quick consultative exam with an SSA doctor. The SSA then makes a decision on your application. All said and done, this process takes an average of six months.
Getting approved for disability is difficult. Setting that expectation with yourself can help you withstand the many stages of denial and appeal that most applications go through.
The reality is that about 70% of applicants are rejected the first time they apply, at which point they can file for reconsideration. But the SSA rejects 90% of applications at this stage. You can appeal the decision through a hearing with an administrative law judge (ALJ).
While a hearing may seem daunting, applicants that reach this stage actually have higher odds of approval. More than 50% of the applicants who made their case in front of a judge in 2022 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.
It takes more than two years for the SSA to approve the average disability application. The long wait typically comes down to the multiple rounds of appeal most applicants have to go through.
The SSA took an average of 6.1 months, or 184 days, to make an initial decision in 2022. Applicants waited an average of 6.1 more months, or 183 days, to receive a decision on their reconsideration request. After that, the amount of time it takes to get a hearing depends on which SSA office oversees your application. Applicants in Minnesota typically wait an average of 17 months to get a hearing. That means that Minnesota applicants typically wait about two years and five months from the time they apply until the time they’re approved.
While the average wait time does vary, there is only one hearing office in Minnesota. The average wait time to get a hearing there is shown below:
Because the application process can take years, it’s important that you submit your application as soon as possible. You can prevent further delays by quickly responding to all SSA requests. Your lawyer can also keep the process moving by following up with the SSA and managing your appeals.
The wait can feel long, but the silver lining is that your first SSA check will include 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 in every state. How much you get is based on whether you receive SSDI or SSI (or if you receive benefits from both programs at the same time).
In 2023, the maximum possible SSDI payment is $3,627 per month. For Minnesota residents, though, the average SSDI payment is $1,350.71 per month.
Payment amounts vary based on your personal income history and how much you’ve paid in Social Security tax. Where exactly you live won’t change your SSDI check. Your specific medical condition also doesn’t impact your benefit amount.
To find out how much your benefits will be, use your SSA.gov account:
In 2023, the SSA has a maximum monthly payment of $914, but the average monthly SSI payment in Minnesota is $636.69.
Your benefit amount will vary based on your current monthly income. To determine your monthly payment, the SSA will subtract the money you receive each month — including SNAP benefits, part-time work earnings, and stock earnings — from the monthly maximum. That means that if you have no other income, your SSI checks would be $914.
Have more questions? Here’s how SSI check is calculated.
Applying for SSDI and SSI can feel daunting. Working with a disability lawyer can make the process much more approachable. Your lawyer can follow up with the SSA, manage your appeals, and handle any court proceedings, all of which can take the stress out of the application process. If you do need a hearing in front of a judge, your lawyer can help build your case and cross-examine witnesses. For all these reasons and more, applicants who work with a lawyer are more likely to get approved.
Consider these five factors as you search for a disability lawyer in Minnesota:
A good, experienced lawyer can make all the difference in your application process. But finding that person is challenging. Atticus can help you find a qualified lawyer who will treat you with the attention and respect you deserve. To get matched, start with our free disability quiz. You won’t have to work with our lawyers unless you want to and you’ll never have to 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 Minnesota. 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 Minnesota is $1,350.71 per month. The average SSI payment is $636.69 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, Minnesota does not have a state disability program. Only five states (California, Hawaii, New Jersey, New York, and Rhode Island) have a state program. Residents of Minnesota can apply for federal disability programs (SSDI and SSI). Read more about SSDI and SSI here.
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