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Minnesota Disability Benefits: How to Qualify, Apply, and Get Approved

Written by
Jackie Jakab, Disability Attorney
Jackie Jakab
Lead Attorney
March 31, 2023  ·  8 min read
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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.


What Minnesota disability program should I apply for?

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:

  1. Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI): If you’ve worked for years but have a medical condition that makes it difficult to continue, you can qualify for SSDI through the federal government. Your SSDI payment amount is based on how much income you’ve earned and the amount of taxes you’ve paid. They’re the largest benefits and include health insurance through Medicare. You’re more likely to qualify for SSDI if you have a long work history, including at least five of the past 10 years.
  2. Supplemental Security Income (SSI): SSI is the second disability program available through the federal government, and it covers people with limited income and assets. If you’ve never worked or haven’t worked recently enough to qualify for SSDI, you can still get benefits through SSI. Qualifying also included Medicaid.
  3. Veterans disability benefits: If you’re an active-duty or retired veteran and you can’t work because of an injury you sustained during your military service, you may qualify for disability through the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). It is possible to receive VA disability in addition to SSI or SSDI. Learn more about applying for VA benefits.
  4. Long-term or short-term private disability insurance: Employers and private insurers both offer these policies. If you had an active plan before you stopped working, you can file a claim with your insurer. Payments may last months or years and typically amount to up to 60% of your former paychecks. With long-term disability plans, the insurance company will probably require you to apply for SSDI anyway.

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.

Skip the reading. See which benefits you qualify for in 2-minutes or less.

How to qualify for disability in Minnesota

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. 

Medical qualifications for disability benefits

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. 

Technical SSDI qualifications

To qualify for SSDI, you must meet two basic criteria:

  1. You’re 66 years old or younger.
  2. 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.

Learn more about SSDI technical eligibility rules.

Technical SSI qualifications

To qualify for SSI, you must:

  1. Have little to no income, usually less than about $900 per month.
  2. Have few personal assets, including retirement or personal savings of less than $2,000 for single individuals and $3,000 for married individuals.

Learn more about SSI eligibility.


Get matched with a great disability lawyer in Minnesota

Common conditions that qualify for disability in Minnesota

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:

  • Mental health conditions: 45.2%
  • Musculoskeletal disorders: 23.2%
  • Neurological (nervous system) disorders: 10.9%
  • Cardiovascular (circulatory system) disorders: 5%
  • Injuries: 3.3%
  • Cancers (neoplasms): 3.2%
  • Respiratory conditions: 1.8%
  • Endocrine disorders: 1.4%
  • Digestive system disorders: 1.3%
  • Genitourinary disorders (kidney disease): 1.3%
  • Congenital anomalies (birth defects): 0.7%
  • Infectious and parasitic diseases: 0.5%
  • Hematological (blood) disorders: 0.2%
  • Skin conditions: 0.2%
  • Other qualifying conditions: 0.2%

Recipients in Minnesota with mental health conditions most often have: 

  • Depression, bipolar disorder, and related disorders: 20,173 people
  • Intellectual disorders: 15,141 people
  • Schizophrenia and other psychotic disorders: 8,014 people

For more, start with this guide to qualifying for disability with a mental health condition.


How to apply for disability in Minnesota

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

How should I prepare my application?

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:

  • Have all your personal records ready. This includes medical records, treatment forms, bank account information, work and income history, and contact information for your healthcare providers.
  • Submit the application and all supplemental documents. Make sure to fill out every form and don’t leave any questions blank. Missing information will lead to processing delays.
  • Answer honestly. Be realistic and honest about your limitations, including the pain levels and symptoms associated with your condition. The SSA will also check to see whether what you write in your application and supporting documents contradict each other, so make sure you’re consistent.
  • Follow up with the SSA right after you submit. Because the SSA receives a high number of submissions, you or your lawyer should follow up with the SSA to ensure they’ve received and are processing your application.
  • Respond to any requests from the SSA immediately. You’ll have 10 days to respond if the SSA requests additional information, but responding faster can help avoid processing delays.

For more help, here’s our step-by-step guide to starting the disability application.

3 ways to submit your application

You can submit your application to the SSA in the following three ways:

  1. Apply online through the SSA website.
  2. Apply over the phone by calling 1-800-772-1213 or your local office.
  3. Apply in person at your local SSA office.

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.

Getting help with the 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.


What happens after I apply for disability?

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.


Your chances of getting approved for benefits

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.


How long does it take to get disability benefits in Minnesota?

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. 

We’ll explain:

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:

Hearing office

Wait time

Minnesota

17 months

How to speed up the process

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


How much are disability benefits in Minnesota?

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). 

Average SSDI payments in Minnesota

In 2024, the maximum possible SSDI payment is $3,822 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: 

Average SSI payments in Minnesota

In 2024, the SSA has a maximum monthly payment of $943, 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 $943.

Have more questions? Here’s how SSI check is calculated.


How to find a disability lawyer in Minnesota

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:

  • Reviews: Don’t just look for a lawyer with favorable reviews, but also look for patterns within their negative reviews. For example, if every negative review says the layer isn’t responsive, that’s a red flag. Keep in mind that even a great lawyer can’ win every case.
  • Communication: Look for a lawyer who is responsive and proactive about connecting with you and the SSA. The application process is long, and you’ll benefit from a lawyer who will keep you updated. Just know that during the long processing times, you won’t need to talk with your lawyer every day or even every week.
  • Primary area of practice: Prioritize lawyers that specialize in Social Security disability benefits. It’s a complex and unique area of law, so you’ll benefit from a lawyer with years of expertise in it.
  • Location (to an extent): Minnesota has only one hearing office, so it can help to work with a lawyer close to that office who knows the judges. However, a remote lawyer who consults over the phone can still help you win benefits. Social Security disability rules are the same in every state and a good lawyer who lives further away from you is more valuable than a bad lawyer who lives very close.

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.

Ready to get benefits today?

Frequently asked questions about benefits in Minnesota

What qualifies you for disability in Minnesota?

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 Minnesota?

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 Minnesota?

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

How much does disability pay in Minnesota?

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.

How should I prepare my disability application in Minnesota?

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 Minnesota have a state disability program?

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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Jackie Jakab, Disability Attorney

Jackie Jakab

Lead Attorney

Jackie Jakab is Atticus’s Legal Director. She’s a licensed attorney, a graduate of the University of Chicago Law School, and has counseled thousands of people seeking disability benefits.
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