Mississippi Disability Benefits: Qualify, Apply, and Get Approved
April 27, 2023 · 8 min read
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There are more than 135,000 Mississippi residents who received disability benefits from the Social Security Administration (SSA) in 2022. Each of them has navigated the application process you now face — proof that you can do it too.
This guide will explain what you need to know about qualifying for benefits in Mississippi, the application process, and determining the potential benefits you may receive.
What Mississippi disability program should I apply for?
There is no state-run disability program in Mississippi. That said, state residents can either apply for benefits through the federal government or purchase a plan from a private insurance company. Mississippians may be eligible for any of these four programs:
Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI): If you’ve worked for years but can’t continue because of a medical condition, you may qualify for the federal government’s SSDI program. Your SSDI payment amount will depend on how much income you’ve earned and the amount of taxes you’ve paid. SSDI also has the largest benefit amount of any disability program and comes with Medicare health insurance. You’re more likely to qualify if you’ve worked at least five of the past 10 years.
Supplemental Security Income (SSI): The federal government provides benefits for people with limited income and assets through SSI. If you’ve never worked or haven’t worked recently enough to qualify for SSDI, you can qualify for SSI benefits. SSI also includes Medicaid.
Veterans disability benefits: Active-duty or retired veterans who can’t work because of an injury they sustained during their military service can apply for benefits from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). Visit our VA benefits page to learn more. It’s possible to receive SSDI or SSI while you’re receiving VA benefits.
Long-term or short-term private disability insurance: You can file a claim if you had an active plan through your employer or a private insurer before you had to stop working. These plans typically offer payments worth up to 60% of your former paychecks and can last for months or years. You may have to apply for SSDI alongside your long-term disability plan.
Most Mississippians with a disability will qualify for SSDI or SSI. This guide will now focus on helping you apply for either of those programs. Learn about other programs in 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 Mississippi
SSDI and SSI benefits recipients must meet the SSA’s strict medical and technical requirements. The programs share medical criteria, but their technical criteria differ.
Medical qualifications for disability benefits
Before you can medically 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 — if not for the rest of your life. You can more quickly qualify for benefits if you have a terminal condition on the SSA’s compassionate allowance list.
It is easier after age 50 to qualify for disability because you only have to prove that you can’t continue doing the types of jobs you’ve done in the past. It’s harder to qualify under age 50 because you have to prove to the SSA that you can’t do any kind of work, even work that would require you to retrain.
Technical SSDI qualifications
To qualify for SSDI, you must meet two basic criteria:
You’re 66 years old or younger (below your full retirement age).
You meet the work credit requirements, meaning you’ve paid enough taxes into Social Security. You will likely 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.
The application is long, even once you’ve gathered all the necessary materials. Set aside at least one to two hours to complete the initial application forms. Your lawyer can handle much of the process, but there are a few key tasks you can help with:
Prepare all your personal records. This includes medical records, treatment forms, bank account information, work and income history, and contact information for your healthcare providers.
Fill out the whole application and all supplemental documents. Missing information can cause a processing delay, so make sure you answered every question and completed every form.
Keep answers honest and consistent. Be realistic and honest about your limitations, including the pain levels and symptoms your condition causes. The SSA will verify that the information in all of your application forms matches your medical documents.
Follow up with the SSA right after you submit. This ensures the SSA hasn’t lost your application amid the many submissions they receive. Confirm that they’ve received and are working through your application.
Respond to any requests from the SSA immediately. You’ll have 10 days to send additional information. If you respond faster, you may be able to avoid processing delays.
If you choose not to work with a lawyer, consider applying in person. The SSA office staff can explain what the application questions are asking. That said, only a lawyer can give you personalized advice, like how to make your responses stronger or which details to include or exclude.
If you decide you want help with the application, consider working with a disability lawyer. A lawyer is the best option because they can strengthen your responses, fill out the application for you, and follow up with the SSA. Lawyers can simplify the process for you and applicants with lawyers are more likely to win benefits.
After you apply, the SSA will process and review your application. They’ll verify that you meet all technical requirements, then they’ll send your application to Disability Determination Services (DDS). At DDS, they’ll confirm that you’re medically eligible, which can require a quick consultative exam with an SSA doctor to confirm your health information. The SSA will then make a decision on your application. This may sound quick, but the process takes six months, on average.
Match with a great disability lawyer in Mississippi
Your chances of getting approved for benefits
Getting approved for disability is challenging, and your odds aren’t always good. Understanding that can help you navigate the many stages of denial and appeal most applicants go through.
The SSA rejects about 70% of first-time applicants. If rejected, applicants can file for reconsideration. Even then, the SSA rejects another 90% of applications. You can request a disability hearing in front of an administrative law judge (ALJ) to appeal the decision.
A hearing may sound daunting, but it actually comes with the highest odds of approval of the entire process. More than 50% of the applicants who appeared in front of an ALJ in 2022 won their claim. Applicants who work with a lawyer are also three times more likely to get benefits.
How long does it take to get disability benefits in Mississippi?
Considering the multiple rounds of appeal that most applicants go through, applicants in Mississippi typically wait just over two years — 27 months — from the time they apply until the time they’re approved. This is similar to the average national wait, which is just over two years in March 2023.
Here how the wait breaks down, based on the average wait for each application stage:
Initial decision: 6.1 months, or 184 days
Reconsideration decision: 6.1 months, or 183 days
Wait time for a hearing: 14.9 months (plus 1-3 months to get a decision)
Your wait time also varies depending on the hearing office that handles your claim. You can see the average time to get a hearing at the three Mississippi hearing offices below.
Wait time for a hearing
How to speed up the process
Unfortunately, you can’t speed up the process. That said, you can avoid delays. Submit your application as soon as you can and quickly respond to any SSA requests to prevent slowdowns. Your lawyer can also move the process forward by following up with the SSA and handling your appeals.
The wait is long but if you do get approved, you’ll be compensated for it. Your first check will include back pay benefits for the months or even years of payments you missed while waiting for the SSA’s decision.
The maximum monthly payment in 2023 for SSI is $914. That said, Mississippians receive an average of $586.09 per month.
Your benefit amount will depend on your monthly income. To determine your monthly payment, the SSA will subtract the money you have coming in each month from the monthly maximum. Your SSA checks would be $914 if you have no other income.
Applying for SSDI and SSI isn’t easy. Getting help from a disability lawyer can take a lot of the stress off your shoulders. Your lawyer can follow up with the SSA, manage your appeals, and represent you in front of a judge, all of which can make the process much more manageable. For all these reasons, applicants who work with a lawyer are more likely to get approved.
Consider the following factors as you search for a disability lawyer in Mississippi:
Reviews: Positive reviews are a great sign, but look at negative ones too. If you notice a pattern — like multiple reviews saying the lawyer is forgetful or rude — that’s a red flag. You’ll want a lawyer who is respectful and communicative, but remember that a lawyer can’t win every single case.
Communication: The application process is long, so you’ll likely want updates. You won’t hear from your lawyer every day or even every week while you wait, but you should look for a lawyer who will stay in touch with you and the SSA.
Primary area of practice: Social Security disability is a unique area of the law. Look for a lawyer who specializes because they’re more likely to have the expertise to successfully represent you.
Location (to an extent): A lawyer local to your hearing office may know the judges’ tendencies, which can help your case. Still, the Social Security disability rules are the same in every state, so a remote lawyer who consults over the phone can be equally helpful. A good remote lawyer is better than a bad local lawyer.
Finding the right representation is challenging, but Atticus can help you find an experienced lawyer who will give you attention and respect you deserve. 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 pay anything until after you win benefits.
Ready to get benefits today?
Frequently asked questions about benefits in Mississippi
How do I qualify for disability in Mississippi?
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 Mississippi?
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 Mississippi?
It takes an average of 6.1 months to get an initial disability decision in Mississippi. 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 Mississippi?
The average SSDI payment in Mississippi is $1,297.66 per month. The average SSI payment is $586.09 per month. 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 Mississippi?
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 Mississippi have a state disability program?
No, Mississippi 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 Mississippi can apply for federal disability programs through SSDI and SSI. Read more about SSDI and SSI here.
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