Nebraska Disability Benefits: How to Qualify, Apply, and Get Approved
March 31, 2023 · 8 min read
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Many Americans have health problems that affect their ability to work. In fact, around 47,000 Nebraska residents receive disability benefits from the Social Security Administration (SSA). These benefits are incredibly helpful in giving you financial stability, but getting approved isn’t always easy. In this guide, you’ll learn all the information you need about how to apply and qualify for benefits.
What Nebraska disability program should I apply for?
Like most states, Nebraska doesn’t have a state disability program. However, residents can still qualify for the following federal and private disability programs:
Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI): SSDI provides monthly benefits to those with disabilities that leave them unable to work for at least a year. For the most part, if you’ve worked for years, including at least five out of the past 10 years, you’re likely to qualify. Your income history determines the amount you’ll receive in benefits each month. Plus, SSDI provides Medicare coverage.
Supplemental Security Income (SSI): SSI is an option for people that don’t qualify for SSDI. It’s a similar program that provides monthly benefits and free health insurance (Medicaid) to people with disabilities. Those without much work history or little to no monthly income are eligible.
Veterans disability benefits: Veterans with service-related injuries that prevent them from working can apply for disability benefits through the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). Both active and retired members are eligible to receive these benefits. It is possible to receive VA benefits in addition to SSI or SSDI. Learn more about how to apply for VA benefits.
Private disability insurance: With short-term and long-term disability insurance policies, you could receive up to 60% of your income for several months or years if you’re unable to work because of an illness or injury. Insurance companies and employers commonly offer these policies, but you need to have a policy in place before your medical condition develops. If you do qualify for long-term private disability insurance, your policy will likely require you to apply for SSDI anyway.
For the rest of this guide, we’ll focus on SSDI and SSI because they’re the disability benefits Nebraska residents receive the most.
Skip the reading. See which benefits you qualify for in 2-minutes or less.
How to qualify for disability in Nebraska
There are medical and technical requirements you have to meet when qualifying for SSI and SSDI. The technical qualifications are different for each program, but the medical qualifications are the same.
Medical qualifications for SSDI and SSI
To medically qualify for SSI or SSDI, you’ll need to provide evidence that you have a medical condition that leaves you unable to work for at least one year, if not for the rest of your life. Some conditions are automatically approved, specifically chronic, severe, or life-threatening ones. The SSA’s compassionate allowance list details what conditions fall under these categories.
Age also plays a role in how you qualify for disability benefits. If you’re over 50, the rules are less strict. Instead of proving you can’t do any type of work (in any industry) because of your disability, you only need to show that you can’t do the type of work you’ve done before.
Technical SSDI qualifications
There are two technical criteria for SSDI applicants:
You must be younger than 66 years old.
You must have earned enough work credits during your career. Create a free account on SSA.gov to check your work credits. Generally, you’ll meet the minimum requirements if you’ve worked at least five out of the past 10 years.
You can also qualify for disability benefits if you have a mental health condition, though there are stricter requirements. The three most common mental health conditions for Nebraska residents on disability are:
Intellectual disorders: 5,632 people
Depression, bipolar disorder, and related disorders: 5,516 people
Schizophrenia and other psychotic disorders: 2,487 people
Completing all the required forms can be overwhelming, but you don’t have to do it alone. A disability lawyer will provide valuable guidance as you fill out the application, making the whole process easier and less stressful. Not only can they help you answer questions, they can fill out the forms for you and then handle SSA communications.
It’s important to give yourself enough time as you’re applying for disability benefits. Gathering the necessary documents and filling out all the forms will take longer than you’d expect. Here are steps you should take:
Gather all your personal records. The SSA wants to see medical records showing the severity of your condition, even with regular treatment. Commonly requested medical records include imaging results, treatment plans, lab results, and your doctor’s contact information.
Submit the application and all supplemental documents. Double-check that you’ve completed and submitted the necessary forms. The SSA frequently denies or delays claims based on missing information. Also make sure you don’t leave any questions blank.
Follow up with the SSA after you submit. It’s a good idea to follow up with your SSA office after submitting the application to ensure it was received. Your lawyer can do this on your behalf if you have one.
Respond to requests from the SSA immediately. If the SSA requests more documentation or information, it’s best to respond as soon as possible to avoid delays (even though you usually have 10 days to respond).
If you’re not working with a disability lawyer, applying for benefits in person is a good option. The SSA staff can’t tell you if your answers are strong or answer personal questions (that’s legal advice and only a lawyer could give that), but staff can explain what a question is asking.
We highly suggest working with a disability lawyer when you file for benefits with the SSA. They’ll work with you during the entire process, from completing the application accurately to filing appeals and representing you in a hearing — which is necessary for most applicants to receive benefits. Guidance from a disability lawyer can make each step a little less stressful and increase your chances of winning benefits.
For help finding a lawyer that’s the right fit for your case, fill out our 2-minute disability quiz. Getting matched is free and you never have to pay the lawyer anything until after you win benefits.
What happens after you apply for disability?
Once you submit your application, the SSA reviews it to check if you meet the technical requirements. For your medical requirements, the Disability Determination Services (DDS) reviews your health-related information.
Sometimes, the SSA may request an in-person interview to learn more about your case. DDS may also request that you undergo a consultative exam, which is a health exam conducted by an SSA doctor.
With all the required reviews, getting a final decision on your application takes just over six months on average.
Your chances of getting approved for benefits
When you apply for disability benefits, there’s a high likelihood that you’ll be denied initially. About 70% of initial claims are rejected. If this happens, the next step is to file for reconsideration, though around 90% of applications are denied at this stage too. Luckily, your odds increase at the next appeal stage, which is a hearing before an administrative law judge (ALJ).
A hearing offers your best chance of getting benefits approved. In 2022, 54% of people that received a hearing won benefits. With a disability lawyer by your side, you’re also three times more likely to win your case compared to if you represent yourself.
How long does it take to get disability benefits in Nebraska?
Most applicants have to go through several appeals before receiving a final decision, making the process quite lengthy. It takes more than two years, on average, for Nebraska applicants to get approval for benefits.
While the amount of time it takes for your claim to be processed varies, here are the average wait times for each stage:
Initial decision: 6.1 months (184 days)
Reconsideration decision: 6.1 months (183 days)
Time to get a hearing: 12 months (plus 1-3 more months to get a decision)
Your exact wait time for a hearing depends on your local SSA hearing office. In Nebraska, there is one local SSA office that does hearings. Here’s a look at the location and wait time (from request date to hearing date) to expect.
How to speed up the process
Aside from responding quickly to all requests from the SSA, there’s not much that speeds up the application process. However, working with a disability lawyer can help you submit a strong application and make sure you’re keeping up with deadlines. While the lengthy process will undoubtedly make you feel discouraged at times, your first check from the SSA includes back pay. This lump sum covers the time it took to get a final decision, sometimes including years worth of payment.
Your monthly benefit amount is based on your work history, income, and whether you qualify for SSDI or SSI. In some cases, you can receive both at the same time.
Average SSDI payments in Nebraska
On average, Nebraska residents get $1,274.63 per month in SSDI benefits. However, the maximum you can receive is $3,822 per month in 2024.
Even though the average benefit amount ranges from state to state, your location doesn’t impact your payment — only work history and income do. To see how much your SSDI check will be, log in to your SSA.gov account:
Find the information in the section titled “More Benefits.”
Average SSI payments in Nebraska
In Nebraska, the average SSI payment is $602.47 per month, which is slightly lower than the maximum possible payment of $943 per month in 2024.
You can expect to receive the maximum payment if you don’t have any monthly income. If you do have other monthly income, the SSA will adjust your SSI payment accordingly by determining the difference between your income and the maximum amount.
Getting help from a disability lawyer is a choice that benefits you in more ways than one. They can take care of everything application-related, from filling out forms to communicating with the SSA on your behalf. They’ll also represent you at a disability hearing if you require one. Using their expertise, you’ll have a higher chance of winning benefits.
As you’re searching for a disability lawyer in Nebraska, here are three important things to consider:
Communication: A lawyer should keep you updated throughout the different stages of the application and be willing to answer any questions you have. Although you won’t communicate with them constantly, they should be accessible when you need them.
Experience: Be cautious of lawyers that work in multiple fields of law, like workers’ comp or personal injury in addition to disability. They may not have the expertise or dedication necessary to help you win your case.
Reviews: Never hire a lawyer without looking for reviews from previous clients. Don’t just focus on negative and positive reviews, though. Even the best lawyers lose cases sometimes and sometimes a good lawyer doesn’t always win because they’re more willing to take on challenging cases. Instead, look for patterns in the reviews. If multiple people mention poor communication or repeated negative interactions, that’s a bad sign.
At Atticus, we understand that finding a good lawyer is overwhelming and time-consuming. That’s why we’ve done the hard work of researching firms across the country for you. We match you with an experienced disability lawyer who will treat you respectfully and as a priority. Best of all, our services are free and you only ever pay the lawyer if they win your case. Get started by filling out our disability quiz. We’ll reach out to learn more about your situation.
Ready to get benefits today?
Frequently asked questions about benefits in Nebraska
What qualifies you for disability in Nebraska?
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 Nebraska?
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 Nebraska?
It takes an average of 6.1 months to get an initial disability decision in Nebraska. 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 Nebraska?
The average SSDI payment in Nebraska is $1,274.63 per month. The average SSI payment is $602.47 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 Nebraska?
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 Nebraska have a state disability program?
No, Nebraska 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 Nebraska can apply for federal disability programs (SSDI and SSI). Read more about SSDI and SSI here.
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