Nevada Disability Benefits: Qualify, Apply, and Get Approved
June 3, 2023 · 9 min read
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The Social Security Administration (SSA) provided disability benefits for nearly 70,000 Nevada residents in 2022. Like them, you can successfully complete the application and win benefits, even if the application process seems daunting now. To help, this guide will explain who is eligible for benefits, how the application process works, and the monthly benefit payments you may receive.
What Nevada disability program should I apply for?
There is no Nevada state disability program, but you can still qualify for one of the federal government’s disability programs or purchase a policy from a private insurance company. Here are the disability programs you may be able to qualify for:
Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI): The federal government administers SSDI. This program is for people who’ve worked for years but have a medical condition that makes it impossible for them to continue. If you’ve worked at least five of the last 10 years, you’re more likely to meet SSDI’s eligibility requirements. SSDI also has the largest benefit amounts of any program, which are based on the income you’ve earned and the taxes you’ve paid. SSDI comes with health insurance through Medicare.
Supplemental Security Income (SSI): The federal government also administers SSI. This program is for children, older Americans, and people who’ve never worked or haven’t worked enough to qualify for SSDI. You must have limited income and assets to meet the program’s requirements. SSI also comes with Medicaid.
Veterans disability benefits: Active duty and retired veterans can qualify for benefits through the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), but only if they can’t work because of an injury they sustained in the line of duty. You can receive VA benefits while you receive benefits through SSDI and SSI. Learn more about VA benefits.
Long-term and short-term private disability insurance: Employers and private insurers both offer private disability plans, but you must have the plan before you stop working. If you do qualify, you could receive months or years of payments worth up to 60% of your former paychecks. Your insurer may require you to apply for SSDI even if you’re eligible to receive your plan’s long-term benefits.
Most Nevada residents with disabilities will qualify for either SSDI or SSI, so the remainder of this guide will help you apply for those programs. To learn more about the other programs, read our guide to the types of disability benefits.
Skip the reading. See which benefits you qualify for in 2-minutes or less.
How to qualify for disability in Nevada
You’ll need to meet certain medical and technical criteria to qualify for disability benefits. SSDI and SSI have the same medical requirements, but their technical requirements are different.
Medical qualifications for disability benefits
SSDI and SSI both require you to meet two medical qualifications: You must have a disability or medical condition that makes it impossible for you to work, and that condition must persist for at least one year.
The SSA will require extensive medical documentation from your doctors and other healthcare providers to confirm your diagnosis. If you have certain severe or terminal conditions, you can use the SSA’s compassionate allowance list to more quickly qualify for benefits.
The SSA takes your age into consideration as well. If you’re over age 50, it’s easier to qualify because you only need proof that you can’t continue doing the types of jobs you’ve already done in your career. For applicants under age 50, the SSA must be able to verify that your condition leaves you unable to do any kind of work — even if you 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 have enough work credits. You earn work credits by paying Social Security taxes and you’re more likely to have enough if you’ve worked at least five of the last 10 years. You can see how many work credits you have by creating a free account on SSA.gov.
The SSA does have a list of qualifying health conditions for which they commonly award benefits. But even if your condition is not on that list, you can still receive benefits as long as your condition keeps you from being able to work and will do so for at least a year.
According to recent SSA data, Nevada residents who receive disability benefits most commonly have the following types of conditions:
Musculoskeletal disorders: 32.4%
Mental health conditions: 30%
Neurological (nervous system) disorders: 11%
Cardiovascular (circulatory system) disorders: 7%
Cancers (neoplasms): 3%
Respiratory conditions: 2.4%
Endocrine disorders: 2.3%
Genitourinary disorders (kidney disease): 2.2%
Digestive system disorders: 1.6%
Infectious and parasitic diseases: 1.2%
Congenital anomalies (birth defects): 0.5%
Hematological (blood) disorders: 0.3%
Skin conditions: 0.3%
Other qualifying conditions: 0.3%
For Nevadans who receive disability for a mental health condition, these are the most common:
Depression, bipolar disorder, and related disorders: 7,156 people
Intellectual disorders: 3,922 people
Schizophrenia and other psychotic disorders: 3,543 people
To apply, start by filling out the main SSI and SSDI application form. Then you’ll need to fill out some supplementary forms. For example, you’ll need to detail your work experience in a work history report plus how your condition impacts your daily life in a function report. The SSA may request more forms or medical information as they review your application.
You can fill out all these forms yourself or you can work with a disability lawyer, who can fill out the forms with you and help you give the best answers possible.
Set aside plenty of time to prepare your application. It can easily take you one to two hours to complete the initial application. Also factor in time to gather the required documents and records. A lawyer can help you with the majority of the application process, but here are the key steps to be aware of:
Prepare all your personal records before applying. This includes medical records, treatment forms, bank account information, work and income history, and contact information for your healthcare providers. The more documentation you can submit the better.
Make sure to fill out the whole application. If you haven’t answered every question or every form, your application may hit processing delays.
Answer questions honestly and consistently. Your medical records and supplemental forms must match the responses you give in your application. Be honest about how your condition impacts you, including pain levels and symptoms. The SSA will also look for inconsistencies in your answers.
Follow up with the SSA right after you submit. Get in touch to confirm that they’ve received and are processing your application. Your lawyer can also do this.
Respond to SSA requests immediately. The SSA will give you 10 days to respond, but following up faster will help you avoid delays.
While applying online may be quicker, applying in person is a helpful option if you choose not to work with a lawyer. The SSA employees can answer questions you have and clarify what the application questions are asking. That said, they can’t give you personalized advice. Only a lawyer can advise you on how to make your responses stronger or which information to include and exclude.
Working with a lawyer is one of the best ways to get help with the application. A good lawyer can increase your odds of approval because they can complete the application with you, strengthen your responses, communicate with the SSA on your behalf, and represent you during appeals (which most people go through). A lawyer also won’t charge anything upfront and you never have to pay anything unless you actually win benefits.
Once you apply, your application will go through multiple reviews. The SSA will verify that you meet the technical requirements for SSDI or SSI. If it does, Disability Determination Services (DDS) will confirm your medical eligibility. You may be asked to complete a phone interview with the SSA or attend a quick consultative exam with a DDS doctor.
Disability application reviews take an average of six months, as of early 2023.
Your chances of getting approved for benefits
Getting approved for benefits is challenging. Don’t let that scare you, but do be prepared to go through a few rounds of denial and appeal before the SSA issues a final decision on your claim.
Roughly 70% of first-time applications get rejected. If you’re one of them, you can file for reconsideration. Be aware, though, that the SSA rejects 90% of those reconsiderations. You can then appeal to request a hearing with an administrative law judge (ALJ).
Appearing in front of a judge can be positive for your case. More than half of the applicants who appealed their case in front of a judge won their claim in 2022. Working with a lawyer at the hearing stage can also make you three times more likely to win benefits.
How long does it take to get disability benefits in Nevada?
As of March 2023, Nevadans waited an average of 27 months — a little over two years — from the time they applied until the time they were approved. This is similar to the average wait in the United States.
Most applicants have such long wait times because they have to navigate multiple stages of appeal. In Nevada, the average wait times for each stage are:
Initial decision: 6.1 months (184 days)
Reconsideration decision: 6.1 months (183 days)
Wait time for a hearing: 15 months (plus 1-3 months to get a decision)
That said, wait times vary by hearing office and how long you actually wait will depend on which office handles your case. These are the wait times at the two Nevada hearing offices:
Wait time for a hearing
How to speed up the process
There is no way to speed up the process, but you can avoid delays. Submit your application as soon as possible, then immediately get in touch with the SSA. You can also avoid processing delays by responding quickly to any of the SSA’s requests. Your lawyer can keep your application moving by communicating with the SSA and staying on top of your appeals.
The silver lining is that you will be compensated for the wait. Your first disability check will include disability back pay, which covers the amount of benefits you would’ve received if you’d been approved earlier instead of having to appeal and wait.
There is no one disability benefits amount in Nevada. The size of your monthly check will depend on your work history (for SSDI) and your monthly income (for SSI). It is also possible to receive benefits from SSDI and SSI at the same time.
Average SSDI payment in Nevada
The maximum monthly SSDI payment is $3,822 in 2024. The average Nevada resident receives a little less than half that amount, at $1,430.04 per month.
Where you live and your specific medical condition won’t affect your benefit amount. The SSA will determine your monthly check by evaluating your income history and how much you’ve paid into Social Security.
You can find out exactly how much your benefits will be before you apply through your SSA.gov account:
On average, disability recipients in Nevada receive a payment of $672.68 per month, but the SSA’s monthly maximum for 2024 is $943.
The SSA will consider your current monthly income to determine your SSI benefit amount. Any money that comes in each month will be subtracted from the maximum SSI payment. That means that if you have no other income, you will receive $943 per month from SSI.
The application process for SSDI and SSI is intense, but a lawyer can greatly simplify the process. Your lawyer can handle appeals, follow up with the SSA, and represent you during court hearings. This takes a lot of the stress off your shoulders. It’s also part of why applicants with lawyers are more likely to get approved.
As you look for a Nevada disability lawyer, consider the following factors:
Reviews: Positive reviews are always a good sign. When it comes to negative reviews, don’t dismiss a lawyer over a few bad reviews, but do look for patterns. If they have lots of similar, negative feedback, the lawyer may not be a good fit for you. A lawyer won’t win every case, but they should be respectful and responsive.
Communication: You may not hear from your lawyer often while the SSA processes your application, but you should be able to easily get a hold of them as your case moves forward.
Primary area of practice: Social Security disability law is unique. While there are many skilled lawyers, it’s best to find a lawyer who specializes in disability benefits.
Location (to an extent): Social Security disability rules are the same in every state. A local lawyer may know a judge’s preferences, but a remote lawyer who consults over the phone can still be effective. A good remote lawyer is better than an unskilled local lawyer.
Atticus can help you find an experienced lawyer who will make you and your case a priority. Start with our free disability benefits quiz and we’ll find you a qualified match. You’ll still get to choose whether to work with our lawyers, and you won’t pay anything until after you win benefits.
Ready to get benefits today?
Frequently asked questions about benefits in Nevada
How do I qualify for disability in Nevada?
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 Nevada?
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 Nevada?
It takes an average of 6.1 months to get an initial disability decision in Nevada. 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 Nevada?
The average SSDI payment in Nevada is $1,430.04 per month. The average SSI payment is $672.68 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 Nevada?
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 Nevada have a state disability program?
No, there is no Nevada state disability program. Only five states (California, Hawaii, New Jersey, New York, and Rhode Island) have a state program. Residents of Nevada can apply for the federal disability programs of SSDI and SSI. Read more about the differences between SSDI and SSI here.
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