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West Virginia Disability Benefits: Qualify, Apply, and Get Approved

Written by
Jackie Jakab, Disability Attorney
Jackie Jakab
Lead Attorney
April 27, 2023  ·  8 min read
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Nearly 100,000 people who live in West Virginia received disability benefits from the Social Security Administration (SSA) in 2022. While the application process may seem daunting, they’re proof that it is doable.

To help West Virginia residents complete the application and win benefits, this guide will explain who’s eligible for benefits, how the application process works, and the potential value of your monthly benefits.


What West Virginia disability program should I apply for?

There is no state-run disability program in West Virginia. However, West Virginia residents can either apply for benefits through the federal government or get a policy from a private insurer. If you live in West Virginia, you may qualify for the following programs:

  1. Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI): The federal government administers SSDI.  This program is available to people who’ve worked for years but can’t continue working because of a health condition. The income you’ve earned and the taxes you’ve paid will factor into your SSDI payment, which is why SSDI has the largest payment of any disability program. Medicare health insurance is also included. If you’ve worked at least five of the last 10 years, you’re more likely to meet the SSDI qualifications.

  2. Supplemental Security Income (SSI): The federal government reserves SSI for people with limited income and assets. People who’ve never worked or haven’t worked recently enough to qualify for SSDI, including children and older Americans, may also be eligible. SSI includes Medicaid coverage.

  3. Veterans disability benefits: Active-duty and retired veterans who can’t work because of an injury they sustained during their military service can qualify for benefits through the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). You can receive benefits from SSDI and SSI alongside VA benefits. Learn more about how Atticus can help you with veterans disability benefits.

  4. Long-term or short-term private disability insurance: Many employers off these plans, but you can also purchase one directly from a private insurer. You can file a claim if you had the policy before you had to stop working. Your payments will usually cover up to 60% of your former paychecks and may last months or years depending on your plan. Even if you have a long-term private disability plan, your insurer will require you to apply for SSDI.

Most West Virginians with disabilities will qualify for SSDI or SSI, which is why this guide will help you apply for either of those programs. Learn more about the other programs in 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 West Virginia

Before you qualify for disability, the SSA checks whether you meet their technical and medical criteria. The medical requirements for SSDI and SSI are the same, but their technical requirements differ.

Medical qualifications for disability benefits

The most important medical qualification for both SSDI and SSI is that your disability or medical condition makes it impossible for you to work. Your doctor will need to confirm both that you have the condition and that they expect it to affect you for at least one more year (or for the rest of your life).

If you have a terminal condition, you can more easily qualify for benefits through the SSA’s compassionate allowance list.

Your age will also impact the approval process. If you’re over the age of 50, you’ll more easily qualify for disability because you only have to prove that it’s impossible for you to keep doing the kinds of work you already do.

It’s harder to qualify if you’re under the age of 50 because you have to prove that your condition leaves you unable to do any kind of work, even roles that would require you to retrain.

Technical SSDI qualifications

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

  1. You’re 66 years old or younger (below your full retirement age).

  2. You meet SSA 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.

Learn more about SSDI technical rules.

Technical SSI qualifications

To qualify for SSI, you must meet two income and asset limits:

  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.


Conditions that qualify for disability in West Virginia

There are many qualifying health conditions according to the SSA. While some are more common than others, someone can receive disability benefits as long as their condition makes it impossible for them to work and will do so for at least a year.

According to SSA data, these are the most common conditions among West Virginia disability benefits recipients:

  • Musculoskeletal disorders: 33.4%

  • Mental health conditions: 29.7%

  • Neurological (nervous system) disorders: 8.5%

  • Cardiovascular (circulatory system) disorders: 7.2%

  • Respiratory conditions: 4.2%

  • Injuries: 4.1%

  • Endocrine disorders: 3.1%

  • Cancers (neoplasms): 2.8%

  • Digestive system disorders: 1.6%

  • Genitourinary disorders (kidney disease): 1%

  • Infectious and parasitic diseases: 0.6%

  • Congenital anomalies (birth defects): 0.3%

  • Hematological (blood) disorders: 0.2%

  • Skin conditions: 0.2%

  • Other qualifying conditions: 0.2%

For West Virginians with mental health conditions, these are the most common:

  • Intellectual disorders: 9,666 people

  • Depression, bipolar disorder, and related disorders: 8,627 people

  • Neurocognitive disorders: 2,331 people

For more, start with this article on how to qualify for disability with a mental health condition.


How to apply for disability in West Virginia

To apply for disability, start by completing the main SSI and SSDI application form. You’ll need to complete a work history report, which explains your work experience and a function report, which explains the impact your condition has on your day-to-day activities. The SSA may also request other forms or medical information to help them process your application.

To complete the application, you have two options: fill it out yourself, or get help from a disability lawyer. We’ve also gathered advice for anyone planning to apply for disability on behalf of a child or apply for another loved one.

How should I prepare my application?

Start by setting aside plenty of time. Plan for at least one to two hours to complete the initial application, plus additional time beforehand to gather the necessary materials. Your lawyer can handle most of the process, but there are a few key steps you should consider:

  • 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. The more medical documentation you have, the better.

  • Make sure to fill out the whole application. Before you submit, always make sure you answered every question on every form. This will help you avoid processing delays.

  • Answer questions honestly and consistently. The SSA will verify that the responses on your application match information in your medical and supplemental forms. Be realistic and honest about the limitations of your condition, including pain levels and symptoms.

  • Follow up with the SSA right after you submit. Talk to someone at the SSA to verify that they’ve received and are processing your application.

  • Respond to SSA requests immediately. You’ll have 10 days to respond, but responding faster helps prevent processing delays.

Get more help in this guide to starting the disability application.

3 ways to submit your application

You have three options for submitting your application:

  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.

While applying online may be quickest, consider applying in person if you don’t work with a lawyer. The SSA workers can help you understand what the application questions are asking. It’s important to note, though, that they can’t give you personalized advice. Only a lawyer can strengthen your responses or recommend which details to include and exclude.

Learn more: What Does a Disability Lawyer Actually Do?

Getting help with the application

Working with a lawyer is your best option if you want help applying. They can actually strengthen your responses and increase your odds of approval. They can even fill out the application for you and handle all communications with the SSA, which makes a stressful process much easier to manage.

We at Atticus are a law firm, which means we can provide legal advice on filling out your application and finding the right lawyer for your case. To get help today, fill out our free 2-minute disability benefits quiz.


What happens after I apply for disability?

After you apply, your application will be under review. The SSA will verify that you meet the technical criteria for either SSDI, SSI, or both. Disability Determination Services (DDS) will confirm your medical eligibility.

The SSA may request a phone interview and DDS may also request a quick consultative exam with one of its doctors. The SSA will then make a decision on your application. While this may sound simple, the average wait time is six months for a decision on your application, as of the start of 2023.


Your chances of getting approved for benefits

Getting approved for disability is challenging. Don’t let that keep you from applying, but know going in that you will likely go through a few stages of denial and appeal before you win benefits.

The SSA rejects about 70% of applications. Those applicants can then file for reconsideration. But even then, the SSA rejects 90% of applications. If you do get rejected, you can appeal and request a hearing with an administrative law judge (ALJ).

While a hearing may not seem ideal, you’ll actually have the best odds of approval at this stage. More than half of the applicants who appealed their case in front of a judge in 2022 won their claim. Applicants who work with a lawyer at the hearing stage are also three times more likely to win benefits.

Learn more about the chances of winning your disability appeal.


How long does it take to get disability benefits in West Virginia?

As of March 2023, applicants in West Virginia wait an average of 26 months — just over two years — from the time they apply until the time they’re approved. This is close to the average wait for the country as a whole.

The long wait is due to the multiple rounds of appeal that most applicants go through. Here are the average wait times for each stage in West Virginia:

  • Initial decision: 6.1 months (184 days)

  • Reconsideration decision: 6.1 months (183 days)

  • Wait time for a hearing: 13.7 months (plus 1-3 months to get a decision)

That said, wait times do vary by hearing office. Which office handles your claim could greatly change the length of your appeal. There are three hearing offices in West Virginia and you can see their wait times below:

Hearing office

Wait time for a hearing

Charleston

13 months

Huntington

16 months

Morgantown

12 months

How to speed up the process

There is no way to speed up the process, but you can prevent delays. Submit your application as soon as you can, then stay in touch with the SSA. Responding quickly to document requests can help you avoid any processing delays. Your lawyer can also move things along by communicating with the SSA and filing your appeals.

The good news is that the SSA will compensate you for the wait. Your first check will include back pay benefits, which cover the 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 West Virginia?

Disability benefits are different for every recipient. SSDI and SSI have different maximum payments, so your actual benefit amount will vary based on which program you qualify for — or if you get benefits from both programs at the same time.

Average SSDI payments in West Virginia

In 2023, SSDI has a maximum monthly payment of $3,627. West Virginia residents on disability receive an average of $1,344.70 per month.

It’s important to note that where you live and your specific medical condition won’t impact your benefit amount. Instead, the SSA will consider your personal income and how much you’ve paid into Social Security to determine your check size.

To find out how much your benefits will be, use your SSA.gov account:

  • Visit the SSA’s mySocialSecurity page.

  • Log in or create an account with your Social Security number (SSN).

  • Scroll down to the section titled “More Benefits.”

For a more in-depth look, here’s how SSDI payments are calculated.

Average SSI payments in West Virginia

In 2024, the maximum monthly payment for SSI is $943. That said, West Virginians receive an average of $620.09 per month.

Your current monthly income will have the biggest impact on your benefit amount. The SSA subtracts any money coming in each month from the monthly maximum. (Learn what counts as income for SSI.) That means that if you have no other income, your SSA checks would be $943.

Estimate your disability benefit amount in just a few steps

We'll use the Social Security Administration's formula to estimate your monthly benefit.

Average
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$1,489


How to find a disability lawyer in West Virginia

Applying for SSDI and SSI isn’t easy, but working with a disability lawyer can make the process much easier to navigate. Your lawyer can manage your appeals, follow up with the SSA, and represent you during a court hearing. This makes the application process less stressful, but it can also make you more likely to get approved.

As you search for a West Virginia disability lawyer, consider the following factors:

  • Reviews: While you do want to see positive reviews, what you’re really looking for is patterns. If multiple people have similar, negative feedback about that lawyer, that’s a sign they may not provide the support you need. Even the best lawyers don’t win every case, but you should choose a lawyer who’s respectful and responsive.

  • Communication: You may not hear from your lawyer every week or even every month, especially while you’re waiting for the SSA to process your application. But your lawyer should be easy to get a hold of, whether you have a question or the SSA has a request.

  • Primary area of practice: Social Security benefits cases are unique. There are a lot of skilled lawyers out there, but lawyers who specialize in disability benefits are more likely to help you win your claim.

  • Location (to an extent): Lawyers who live local to your hearing office sometimes know the judges and their tendencies. This can help them make your case, but keep in mind that the Social Security disability rules are the same in every state. Don’t dismiss a remote lawyer who consults over the phone. A good remote lawyer is better than a bad local lawyer.

Atticus can help you find an experienced lawyer who will make your case a priority and treat you with respect. Start with our free disability 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 West Virginia

How do I qualify for disability in West Virginia?

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 West Virginia?

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 West Virginia?

It takes an average of 6.1 months to get an initial disability decision in West Virginia. 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 West Virginia?

The average SSDI payment in West Virginia is $1,344.70 per month. The average SSI payment is $620.09 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 West Virginia?

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 West Virginia have a state disability program?

No, West Virginia 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 West Virginia can apply for the federal disability programs of 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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