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There are more than 14,000 Wyoming residents receiving disability benefits through the Social Security Administration (SSA). And while the application process may seem overwhelming, you’re not the only one going through it. This guide will break down what you need to know about qualifying for benefits, starting the application process, and determining the potential benefits you can receive.
Unfortunately, Wyoming does not have a state disability program. However, residents can still apply for federal and private disability plans. Below are the four most common disability programs that someone can qualify for in Wyoming:
1. Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI): SSDI is a federal program that supports Americans who have worked before but no longer can because of a medical condition or illness. The longer you’ve worked and paid taxes, the more likely you will qualify for SSDI. A lengthy work and taxpayer history may also lead to larger benefit checks.
2. Supplemental Security Income (SSI): SSI is a federal program for people with limited income and assets. It’s also an option for people who don’t have an extensive work history or haven’t worked recently enough to qualify for SSDI. It uses the same application as SSDI.
3. Veterans disability benefits: Active and retired veterans can receive disability benefits through the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) if they are injured during their military service and can’t work because of it. To learn more about these benefits, visit the VA’s disability benefits website.
4. Long-term or short-term private disability insurance: You may have access to a private insurance plan if you purchased a plan before your disability left you unable to work. These policies are usually provided by employers but you can buy them independently. If you have a private disability plan, you’ll need to file a claim with your insurer to receive benefits. Your payments will be a portion of your former paychecks (often up to 60%) and may last months or years. Check your individual plan details to see the specifics.
The remainder of this guide will cover only SSDI and SSI, as they’re the most common type of disability benefits that Wyoming residents qualify for. Additionally, people receiving VA benefits can still qualify for Social Security disability and even if you have a private program, your insurer may require you to apply for SSDI or SSI anyway.
Related article: A Breakdown of the Types of Disability Benefits
Qualifying for SSI or SSDI means meeting specific medical and technical requirements. While both programs have the same medical requirements, technical requirements vary by program.
To qualify medically for disability benefits, you must have a disability or medical condition that leaves you unable to work. The condition must also be expected to continue for at least for one more year, including conditions that will last for the rest of your life. Terminal conditions do qualify under the SSA’s compassionate allowance list.
If you’re under age 50, you’ll need to show the SSA that your health condition makes it impossible for you to do any job. The disability qualification rules are easier after age 50 because you only need to prove you can’t continue doing the same work you’ve been doing.
To qualify for SSDI, you must meet two basic criteria:
Learn more about SSDI eligibility.
There are two criteria you must meet to qualify for SSI:
Learn more about SSI eligibility.
If you have a medical condition that leaves you unable to work and is expected to continue for at least a year, it may qualify you for Social Security disability benefits.
Data released by the SSA in 2022 shows the following are the most common conditions among disability benefit recipients in Wyoming:
Looking most closely at mental health, below are the three most common conditions to qualify:
Learn more in our full guide to what conditions qualify for disability benefits.
To apply for benefits, you need to fill out the main disability application and supplemental forms. Two other forms you’ll need to complete are the work history report to describe your previous work experience and the function report to explain how your health conditions affect your day-to-day functioning.
You can certainly apply on your own, but getting assistance from a disability lawyer can greatly simplify the process. We’ve also gathered advice on applying for disability benefits for your child or for another loved one.
It’s important to allocate enough time to complete your disability application. With all the required materials, it might take longer than you’d think. A lawyer can help you manage all the documentation you must keep track of to apply but you should still take some key steps:
For more help, here’s our step-by-step guide to starting the disability application.
There are three ways to file the disability benefits forms:
Applying in person is a great choice if you don’t choose to work with a lawyer because the SSA staff can advise you on how to answer the application questions accurately. They can’t give you personalized legal advice on the strength of your answers, though. If you do have a lawyer, they can handle submitting your application.
Read more about how a lawyer can help your application.
If you want help filing for disability, we recommend talking with a disability lawyer. They can fill out the application for you and communicate accordingly with the SSA — taking the burden off your shoulders. At Atticus, we can provide free legal advice on filling out your application or finding the right lawyer for your case. Fill out our 2-minute disability quiz to get started.
After you submit your first application, the SSA will review your application to see if you meet the technical requirements. Then Disability Determination Services (DDS) will check your medical eligibility. DDS will likely request a consultative exam at some point, where an SSA doctor performs a quick exam. From there, the SSA will make a decision on your application. Note that the process can take many months.
While some applications are accepted upon first review, around 70% are rejected. At that point, the next step is to file for reconsideration. However, over 90% of reconsidered applications are also rejected. When this happens, you’re eligible to appeal the decision and receive a hearing in front of an administrative law judge (ALJ).
Participating in a hearing gets you the highest chance at acceptance. More than 50% of people who went before a judge in 2022 won benefits. Applicants who work with a lawyer are also three times more likely to get benefits.
Learn more about the odds of winning your disability appeal.
Because most applicants must go through multiple rounds of appeal, the average disability application takes more than two years to get approved
In 2022, the average wait time to receive an initial decision was 6.1 months (184 days). For reconsideration requests, applicants had to wait an additional 4.9 months (147 days). From there, how long it takes to get a hearing depends on which SSA office handles your application. The nationwide wide average wait time to get a hearing is about 13.7 months. All told, Wyoming applicants can expect to wait about 2.6 years from the time they apply until the time they’re approved.
Since the application process takes so long, it’s important to submit your application as soon as possible. And while you can’t do much to speed up the process, responding to SSA requests quickly will prevent any additional delays. A lawyer can also help you stay on track throughout the process by handling appeals in a timely manner.
One silver lining is that once you are approved, your first check from the SSA will include back pay benefits for months or even years of payments.
Related: How to Find a Good Disability Lawyer Near You
The amount of your disability check depends on the type of benefits you receive. In some cases, it’s also possible to receive SSDI and SSI at the same time.
The most recent SSA data shows that the average monthly SSDI benefit for Wyoming citizens is $1,365.71. That’s similar to the national average but lower than the maximum possible payment of around $3,600 in 2023.
While payment amounts vary from state to state, geographic location isn’t a determining factor in how much you’ll receive each month. Your income and work history are most important.
You can figure out what your SSDI check will be through your SSA.gov account:
In Wyoming, the monthly average SSI payment is $548.06. The maximum amount you can receive from SSI is $914 per month in 2023.
Figuring out your personal payment involves looking at your current monthly income. The SSA subtracts the money you bring in each month — such as part-time work earnings and stock earnings — from the maximum amount. If you have no other income, your SSI checks will be $914 per month.
Still have questions? Read more about how SSI and SSDI benefits are calculated.
Working with a disability lawyer can save you time, money, and stress when submitting your SSI and SSDI application. They handle communicating with the SSA, filing appeals, and any court proceedings. If your case requires a hearing, your lawyer will work to help you make the best possible case before a judge. For example, they can cross-examine witnesses. Having a lawyer can also increase your chances of winning benefits.
As you’re searching for a disability lawyer in Wyoming, consider these important factors before making your final decision:
Finding a good lawyer is a challenge. Atticus can make the process easier by matching you with someone who’s a good fit for your claim — for free! Our team has spent years vetting disability lawyers to find the best people who will treat you with priority and respect. If you want help finding a lawyer, fill out our disability quiz to get started.
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