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  1. What Alabama disability program should I apply for? 
  2. How to qualify for disability in Alabama
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  5. How much is disability in Alabama?
  6. Disability lawyers in Alabama: How to find the right attorney
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Disability in Alabama: How to Qualify, Apply, and Win Benefits

Written by
Jackie Jakab, Disability Attorney
Jackie Jakab
Lead Attorney
December 1, 2022  ·  4 min read

More than 200,000 Alabama residents receive Social Security disability benefits, an increase from years past. But while this assistance can help make ends meet during difficult times, the application process is often time-consuming and confusing.

We’ve created this guide to help you understand if you qualify for benefits, how the application process works, and how much benefits might be worth for you. 

What Alabama disability program should I apply for? 

There is no statewide disability program in Alabama. Instead, you’ll need to apply for federal programs or private disability benefits. Below are descriptions of the four most common disability programs.

  1. Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI): SSDI supports people across America who have worked for years but can no longer work due to a medical condition. This program is run by the Social Security Administration (SSA), a government entity. The longer you’ve worked and paid taxes, the more likely you are to qualify for SSDI and the larger your benefits checks will be.
  2. Supplemental Security Income (SSI): If you don’t have a long or recent work history, SSI is an option. It’s a federal program like SSDI and they even use the same application. However, SSI is geared toward people with limited income and assets.
  3. Long-term or Short-term private disability Insurance: Disability insurance policies are often provided by employers or purchased by individuals before an injury or illness. If you have one of these policies, you can file a claim with your private insurer. Usually, they will pay out a percentage of your former paychecks for a set number of months; your policy details determine this. 
  4. Veterans disability benefits: Veterans are eligible for disability benefits through the Department of Veterans Affairs if they’ve served in the military but suffered an injury that’s left them unable to work. Retired veterans with a medical condition due to their service can also apply. To learn more, visit the VA’s disability benefits website

This remainder of this guide will cover only SSDI and SSI, as they’re the most common type of disability benefits that Alabamans qualify for. Even if you apply for the other programs, you may still need to apply for SSDI or SSI.

How to qualify for disability in Alabama

To qualify for SSDI or SSI, you must meet medical and technical requirements. The medical requirements are the same for both programs, but each has different work and income qualifications.

Conditions that qualify for disability in Alabama

If you have a health condition that leaves you unable to work and it’s expected to continue for at least one year, you may qualify for Social Security disability benefits.

Based on SSA data released in 2022, the most common conditions to qualify for disability benefits in Alabama (as a percentage of benefits recipients) were:

  • Congenital anomalies: 0.4%
  • Endocrine, nutritional, and metabolic diseases : 3.1% 
  • Infectious and parasitic diseases: 0.9% 
  • Injuries: 3.8% 
  • Mental Disorders: 28.4% 
  • Neoplasms: 2.3% 
  • Diseases of the blood and blood-forming organs: 0.3% 
  • Diseases of the circulatory system: 7.8%
  • Diseases of the digestive system: 1.3% 
  • Diseases of the genito-urinary system: 1.5% 
  • Diseases of the musculoskeletal system and connective tissue: 36.2% 
  • Diseases of the nervous system and sense organs: 9.2% 
  • Diseases of the respiratory system: 2.4% 
  • Diseases of the skin and subcutaneous tissue: 0.3%
  • Other types of mental or physical disorders: 0.3% 
  • Unknown: 1.9%

Mental health conditions can also qualify for benefits. A few of the most common mental health disorders were:

  • Intellectual disorders: 19,754 people
  • Depressive, bipolar, and related disorders: 23,046 people
  • Schizophrenia spectrum and other psychotic disorders: 8,462 people

Learn more about what conditions qualify for disability benefits.

Technical SSDI qualifications

To qualify for SSDI, you must:

  • Be under 67 years old.
  • Meet work credit requirements. These are based on age and can be determined through your SSA.gov account. In most cases, people qualify if they have worked five out of the last 10 years.

Learn more about SSDI eligibility.

Technical SSI qualifications

To qualify for SSI, you must: 

  • Have minimal assets, such as personal or retirement savings — less than $2,000 for single applicants and $3,000 for married individuals.
  • Have little to no income, which usually means less than $1,000 per month.

Learn more about SSI eligibility.

How to apply for disability in Alabama

When you apply for disability benefits, there is a main application form plus supplementary forms that ask for information on your work history, day-to-day functioning, and any treatment you receive for your condition. You can fill out these forms on your own, though you can also get professional help from a disability lawyer.

How to submit an application

There are three ways to file your disability benefits application: 

  1. Apply online through the SSA website
  2. Apply over the phone by calling (800) 772-1213 
  3. Apply in person at your local SSA office

If you aren’t working with a lawyer, applying in person may be a good option for you. While the SSA staff can’t give you legal advice, they can advise you on how to accurately answer the application questions.

How should I prepare my application? 

Preparing your disability application takes longer than you’d think because there are so many moving parts. A lawyer can help you keep track of these, helping to make sure you have everything you need to apply.

However, if you’re applying on your own, below are some of the things you need to do.

  • Gather your records. Medical records, contact information for doctors or medical providers, work history, education records, bank account information, and other documents are all required for an application.
  • Submit the application and include supplemental documents and forms. As you’re filling out the forms, it’s essential to be specific and realistic about your limitations and pain levels. Being consistent with your answers between forms is also key because they often ask similar questions.
  • Follow up with the SSA right after you submit. It’s easy for applications to get lost because of the massive amount of submissions the SSA receives. Reach out to them soon after you submit to confirm that they’ve received and are processing your application.
  • Respond to any requests from SSA immediately. If any supplemental information is required or you are asked to see an SSA doctor, you typically have 10 days to provide documentation.

A lawyer, if you have one, can fill out an application for you and then confirm receipt with the SSA. If you’d like more advice on filling out the initial application or finding the right lawyer, Atticus can provide free legal advice. Fill out our 2-minute disability quiz to get started

What happens after I apply?

Some applications are accepted after the first review, but around 70% of people are rejected and have to file for reconsideration. A high number of these reconsidered applications (over 90%) are also rejected. At that point you can request a hearing in front of a judge. 

Applicants who take part in a hearing have the highest acceptance rate, with nearly 50% of people being approved for benefits. Your chance of approval also increases if you have a lawyer.

Here’s a glimpse of what to expect at a hearing.

How long does it take to get disability benefits in Alabama?

Because applications are frequently denied initially, it can take years for you to get a final decision from the SSA.

In 2022, it took an average of 5.5 months, or 165 days, for applicants to receive an initial decision. To process a reconsideration request, applicants had to wait another 4.9 months (147 days). Then, the average wait time to get a hearing in Alabama was 12.25 months. But depending on which office is handling the hearing, that wait time could be between 10 and 14 months.

The time you wait for your hearing depends on your SSA hearing office. Here’s a breakdown of the wait times by office.

Hearing office

Wait time for a hearing


14 months


12 months


10 months


13 months

Sending requested documentation to the SSA as quickly as possible is the only way to speed up this process. It’s important to meet deadlines and assemble the required paperwork as fast as possible. Your lawyer will help you stay on track and call to confirm the SSA has the necessary information.

How much is disability in Alabama?

The amount of your disability check depends on which type of benefits you receive.

Average SSDI payments in Alabama

According to the most recent SSA data, the average monthly SSDI benefit Alabama residents receive is $1,333.89 — about $50 higher than the national average. However, your exact SSDI benefit check depends on your work history and the maximum possible SSDI benefit is about $3,600 in 2023.

You can figure out what your potential SSDI paycheck will be on your SSA.gov account. To create an account,

  • Visit SSA.gov
  • Click “mySocialSecurity”
  • Create an account using your Social Security number (SSN)
  • Scroll down to the section titled “Disability”

Average SSI payments in Alabama

The average monthly SSI payment in Alabama is $558.17, just below the national average.

The maximum anyone can receive from SSI in any state is $914 per month in 2023. To determine the amount of your SSI check, the SSA subtracts any other monthly income you have — such as SNAP benefits, stock earnings, and money from part-time work — from this max amount.

Disability lawyers in Alabama: How to find the right attorney

A disability lawyer can save you from making critical mistakes while filling out your SSI or SSDI application. If your case requires a hearing, they will cross-examine witnesses, act as your advocate, and help you make the best possible case before a judge. Your chances of winning benefits are three times higher with a lawyer than without.

When you’re searching for an Alabama disability lawyer, consider these important points before hiring one:

  • Reviews: Always look at the content of the lawyer’s reviews when possible. While a few bad reviews aren’t a major red flag, consistently negative comments are a sign that the lawyer isn’t what you want.
  • Primary area of practice: You want a lawyer specializing in disability benefits. Confirm this in your initial conversation to ensure they have the appropriate understanding for your case.
  • Location (to an extent): You don’t need a lawyer who lives in your immediate area, though a lawyer who handles cases in your area may be a benefit because they’re more familiar with the local judges.
  • Communication: Look for a lawyer who communicates well and gives you reliable ways to contact them. Whether you talk to your lawyer through email, over the phone, or in person, it’s important that they keep you updated on your case and answer your questions clearly. When reading reviews of lawyers, see if former clients mention their communication skills.
  • How long they’ve practiced: The longer a lawyer has practiced, the more experience they probably have with working on cases similar to yours. While new lawyers can be just as good as seasoned ones, they’re harder to vet without a legal background.

If you’re not up for the challenge of sifting through lawyers, or you don’t have a legal background, Atticus can help match you with a lawyer who’s an excellent fit for your claim — for free! We’ve spent years vetting disability lawyers and have an extensive network of legal teams. We trust them to treat our clients with priority and respect and to win their cases. If you want our help, fill out our disability quiz to get started.

Ready to get benefits today?

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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