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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
Mental health conditions can also qualify for benefits. A few of the most common mental health disorders were:
Learn more about what conditions qualify for disability benefits.
To qualify for SSDI, you must:
Learn more about SSDI eligibility.
To qualify for SSI, you must:
Learn more about SSI eligibility.
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.
There are three ways to file your disability benefits application:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Wait time for a hearing
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.
The amount of your disability check depends on which type of benefits you receive.
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,
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.
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:
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.
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