Around 140,000 people in Arkansas — 1.6% of residents — receive disability benefits. However, the process of getting benefits is often stressful and confusing. This guide to benefits in Arkansas will help you understand what benefits are available and how the Social Security disability application process works.
Since there aren’t any state-level disability programs in Arkansas, you’ll need to apply for benefits through a private program or federal program. Here are four of the most common types of disability.
Even if you apply for disability benefits through private insurance, the VA, or another type of program, you may still need to apply for SSDI or SSI — the most common type of benefits that people in Arkansas qualify for. Because of this, the rest of this guide will dive more deeply into those two programs.
There are medical and technical requirements you have to meet to qualify for SSI and SSDI. While the medical criteria are the same for both programs, each has different work and income qualifications.
You may qualify for Social Security disability benefits if you have a health condition that lasts longer than one year and renders you unable to work.
Data released in 2022 lists some of the most common conditions that qualify for disability benefits in Arkansas. Percentages below represent how many Social Security disability recipients have the following conditions in Arkansas:
Mental health conditions represent slightly under a third of the qualifying applicants for disability benefits in Arkansas. A few of the most common are:
Learn more about what conditions qualify for disability benefits.
To qualify for SSDI, you must:
Learn more about SSDI eligibility here.
To qualify for SSI, you must:
Learn more about SSI eligibility here.
The disability benefits application consists of the main form (SSA-16), plus supplementary ones that ask about your work history, level of daily functioning, and any type of treatment you are receiving for your condition. Filling out the forms on your own is an option, but getting professional assistance from a disability lawyer is always a good idea.
You have three options on where to file your disability benefits application:
Applying in person is a great idea for people who aren’t working with a lawyer. Although the SSA staff aren’t qualified to give you legal advice, they can give you advice on how to answer the application questions accurately.
Setting aside plenty of time to complete your disability application is crucial. The process can take longer than you might expect. Multiple questions require detailed answers and getting all the proper information takes time.
If you work with a lawyer, they will help you get everything you need to apply. However, if you decide to apply on your own, there are a few steps you’ll need to take:
Disability lawyers are trained in how to fill out a disability benefits application and will get a confirmation receipt for you from the SSA. For more advice on finding a lawyer, Atticus is here to help. We provide free legal advice and tips on the entire application process. To get started, fill out our 2-minute disability quiz.
While some applications are approved after a single review, most are not. Around 70% of people that apply are rejected and have to file for reconsideration. However, the process doesn’t get easier from here either. Over 90% of applicants are rejected after the second review. After this, you’re eligible to request a hearing in front of a judge.
Applicants who proceed with a hearing have the highest chance of being accepted, with an approval rate of just over 50%. The chance of getting approved is also three times higher with the help of a lawyer.
If you’re curious about what to expect at a hearing, here’s a glimpse into the courtroom.
Getting a final decision from the SSA can take years since most applications require multiple rounds of review.
In 2022, the SSA reported that it took, on average, 5.5 months (165 days) to provide an initial decision. Processing a reconsideration request added another 4.9 months, or 147 days. The average wait time to get a hearing in Arkansas was 10 months, but how long you wait may differ depending on your local SSA office’s processing times. All told, the disability benefits process takes an average of 20.4 months.
Here’s a breakdown of average wait times for the two hearing offices in Arkansas.
Wait time for a hearing
The only way to accelerate this process is to assemble and turn in all documentation the SSA requests as fast as possible, along with meeting the required deadlines. This is another area where a lawyer can help. They’ll make sure you stay on track with your submissions and check in with the SSA to confirm it has everything.
The amount of your disability check will vary depending on the type of benefits you receive.
The average monthly SSDI benefit for Arkansas residents is $1,294.57. How much you receive every month depends on your work history, with the maximum possible SSDI payment being about $3,600 in 2023.
It’s also easy to figure out your SSDI payment on the SSA.gov website. You just need to create an account by:
The average monthly SSI payment in Arkansas is $571.43, compared to a maximum possible amount of $914 in 2023.
To calculate your SSI benefit amount, the SSA subtracts your monthly income (including stock earnings, money from part-time work, and SNAP benefits) from the max amount.
Having a lawyer that specializes in disability benefits cases will save you from making crucial mistakes when submitting your Social Security disability application. If your first application isn’t approved, your disability lawyer will help with the appeal process. They can cross-examine witnesses, act as your advocate, and help you make the best case before the judge. You’re also three times more likely to win benefits if you have a lawyer.
As you’re searching for a disability lawyer in Arkansas, there are a few things you need to consider:
Atticus can help you find an experienced lawyer. We’ve already done the heavy lifting of vetting lawyers across the country and we can match you with someone who’s right for your case — for free! To learn more and get connected with a disability lawyer today, just complete our 2-minute quiz. Then a member from our team will reach out with next steps.
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