Indiana Disability Benefits: How to Qualify, Apply, and Get Approved
December 16, 2022 · 6 min read
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In Indiana, 2.4% of residents qualify for and receive disability benefits. These benefits are a lifeline for many people, but getting them is a challenging process. For most applicants, it’s time-consuming, confusing, and just plain stressful.
In this guide, you’ll learn how to qualify for benefits, the basics of the application process, and how much benefits might be worth to you.
What Indiana disability program should I apply for?
While there is no disability program specific to Indiana residents, there are federal programs and private disability benefits you can apply for. Below are descriptions of some of the most common options.
Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI): SSDI is a federal insurance program run by the Social Security Administration (SSA). It provides support for people who have previous work experience but can no longer work because of a medical condition. The amount of your benefit checks and the likelihood of qualifying for SSDI is influenced by how long you’ve worked and paid taxes.
Supplemental Security Income (SSI): If you don’t have much work history, you could qualify for SSI. It’s another federal program that uses the same application as SSDI. The difference between the two programs is that, unlike SSDI, SSI is for people with little to no income and savings.
Long-term or short-term private disability insurance: Private disability insurance policies are commonly available through your employer but can also be purchased independently. Usually, they pay out a percentage of your former paychecks over a set number of months — specifics vary by policy.
Veterans disability benefits: Veterans are eligible for disability benefits through the Department of Veterans Affairs if they meet one of two conditions: they’ve served in the military but suffered an injury that has left them unable to work or they’re a retired veteran with a medical condition caused by their service. Learn more about VA benefits.
For the rest of this guide, we will focus on SSDI and SSI since they’re the most common types of disability benefits that Indiana residents qualify for. Even if you apply for other programs, you might still need to apply for SSI or SSDI.
Skip the reading. See which benefits you qualify for in 2-minutes or less.
How do I qualify for disability benefits in Indiana?
Qualifying for SSDI and SSI involves meeting medical and technical requirements. While the medical requirements are the same for both programs, each has different work and income qualifications.
Conditions that qualify for disability in Indiana
You may qualify for Social Security disability benefits if you have a health condition that has lasted (or is expected to continue) over one year and that leaves you unable to work. Based on recently released SSA data, the most common conditions among Social Security disability recipients in Indiana are:
Congenital anomalies: 0.4%
Endocrine, nutritional, and metabolic diseases: 2.8%
Infectious and parasitic diseases: 0.8%
Mental Disorders: 31.8%
Diseases of the blood and blood-forming organs: 0.2%
Diseases of the circulatory system: 7.7%
Diseases of the digestive system: 1.7%
Diseases of the genito-urinary system: 1.5%
Diseases of the musculoskeletal system and connective tissue: 29.7%
Diseases of the nervous system and sense organs: 10.8%
Diseases of the respiratory system: 3.8%
Diseases of the skin and subcutaneous tissue: 0.2%
Other types of mental or physical disorders: 0.2%
You can also qualify for benefits if you have a mental health condition. A few of the most common disorders are:
Intellectual disorders: 21,744 people
Depressive, bipolar, and related disorders: 21,864 people
Schizophrenia spectrum and other psychotic disorders: 8,482 people
As you begin the disability benefits application process, there is one required form (SSA-16) and a few supplementary forms that ask for details about your work history, day-to-day functioning, and any treatment you get for your condition. Getting help from a disability lawyer can make filling out these forms much easier, though you can also do it independently.
How to submit an application
There are three ways to submit your application for disability benefits:
If you don’t have a lawyer to assist you, applying in person at your local SSA office might be your best choice. While the SSA staff can’t directly give you legal advice, they can advise you on how to answer the application questions accurately.
How should I prepare my application?
Preparing your application for disability benefits involves more than just gathering paperwork on your health condition. There are a number of detailed questions you need to answer and how you answer could determine the success of your application. A lawyer can assist with this, ensuring you have everything done properly.
If you are preparing and submitting your application on your own, here are some of the things you need to do:
Gather your records. Documentation like work history, medical records, contact information for doctors or medical providers, bank account information, education records, and other additional forms are required for an application.
Submit the application plus supplemental documents and forms. Be as specific and realistic as possible as you complete forms about your limitations and pain levels. Consistency is key, especially since you’ll get asked similar questions across the different forms.
Follow up with the SSA right after you submit. Reach out to the SSA to confirm they’ve received your application. Do this as soon as possible to know they’ll begin processing your application.
Respond to any requests from the SSA immediately. Sometimes, you might be required to submit supplemental information or see an SSA doctor. You typically have 10 days to provide requested documentation after you’ve been notified. Failing to respond in time will delay your application.
Having a lawyer can help you tremendously with the application process. They can fill out an application for you and confirm receipt with the SSA. If you’d like more advice on this 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?
While some applications are accepted after the first review, around 70% are denied. The next step is to file for a reconsideration. Over 90% of these reconsidered applications are also rejected. But persistence is key. At this point, you can request a hearing before a judge.
How long does it take to get disability benefits in Indiana?
SSDI and SSI applications are frequently denied after the first submission, so it can take years before you receive a final decision from the SSA.
In 2022, the average time from initial application until getting a disability hearing in Indiana was between 18.6 months and 26.4 months.
The the average wait time for an initial decision was 6.1 months or 184 days. If you have to file for reconsideration, that adds another 6.1 months (183 days) to your wait time. Then the average wait time to get a hearing in Indiana was 10.75 months. However, the wait time could be between 8 and 16 months, depending on which SSA office handles your hearing.
Here’s a breakdown of wait times by hearing office:
Wait time for a hearing
Quickly sending all requested documents to the SSA and meeting the requested timelines are the only ways to speed up the approval process. Your lawyer will also help you stay on track with your submission and check in with the SSA to confirm it has all the necessary information.
How much does disability pay in Indiana?
The amount of your disability check depends on the type of benefits you receive.
Average SSDI payments in Indiana
The average monthly SSDI benefit in Indiana is $1,355.25, according to the most recent SSA data — about $100 higher than the average national payment. Your benefit check could be higher or lower, depending on your work and income history. The maximum possible SSDI benefit is $3,822 in 2024.
To figure out what your potential SSDI paycheck will be, all you have to do is create an account on the SSA website:
In Indiana, the average monthly SSI payment is $580.90. This is higher than the national average, but well below the maximum possible SSI payment ($943 in 2024).
To figure out how much your SSI check will be, the SSA subtracts the value of your other monthly income — like SNAP benefits, stock earnings, and money from part-time work — from the max amount.
Disability lawyers in Indiana: how to find the right attorney
With a disability lawyer, you can avoid making critical mistakes while filling out your Social Security disability application. If your case requires a hearing, they can cross-examine witnesses, act as your advocate, and help you make the best possible case before a judge. Additionally, the likelihood of winning benefits is three times higher with a lawyer than without.
When you’re searching for an Indiana disability lawyer, consider these important points before hiring one:
Reviews: When possible, look at the content of a lawyer’s reviews. Repeatedly negative comments are a major red flag. However, if they have a majority of positive reviews and few complaints, they might be worth talking to.
Primary area of practice: You need a lawyer that specializes in disability benefits so they have adequate knowledge about your type of case.
Location (to an extent): While having a lawyer in your immediate area is nice, it’s not a necessity since SSDI and SSI have the same rules all around the country. However, a local lawyer can be beneficial because they’re more familiar with your local judges and courts.
Communication: A lawyer should give you reliable ways to contact them — whether through email, phone, or face-to-face — and communicate with you clearly. It’s also important that they answer your questions because you’ll probably have many. Look for feedback on the lawyer’s communication skills in their reviews.
How long they’ve practiced: The longer a lawyer has practiced, the more experience they probably have with cases similar to yours. While new lawyers can be just as good as seasoned ones, they’re harder to vet.
Looking for a lawyer is challenging, especially if it’s your first time doing so. Atticus can help by matching you with an experienced lawyer — for free. With our experience vetting disability lawyers and extensive network of legal teams, we will find the right lawyer for your case — someone you can trust will treat you with priority and respect. To get started, fill out our 2-minute quiz. A member of our team will then reach out to talk about next steps.
Ready to get benefits today?
Frequently asked questions about benefits in Indiana
How do I qualify for disability in Indiana?
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 Indiana?
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 Indiana?
It takes an average of 6.1 months to get an initial disability decision in Indiana. 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 Indiana?
The average SSDI payment in Indiana is $1,355.25 per month. The average SSI payment is $580.90 per month. What you’ll earn is dependent 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 Indiana?
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 Indiana have a state disability program?
No, Indiana 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 Indiana can apply for federal disability programs (SSDI and SSI). Read more about SSDI and SSI here.
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