Louisiana Disability Benefits: How Much Do They Pay, and How Long Will It Take?
August 16, 2022 · 6 min read
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Atticus offers free, high-quality disability advice for Americans who can't work. Our team of Stanford and Harvard trained lawyers has a combined 15+ years of legal experience, and have helped over 10,000 Americans apply for disability benefits.
Our clients in Louisiana have a lot of questions about disability benefits.
The most common: Is it hard to qualify for disability? Do you need a lawyer? How much do you receive if you win?
Our short answers: How hard or easy the process is depends on your page and condition. You probably need a lawyer. And the recipients receive up to $180,000 in lifetime benefits.
Still have questions? We still have answers. Read on to learn more about how to apply for disability in Louisiana, which benefit programs you should apply for, what conditions qualify, and how to find the right lawyer.
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What disability programs are there in Louisiana?
Louisiana doesn’t have a state-based disability benefits program—but there are some national and private disability options Louisianans can qualify for.
Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI): SSDI supports Americans who can no longer work due to a medical condition. You qualify if you’ve worked and paid taxes, and the amount you receive depends largely on how much you’ve paid in. Generally if you’ve worked for five of the last 10 years, you qualify for SSDI. The program is run through the Social Security Administration, and is thought of like a retirement benefit. If you have to “retire early” due to a disability, you can access some of the funds you’ve paid into the program over your years of work.
Supplemental Security Income (SSI): If you haven’t worked enough, or worked recently enough, to qualify for SSDI, you may qualify for SSI. It’s another federal program, and you use the same application to apply. SSI is only for individuals with very little income and very few assets, and generally pays out less monthly than SSDI.
Long-term/Short-term private disability insurance in Louisiana: If you (or your employer) purchased disability insurance prior to you becoming disabled — you should be able to file a claim with the private insurer. These pay out a percentage of your former income for a given number of months — but the exact amount will depend on the policy you purchased.
Veterans Disability Benefits: If you served in the military and suffered an injury that left you unable to work, or you’re retired but have a medical condition as a result of your service, you should apply for disability benefits through the Department of Veterans Affairs. Learn more about how to apply for VA benefits.
For the rest of this article, we’re going to focus on SSDI and SSI. These are the programs most people qualify for in Louisiana, and is generally what someone means when they talk about “applying for disability.”
It’s also frequently necessary to apply for SSDI and SSI when trying to qualify for other programs (like most long-term disability plans). Or, they’re advantageous to apply for in conjunction with other programs (like VA benefits).
Qualifying for disability in Louisiana
What medical conditions qualify you for disability in Louisiana?
Any medical condition that prevents you from working can qualify for disability. Generally speaking, your condition qualifies if it lasts longer than one year or could potentially lead to death.
You cannot get SSDI benefits if your condition will improve, such that it no longer prevents you from working, within the year.
Amongst these the most common conditions to qualify in Louisiana were:
Diseases of the musculoskeletal system and connective tissues: 57,651 people
Diseases of the nervous systems and sense organs: 15,760 people
Intellectual disorders: 19,950 people
Depressive bi-polar and related disorders: 16,194 people
Circulatory system conditions: 15,721 people
Schizophrenia spectrum and other psychotic disorders: 7,353 people
Other mental disorders: 5,372 people
Overall, many conditions can qualify for disability benefits. Across the state, categorically, SSDI recipients have the following conditions:
Mental disorders: 30.5%
Endocrine nutritional and metabolic diseases: 2.4%
Infectious and parasitic diseases: 1.3%
Congenital Abnormalities: .4%
Disease of the blood and blood forming organs .4%
Diseases of the circulatory system: 8.9%
Diseases of the digestive system: 1.3%
Diseases of the Genito-urinary system: 1.9%
Diseases of the musculo-skeletal system: 32.5%
Diseases of the nervous system: 8.9%
Diseases of the respiratory system: 2.3%
Diseases of the skin and subcutaneous tissue: .3%
If your condition falls into any of these categories and prevents you from being able to work, the SSA will likely award you disability benefits. If you have a particularly severe condition (stage 4 cancer, ALS), you may be on the compassionate allowance list — which automatically qualifies you for benefits, if you meet the work or income requirements.
Other requirements for SSDI and SSI
SSDI qualifications in Louisiana
To qualify for SSDI benefits, you must:
Be under 67 years old.
Meet the requirements for “work credits” for your age. You can check your work credits by making an account at SSA.gov—but most people qualify if they’ve worked five out of the last 10 years.
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How to apply for disability in Louisiana
You can apply for disability benefits with the help of a lawyer, or on your own. Most often, you’ll be required to file the application and supplementary documentation on your work history, your day-to-day functioning, and your treatment history.
How do I submit an application?
There are three ways to submit an application for disability benefits:
If you’re not applying with a lawyer, it’s generally helpful to apply at the SSA office. They won’t give you legal advice, but can advise you on how to answer the application questions accurately.
How should I prepare my application?
It takes most people hours to submit an application because of the documentation needed.
Here’s what you’ll need to do to submit an application:
Collect your records. This includes medical records, contact information for doctors, work history, education records, bank account information, and other documents you will need to include with your application.
Fill out and submit the application and include supplemental documents and forms. All told, the forms can be more than 30 pages and take hours to complete. When filling out the forms, be extremely clear and specific about your limitations and pain level while remaining realistic. It’s also critical to make sure that you’re consistent with your answers between forms, as they often ask similar questions.
Follow-up with SSA right after you submit. Sometimes applications get lost, and the SSA has a lot of claims to get through. You’ll want to confirm they have received and are processing your application.
Respond to any requests from SSA immediately. They may ask for supplemental information or request that you see a SSA doctor. You will typically have 10 days to submit documentation.
If you’re working with a lawyer, they should fill out your application for you (the right way), gather your medical records, and confirm receipt with the SSA. (If you’d like more advice on how to fill out the initial application, or how you can find the right lawyer—Atticus can help out for free).
How long does it take to get disability benefits in Louisiana?
Given how frequently initial applications are denied, it can take several months to a year or more to get your claim approved.
In 2021, to receive an initial decision took an average 5.5 months (165 days).
The time to process your reconsideration took 4.9 months (147 days).
The time you wait for your hearing date depends on your SSA hearing office. The average wait in Louisiana, between requesting a hearing and appearing at one, is anywhere from 10 months to a year.
On average, it takes 1.79 years to get disability benefits in Louisiana—plus any additional time you take to send in additional paperwork, file reconsideration, and request a hearing. Most applicants will take around two to two and a half years to go from application to final decision.
Sending the SSA your documentation as soon as possible is the only way to speed up this process—so it’s important to meet deadlines, and get forms and medical records their way as fast as possible. Your lawyer can help you stay on track, and will call to confirm the SSA has all the information they need.
Create an account using your Social Security number
Scroll down to the section titled “Disability”
SSI payments in Louisiana
The maximum you can receive for SSI nationwide in 2024 is $943 per month. The SSA will subtract any other regular monthly income from this amount. So if you make any additional income (stocks and investments, part-time work, etc.), that will be deducted from your monthly check.
The average monthly SSI payment in Louisiana is $628.83 per month. The maximum possible SSDI benefit in 2024 is $3,822 per month.
How to find the right disability lawyer in Louisiana
When you’re applying, disability lawyers can save you from critical application missteps and save you weeks of paperwork.
At the hearing stage, they’re critical to have in your corner. They cross examine witnesses from the state and help you make the best possible case before a judge.
If you’re trying to vet for a disability lawyer on your own, ask these questions before choosing one:
What is your primary area of practice? Do you take on other types of cases, or just SSDI and SSI? If they specialize in disability law, that’s a good sign they’ll have some experience with cases like yours.
How do you reach out to and communicate with your clients? Do you email them, call them or text them? Having a lawyer that’s available, keeps you in the loop, and answers your questions is critical. Make sure you can reach out and get the insight you need from them.
How do you prepare for a hearing? Bad lawyers often show up on the day of the hearing with no preparation. Good lawyers meet with the client at least once or twice before the hearing and go over the case.
Do you fill out the application for me by yourself? Invested lawyers, who understand the disability process well, generally fill out the application for you. If they don’t, they’ll have a good reason why (e.g. I know the judges in this area and they prefer applicants fill out applications solo).
It can be challenging to suss out great lawyers from mediocre lawyers without a legal background. If you’d like to be matched with a lawyer who’s a great fit for your claim, Atticus can help (for free).
We’ve spent years vetting disability lawyers and have built a network of legal teams (chosen from the top 5% of firms). We trust them to treat our clients well, and to win their cases. If you want our help evaluating the right disability lawyer for you, sign up here.
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Frequently asked questions about benefits in Louisiana
How do I qualify for disability in Louisiana?
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 Louisiana?
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 Louisiana?
It takes an average of 6.1 months to get an initial disability decision in Louisiana. 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 Louisiana?
The average SSDI payment in Louisiana is $1,322.16 per month. The average SSI payment is $628.83 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 Louisiana?
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 Louisiana have a state disability program?
No, Louisiana 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 Louisiana can apply for federal disability programs (SSDI and SSI). Read more about SSDI and SSI here.
See what you qualify for
How long has your condition made it hard to work?
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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