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.
Louisiana doesn’t have a state-based disability benefits program—but there are some national and private disability options Louisianans can qualify for.
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).
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:
Overall, many conditions can qualify for disability benefits. Across the state, categorically, SSDI recipients have the following conditions:
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.
To qualify for SSDI benefits, you must:
More on qualifying for SSDI here.
To qualify for SSI, you must:
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.
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.
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:
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).
While some people have their application accepted at the initial decision stage—most people (~69.3%) are rejected, and have to file for reconsideration. ~91% of reconsiderations are also rejected, and applicants request a hearing with an administrative law judge.
At a hearing, nearly 50% of people win benefits—and your odds increase threefold if you work with a lawyer. We wrote at length about what to expect at a hearing and your chances of winning your appeal.
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.
The average monthly benefit for SSDI recipients in Louisiana was $1,322.16 per month (according to the most recent SSA data). This is slightly less than the nationwide average of $1,277.05.
It’s easy to learn exactly what you would qualify for by signing up for an SSA.gov account. To check your potential benefit amount, and your SSDi work-history eligibility:
The maximum you can receive for SSI nationwide in 2023 is $914 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 2023 is $3,627 per month.
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.
Overall, applicants with a lawyer on their side are three times more likely to win benefits than those without, and 83% of applicants have legal representation at the hearing stage.
If you’re trying to vet for a disability lawyer on your own, ask these questions before choosing one:
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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