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Wisconsin disability benefits

How to Qualify for Disability Benefits in Wisconsin

Written by
Jackie Jakab, Disability Attorney
Jackie Jakab
Lead Attorney
Published June 14, 2024
2 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 has helped over 50,000 Americans apply for disability benefits.

See if you qualify

As a Wisconsinite with a medical condition that impairs your ability to work, you can access federal disability programs, including Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI). Both SSDI and SSI provide health insurance and pay monthly disability benefits to beneficiaries, but they have different criteria for qualification. 

According to the Social Security Administration (SSA), nearly 170,000 Wisconsin residents receive disability benefits. Learn more about what it takes to qualify for SSDI and SSI.


What qualifies you for disability benefits in Wisconsin?

Once you submit your disability application, the SSA uses a five-step evaluation to determine your eligibility. Knowing these steps in advance can help you prepare your application correctly. The SSA will go through the following checklist:

  1. Are you working at a substantial gainful activity level? First, the SSA assesses whether you’re engaged in substantial gainful activity (SGA). If you earn more than $1,550 per month, the SSA will consider you capable of SGA and ineligible for disability benefits.

  2. Do you have a severe impairment? Your disability must be severe enough to prevent you from performing basic work activities for at least 12 months.

  3. Does your disability meet the SSA’s definition of disability? The SSA lists qualifying medical conditions in its Blue Book. If your condition does not appear in the Blue Book, you’ll need to provide medical evidence that your disability prevents you from working.

  4. Can you do work you’ve done in the past? The SSA will determine whether you can still perform any of your past work with your current limitations.

  5. Can you do any other types of work? The SSA will consider whether you can adjust to other work based on your medical condition, age, education, past work experience, and transferable skills.

Many conditions are eligible for disability benefits. See what you qualify for instantly.

What’s the most approved disability in Wisconsin?

Mental health conditions are the most approved disabilities in the state of Wisconsin, with 66,538 people receiving benefits for mental disorders. 

According to the most recent data, the most common mental disorders among Wisconsin recipients are:

  • Depression, bipolar disorder, and related disorders: 19,433 people

  • Intellectual disorders: 17,940

  • Schizophrenia and other psychotic disorders: 8,115 

Of the 66,538 people, 11,459 have a mental disorder that the SSA doesn’t specify.

Read our full guide about which medical conditions qualify for disability benefits.


How to qualify for SSDI

In Wisconsin, the average monthly SSDI benefit amount is $1,742.49 To qualify for SSDI, you must meet the following requirements: 

  • Disability: You’re disabled according to government rules.

  • Duration of disability: Your disability is expected to last at least one year.

  • Work credits: A certain number of work credits are necessary for you to receive SSDI. You earn work credits by working and paying Social Security taxes. The SSA requires a total of 40 work credits, half of which you must have earned in the last 10 years. This generally equates to working at least five of the last 10 years.


What’s the Social Security 5-year rule?

The Social Security five-year rule is a guideline for assessing your work history. If you’ve worked for at least five of the past 10 years, you are more likely to qualify for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI). 

The five-year rule may also refer to the elimination of a waiting period for SSDI beneficiaries who are re-applying for benefits. Learn more by reading our complete guide to the Social Security 5-year rule. 


How to qualify for SSI

SSI does not require a specific work history. Instead, the SSA bases it on your financial need. In Wisconsin, the average monthly SSI benefit amount is $613.05. You may qualify for SSI in Wisconsin if you meet the following requirements:

  • Medical eligibility: To receive SSI, you must be disabled, blind, or age 65 or older.

  • Asset limits: You must have less than $2,000 in countable resources if you’re single. That limit increases to $3,000 for married couples.

  • Income restrictions: Your total monthly income must be below the federal benefit rate, which is $943 for 2024.

Match with a top disability lawyer in Wisconsin

How many hours can you work while on disability in Wisconsin?

If you’re applying for or already receiving Social Security benefits, you may be able to have a small revenue stream and still be eligible, so long as it’s below what the SSA considers substantial gainful activity, or SGA. 

SGA is work that causes physical or mental exertion and includes most jobs you’d do for pay. As of 2024, the SGA limit for both SSDI and SSI is $1,550 per month (or $2,590 if you’re blind). To learn more about working while on disability, read our complete guide to SGA. 


Get help with your disability application

If you’re applying for disability benefits in Wisconsin, Atticus can help. If you take our two-minute quiz, a member of our team will get in touch afterward to offer personalized advice about your disability claim. They can also connect you with a disability lawyer if you’d like. 

You only pay your disability lawyer if they win your case for benefits, meaning there are no upfront costs to working with Atticus. After you win disability benefits, you pay a one-time lawyer fee, which is capped at 25% of your first benefits check.

Frequently asked questions about disability in Wisconsin

What qualifies you for disability in Wisconsin?

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 Wisconsin?

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 Wisconsin?

It takes an average of 6.1 months to get an initial disability decision in Wisconsin. 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 Wisconsin?

The average SSDI payment in Wisconsin is $1,340.21 per month. The average SSI payment is $626.81 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 Wisconsin?

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 Wisconsin have a state disability program?

No, Wisconsin does not have a state disability program. Only five states (California, Hawaii, New Jersey, New York, and Rhode Island) have a state program. Residents of Wisconsin can apply for federal disability programs (SSDI and SSI). Read more about SSDI and SSI here.

Related resources:

Wisconsin Disability Benefits

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By Jackie Jakab

SSA Offices in Wisconsin

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By Jackie Jakab

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Jackie Jakab, Disability Attorney

Jackie Jakab

Lead Attorney

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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