If you live in Arizona and are suffering from a disability that is so severe that it prevents you from working, you may be able to obtain a disability benefit from the Social Security Administration (SSA).
The SSA will assess your claim against its own criteria and if the disability is considered severe enough then a benefit may be granted. The SSA will look at your work history, medical history, the nature of your disability and why you cannot work. If you need to appeal a denied benefit, you should use a disability lawyer to help you.
Social Security Benefits in Arizona: Key Facts
Disability benefits in Arizona are provided by the Social Security Administration, a federal body. This means that filing a disability claim is possible in all U.S. states, including Arizona. There are 15 social security offices located across Arizona where you can attend and apply for a social security benefit. The cities where a SSA field office is located are:
- Casa Grande,
- Show Low,
- Tuba City,
Whether you make a claim for a social security disability insurance (SSDI) benefit or a supplementary security income (SSI) benefit depends on the number of years of work you have completed and associated work credits.
When a person makes a claim for a disability benefit, the claim is passed to the state office of the Disability Determination Services (DDS) which assess the merits of the claim.
The DDS has medical personnel who are able to compare the severity of the disability with a listing in the SSA’s Blue Book. Most, but not all types of disabilities are listed in the Blue Book. The DDS may ask the claimant to attend for further testing or to carry out a residual functional capacity assessment.
Arizona state disability statistics record a disability rate of 25.8% of the state population, similar to the national average. This doesn’t mean that this number of people receive a benefit, though. A disability must be severe enough to prevent continuation of work for a SSDI or SSI benefit to be obtained.
Phoenix’s average hearing processing time is less than a year (303 days) but hearings in Phoenix North took considerably longer at 510 days. This is a little longer than the average state hearing processing time.
The SSA database records that in the last reporting period (September 2020 to October 2020), there were 28 individual ALJ judges who attended varied numbers of hearings in Arizona, with 17 recorded in Phoenix and 11 more in Phoenix North.
The ALJ statistics are given as raw data with no accompanying explanation of variation between individual judges, but does show that a slight majority of ALJ hearings result in a favorable result in Phoenix. In Phoenix North, the number of favorable and unfavorable decisions was more evenly balanced.
Of those decisions that are favorable, the vast majority are classified as “fully favorable” with only a small minority classified as “partly favorable.”
Appealing a Denied Social Security Benefit Claim in Arizona
Many benefit claims are denied at the outset, often because there is insufficient medical and case history information for SSA claims officers to make a realistic decision. There is an established procedure which you should follow if you decide to appeal a denied disability claim in Arizona. The first step is to request a reconsideration of your claim. If this is rejected, then you should request a hearing with an administrative law judge (ALJ).
Before you attend the hearing you should make sure that you have more detailed information about your disability: how it corresponds to the SSA’s Blue Book criteria, your medical history, work history and when your disability started and became serious enough to prevent you from working.
You could ask your doctor to give you a residual functional capacity (RFC) assessment which establishes what you can and cannot do both physically and mentally.
The ALJ will review all information supplied to the SSA to date and any new information supplied. Medical experts may also be in attendance to ask questions and make their own assessment. Many claims are accepted after such a hearing, but if unsuccessful, there are further steps in the appeal process that you can take.
Help Filing for Disability Benefits in Arizona
It is an unfortunate reality that many disability benefit claims are denied at the outset. However, by following the appeal process carefully and providing more relevant information about the nature of your disability there is a good chance that a favorable decision would then be made.
You will find that you have a better chance of winning a favorable appeal with the professional help of a disability lawyer. Get a free case evaluation today.