Hawaii has one of the lowest percentages of disability recipients in the country at just 2.8 percent of the state’s population. It also has just 20.2 percent of its population with disabilities compared to the national rate of 25.6 percent.
The Social Security Administration (SSA) is the body responsible for assessing disability benefit claims and may award a disability benefit to anybody whose disability features meet the SSA’s exact criteria. If a claim is denied with the help of a disability lawyer it may be possible to lodge an appeal.
Social Security Benefits in Hawaii: Key Facts
The Social Security Administration (SSA) is the federal agency responsible for approving disability benefits for anybody who fits the criteria and who lives in any state in the U.S., including the state of Hawaii.
Hawaii disability beneficiaries receive $296 million every year in benefits. They have access to 5 Social Security Field Offices, 1 Disability Determination service office and 1 Office of Disability Adjudication and Review.
The towns where an SSA field office are:
The Hawaii Office of Disability Determination Services is located in Honolulu.
Whether you are eligible to submit a claim for a social security disability insurance (SSDI) benefit or a supplementary security income (SSI) benefit may be dependent on the number of years of work you have completed and the work credits you have accrued while working.
When an applicant files a disability benefit’s claim the application is sent to the Hawaii state office of the Disability Determination Services (DDS) which will evaluate the features of the claim. The DDS uses medical professionals whose job is to study the severity of a disability by finding it in the SSA’s Blue Book lists.
Most, but not every disability is listed in the Blue Book. The DDS may decide that before a decision can be finalized that the applicant should be subjected to more tests or go through a residual functional capacity assessment.
Hawaii has a disability rate which is lower than the national average of 25.6%. This doesn’t mean that every person with a disability will be supported by disability benefits but only those whose disability is so severe that it is impossible for them to work.
In Hawaii, 30 percent of applications are approved from the initial application but if the DDS denies you disability benefits and you have to submit a request for a hearing, you have a high chance at 70 percent of being approved for benefits. But, it takes nearly 18 months before a hearing date is allocated.
Appealing a Denied Social Security Benefit Claim in Hawaii
Disability benefit claims are often denied from the initial application. This is mainly due to insufficient information being provided from medical and case history for SSA claims officers to reach the right decision. If your first application is denied the next step to take is to ask for a reconsideration of your claim. If this is denied as well you can file request for a hearing with an administrative law judge (ALJ) in Hawaii.
Before you attend the hearing you should ensure you have more detailed facts about your disability so that your claim is stronger than your first attempt. This includes:
- how your disability fits into the SSA’s Blue Book criteria;
- your detailed medical history;
- your work history;
- the starting date of your disability and when it became so severe you could work.
It is a good idea to ask your physician to assess your residual functional capacity (RFC) assessment which confirms what tasks and activities you are able to do both physically and mentally in relation to going to work.
The ALJ’s job is to evaluate all the data you have sent to the SSA in Hawaii up to now and any new information you are able to provide at the hearing. Medical professional experts may attend the event to ask you more questions and so they can reach the best decision. Many claims in Hawaii are finally approved after this hearing, but if unsuccessful, there are still more avenues to explore in the appeal process.
Help Filing for Disability Benefits in Hawaii
Getting the disability benefits you are entitled to means you will need to follow a complicated process, but a disability lawyer may work on your behalf and guide you through this process, including an appeal if your initial social security disability benefit claim is denied.
Your disability lawyer can help you arrange anymore tests that have been requested, ensure your medical files are current and organize a RFC assessment if it would give you a higher chance of overturning a claim that has been denied.