Twenty five percent of New Mexico residents suffer from some sort of disability. Of this number a smaller proportion suffer so badly that their disability prevents them from working.
If this is what has happened to you, you can file a disability benefit claim from the Social Security Administration (SSA). The SSA will approve a claim if the description of your disability meets certain criteria. Many initial benefit claims are denied, but with the help of a disability lawyer you can appeal an unfavorable decision.
Social Security Benefits in Oregon: Key Facts
Disability benefits in New Mexico are provided by the SSA, which is a federal government entity. Filing a disability claim is possible in any state across the country, including New Mexico. There are 11 social security offices located across New Mexico where you can attend and apply for a social security benefit. The cities where a SSA field office is located are:
- Las Cruces,
- Las Vegas,
- Rio Rancho,
- Santa Fe.
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 you have accumulated.
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.
New Mexico state disability statistics record a disability rate of around 28.6% of the state population, a little higher than the national average of 25.6%. 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.
New Mexico’s average hearing processing time is more than a year (409 days). This is one of the longer state hearing processing times in the country.
The SSA database records that in the last reporting period (September 2020 to October 2020), there were 8 individual ALJ judges who attended varied numbers of hearings in New Mexico.
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 resulted in an unfavorable result. 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 New Mexico
Many benefit claims are denied at the outset, often because there is inadequate 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 New Mexico. The first step is to request a reconsideration of your claim. If this is rejected, then you should consider requesting a hearing with an administrative law judge (ALJ).
Before you attend the hearing you should ensure 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 may wish to ask your doctor to conduct 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 New Mexico
Applying for a disability benefit in New Mexico can be a frustrating and an intimidating experience. Many claims are denied at the outset and if this has happened to you, you may need the services of a disability lawyer who can guide you through the appeal process.
The lawyer may suggest how the severity of your disability can be presented better before a hearing, for example. Get a free case evaluation today.