Residents of Pennsylvania who have a disability and can no longer work may be eligible for a disability benefit in that state. The federal Social Security Administration (SSA) is responsible for assessing applicants and providing disability benefits.
Criteria is specific and the SSA’s Blue Book listings for different disabilities are the primary method the SSA uses to determine eligibility. Applicants whose disability symptoms do not match a Blue Book listing may be required to carry out a residual functional capacity (RFC) assessment by a doctor. The RFC assessment helps to determine what physical and mental state you are in and what you can and cannot do and what work, if any, you may possibly be able to do.
Social Security Disability Benefits in Pennsylvania
The federal Social Security disability benefit system and criteria are the same across the U.S. from Pittsburgh to Portland and Butte to Big Bend. There are two ways you can qualify for a disability benefit.
If you have been in paid employment for long enough and have accumulated sufficient work credits you should apply for a Social Security Disability Insurance benefit (SSDI). This is not assessed on your current income and assets, just whether you are over the threshold for work credits. The other way is open to those who do not have sufficient work credits and have low incomes and assets. If you are in this category you may qualify under the Supplementary Security Income (SSI) system.
Whether you apply for SSDI or SSI, you still file your application with the SSA with supporting documentation. The state will have a special branch of the SSA called Disability Determination Services (DDS) who are tasked with assessing your disability and determining whether it is sufficiently serious to qualify for a benefit.
The DDS have medical personnel who are qualified to look at your medical records, doctor’s assessment of your disability, medical history as it relates to the development of the disability, x-rays, tests, scans and other diagnostic evidence which you have provided to support your application.
The Cities Where Social Security Field Offices are in Pennsylvania
You will need to lodge your disability benefit application at one of the field offices listed below:
- Belle Vernon
- East Stroudsburg
- Fairless Hills
- New Castle
- New Kensington
- State College
- Upper Darby
- West Chester
- Wilkes Barre
Disability Statistics in Pennsylvania
In Pennsylvania, 14.3 percent of adults have some sort of disability compared to a national average of 12.2 percent. This does not mean that 14.3 percent of adults in the state are receiving disability benefits though as many of these disabilities are not severe enough to prevent people from working and obtaining an income.
Typically, about 70 percent of all initial claims are rejected by the SSA for a number of reasons. At the appeal stage, the state average success percentage is 42 percent of all claims that actually progress to appeal. This does show that an initial rejection of a benefit application should not deter an applicant from pursuing their claim.
Appealing Denied Social Security in Pennsylvania
If your disability benefit application has been denied in Pennsylvania, you are still able to go through the SSA’s appeals process. Many denied claims are reversed on appeal.
The first stage of an SSA appeal is to request reconsideration. If this fails, you can request a hearing by an administrative law judge (ALJ). If you wish to appeal, you need to do so within 60 days of the decision to deny your application.
The Office of Disability Adjudication and Review (ODAR), performs Social Security Disability (SSD) hearings and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) hearings in eight different offices in Pennsylvania. The average waiting time in the state for a hearing is 9.1 months and the average processing time is 361 days.
Help Filing for Disability Benefits in Pennsylvania
Even if you have had your benefit application rejected, you have a good chance of success if you decide to go through the appeal process. This can be a lengthy and frustrating experience. Contact a disability lawyer to help you with your claim as this may give you a higher chance of obtaining a benefit in the long run.
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