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Do SSDI qualifications vary from state to state?

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A common question we receive on our forum is, “Do SSDI qualifications vary from state to state?” This can be confusing given all of the various disability programs offered on the state and federal levels, but understanding SSDI and the federal structure of the disability process is critical to getting SSDI benefits as soon as possible.

What is SSDI?

SSDI or Social Security Disability Insurance is a disability program offered by the Federal Government and administered by the Social Security Administration. Monthly cash benefits are offered through SSDI to disabled workers, their dependent children, their spouse and potentially a divorced spouse.

The SSDI was an expansion of earlier federal programs established by the Social Security Act of 1935. In 1956, the Social Security Act was amended to provide cash benefits to disabled workers who were 50-64 years of age, the children of retired workers who were disabled or deceased, and children who were disabled before the age of 18.

The goal of the SSDI program was to help disabled workers while they were not able to work with the goal of helping them recover and return to useful employment. Unbelievably, in the 1960s this program serviced approximately 559,000. Now there are millions of SSDI recipients who receive benefits each month.

The program has grown substantially through the years, although the basics of the program have not changed much since the 1970s. The Government, due to the swelling disability roles, started implementing changes in the 1970s and 1980s to the program to create more incentives for claimants to return to work or to attempt rehabilitation.

Does it matter where I apply for SSDI?

Because SSDI is a federal disability program it will not matter where you apply or where you move. Your SSDI benefits will remain the same (disability payments for SSI, however, can vary based on whether or not the state offers a state supplemental payment to SSI claimants).

Claimants are encouraged to wait to apply if they are in the process of moving to a new state because this can cause less confusion in the disability application processing, but if you have to move just contact the Social Security Administration (SSA) and notify them of your new address and they should be able to send your application to the appropriate Social Security Administration (SSA) office for processing.

Other SSDI Issues

The fact that the SSDI program is a federal program has simplified the disability process. The country is divided into regions and processing for your application will be done by the appropriate region. If you are sent for an administrative hearing the hearing office should be within 50 miles of your home, making it easier to see the Social Security Administration judge.

Also, because the program is a federal program you can hire a disability lawyer who practices anywhere in the country. and they will not have to know different laws or statutes which are specific to their state (unlike other types of areas of law). Where ever you live the disability lawyer can help you. They can correspond with you via telephone and email and can fly to your hearing, regardless of where it is located.
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