The state of Colorado is known for its majestic views, its legalization of marijuana, and skiing resorts. It was the home of the country’s first rodeo (on July 4, 1869), and is the only state to have ever turned down hosting the Olympics. It’s also one of the Four Corners, meaning if you stand at a particular point in Colorado, you’re also standing in Arizona, New Mexico, and Utah. Colorado has an approximate population of 5,812,069 people, making it the 21st most-populated state in the country. Among those residents, approximately 20% (about one in five) have some type of disability. However, just 3.1% get Colorado disability benefits.
Who May Qualify for Colorado Disability Benefits?
Colorado disability benefits are available to people who cannot work because of disability or health issues. There are two types of Colorado disability benefits: Supplemental Security Income (SSI) or Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI).
You must qualify for one of these Colorado disability benefit programs before you can receive any payments. That said, the Social Security Administration (SSA) administers both SSI and SSDI programs and handles their monthly payments.
Colorado Disability Program #1: Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
Do I Qualify For SSI?
Of the two available programs, Supplemental Security Income (SSI) is the hardest to qualify for. You must be blind, disabled, and/or age 65 or older to qualify for this Colorado disability benefit.
SSI has an income limit requirement that the other Colorado disability option does not. In other words, this benefit is only for those with very little income and almost no savings or other financial assets.
If you are 65 or older, you automatically qualify medically for SSI. If you are younger than 65, you must submit medical records proving you cannot work at all for at least one year.
The financial element of SSI qualification says you must earn no more than $1,350/month. If you don’t work, the SSA reviews your entire household’s income. In addition to work paychecks, you must disclose any income sources listed below when you apply for SSI:
- Child support
- State or federal aid (i.e., TANF, SNAP, workers’ comp, etc.)
- Dividends, interest, or trust fund disbursements
- Your spouse or roommates’ income (if applicable)
You must also tell them how much money’s in your bank account. SSI rules state you can have no more than $2,000 cash on hand or in financial assets. If you own things you can sell for cash, that potential income may also count against you.
Some assets, however, are off-limits. Your home and the land it’s on do not count against you. One vehicle, a wedding ring, clothing, and other possessions necessary for daily life (such as kitchen appliances and furniture) are also exempt.
In 2022, SSI benefits are a fixed amount of $841 per month. Married couples can receive no more than $1,261 per month in SSI.
Colorado Disability Program #2: Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI)
Do I Qualify For SSDI?
SSDI, which began in January 1956, helps people too sick or disabled to work tap into their Social Security benefits. Congress enacted SSDI for those too young to receive a full Social Security retirement benefit, yet cannot continue working. It allows you to draw the full Social Security payment the government owes you before you turn 66 years old.
SSDI requires all Colorado disability applicants to meet the following requirements:
1. You must work at least five years during the last decade in jobs where you paid Social Security payroll taxes.
2. Submit medical documentation showing you cannot work for at least 12 months for health reasons. This evidence should include a statement from your doctor that your medical issues will not improve within a year. Alternatively, you must have a diagnosis for a condition expected to result in your death.
3. Include a paper trail of regular doctor’s visits and clear medical records that covers the last 12 months of treatment. This can be an obstacle for many who might otherwise qualify for Colorado disability benefits. If financial concerns stopped you from seeking medical treatment, a Colorado disability attorney can help cover those costs (if you qualify for legal assistance).
If you cannot provide thorough records, Colorado’s Disability Determination Services (DDS) office will schedule an in-person medical exam. This may cause longer wait times for you to receive payments.
4. If you currently receive Social Security benefits, then you cannot qualify for SSDI. This is true whether you draw early retirement, regular Social Security or SSI payments each month.
How Long Does It Take To Get Colorado SSDI Payments?
It can take a long time to start receiving benefits. The application process can take months to complete. Even you win benefits on your first try, federal law requires a five-month waiting period before payments may begin.
The average disability case takes 3-5 months to process. If denied (as many are), you have 60 days left to appeal. The SSA calls this step “reconsideration.”
How Much Can I Get from SSDI in Colorado?
You May Qualify for Legal Assistance
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Lisa Allen is a writer and editor who lives in suburban Kansas City. She holds MFAs in Creative Nonfiction and Poetry, both from the Solstice Low-Residency Program in Creative Writing at Pine Manor College. Prior to becoming a writer, Lisa worked as a paralegal, where she specialized in real estate in and around Chicago.