When most people think of Nevada, the first thing that comes to mind is casinos, nightlife, and desert climes. However, did you know Nevada has more mountain ranges than any other state? It also has a huge wild horse population. And though ironically nicknamed the Silver State, Nevada is actually the largest gold-producing U.S. state. Also, Las Vegas has more hotel rooms than any other place on earth. Which makes sense when you consider what happens in Vegas supposedly stays there. And what if you happen to stay in Nevada for a long time (meaning it’s your home)? Well, one thing you don’t want to gamble with as a resident is your health. If you suddenly find yourself unable to work, you need to know how to get the Nevada disability benefits you deserve. Because trust us, you want to beat the odds on this one.
What Nevada Disability Programs are Available?
There are two Nevada disability options available for residents. Through the Social Security Administration (SSA), Nevadans can apply for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), or Supplemental Security Income (SSI). The former looks mostly at prior work history, the latter at financial need. As both programs are federally funded, applicants must also prove that they meet the federal definition of disability.
Unlike other states, there is no short-term disability in Nevada. Therefore, these programs are exclusively for individuals with long-term conditions that render them disabled for at least 12 months.
Currently there are 711,436 disabled adults in the state of Nevada, or one in four residents. Most of those have mobility impairments (13%) and cognitive issues (11%). Unfortunately, many of these disabled individuals are not receiving any of the $6 billion Nevada spends on annual disability benefits.
How Can a Person Qualify for SSDI in Nevada?
The Nevada Bureau of Disability Adjudication (BDA) — part of Nevada’s Department of Employment, Training and Rehabilitation (DETR) — determines applicant eligibility.
The first Nevada disability program available to residents is Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI). It is specifically for adults aged 18-65 with long-term impairments or illnesses that prevent them from working.
This Nevada disability program supports disabled individuals who have a qualifying previous work history. Meaning applicants must demonstrate they’ve worked for about one-fourth of their adult lives, including five of the last 10 years. And as part of that employment, they must have paid Social Security taxes (which is how this program is funded).
In order to qualify for Nevada disability benefits through SSDI, applicants must:
- Have a long-lasting medical condition that renders them incapable of working for 12 months or more.
- Show previous work in jobs that deducted Social Security taxes.
- Meet the SSA’s federal definition of disability.
How Can a Person Qualify for SSI in Nevada?
Low-income Nevada residents without a qualifying work history can still receive disability benefits if they meet certain financial requirements.
Known as Supplemental Security Income (SSI), this program provides monthly cash payments to disabled or blind children and adults. General tax revenues (not Social Security taxes) fund SSI benefits, so there is no work history requirement. However, the financial and resource qualifications for SSI are strict.
In order to qualify for Nevada disability benefits through SSI, applicants must:
- Meet the SSA’s federal definition of disability.
- Have less than $2,000 in resources ($3,000 per couple).
- Show “countable income” less than the monthly federal benefit rate (FBR).
If the last item on the SSI qualification criteria list above confused you, you’re not alone. “Countable income” is a rather complex calculation the government uses to determine SSI eligibility. It includes income from employment but also monies received for alimony, workers’ comp, and veterans’ benefits.
The federal benefit rate is the max monthly amount SSI will pay disabled individuals, and the FBR is determined annually. Individuals cannot make more than the FBR through any combo of countable income and still receive SSI.
How Much Are Nevada Disability Payments?
The maximum SSDI monthly payment a person can get for Nevada disability in 2022 is $3,345. The average, however, is around $1,358/month since the money received reflects what a qualified applicant made when they could work. The more you made prior to being disabled, the more your SSDI monthly payment.
Applicants who qualify for SSI can receive a maximum benefit of $841 per month, which is the federal benefit rate (FBR). A qualifying couple can receive up to $1,261 monthly. Not everyone gets the same amount. You may get less if you have other income such as pensions, or if someone else pays your household expenses.
Applicants who still aren’t sure which program they might qualify for should check the SSA’s Benefit Eligibility Screening Tool (BEST). Although some individuals may be eligible to receive both SSDI and SSI, typically applicants qualify for one or the other.
What Other Benefits are Available for Disabled Nevada Residents?
Nevada residents receiving SSI will also be eligible for Medicaid because the state uses the same financial criteria for both. However, applicants should know that enrollment is not automatic. Nevada is one of seven states that requires disability recipients to also file separate paperwork to receive Medicaid. Check out the Nevada Health Link for more information on these medical benefits.
The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) is another program that may benefit Nevada disability recipients. Formerly known as food stamps, this program offers supplemental nutritional funding to qualified individuals. Interested applicants should file through the Nevada Department of Health and Human Services.
Blind Nevada residents should also be aware there are extra state supplements available to them depending on their living situation.
How Long Does It Take to Get Nevada Disability Payments?
Federal law requires a five-month waiting period before anyone can get SSDI payments after their claim’s approved. If you wait that long to apply after you’ve stopped working, you can skip the waiting period.
However, keep in mind that in Nevada, the average case processing time is 570 days. Yes, you read that correctly. It can take almost two years to even get your case evaluated. As a result, most agencies recommend you apply as soon as possible after becoming disabled.
If the BDA denies your first application, you could be waiting another 19 months for an appeal hearing. That’s over seven months longer than the national average. There are only two offices dealing with Nevada disability claims, one in Reno and the other in Las Vegas. The good news is the Nevada disability claim approval rate is 46%. But prepare to wait for a long time before seeing any money in your pocket.
In especially dire cases, the SSA’s Compassionate Allowances (CAL) classification may provide applicants with an expedited review. It only applies to people with severe disabilities though — like certain brain disorders or cancers. If that is you, however, keep the CAL option in mind.
How Do I Apply for Nevada Disability Benefits?
If you still think you may qualify for Nevada disability, you have three ways you can apply:
- Online through the portal at SSA.gov (this is the SSA’s preferred method).
- By phone during regular business hours through the SSA’s toll-free service line — 800-772-1213 (TTY 800-325-0778).
- By visiting a local Social Security Office. However, avoid this last option, if possible, owing to closures and limited staff because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Another way of increasing your chances of a positive outcome is consulting with a disability attorney. Studies have shown that individuals with representation stand a better chance of success.
A skilled Social Security disability lawyer can help you navigate all these applications in a way that ups approval potential. And Social Security disability attorneys work on contingency, so they cost you nothing unless you win your claim. Plus, a Social Security lawyer can really help you navigate the complicated disability benefits system.
No, that’s not like counting cards, but it might be stacking the decks in your favor. And in this case, we don’t think there’s anything wrong with that.
Kimberly Dawn Neumann
Kimberly Dawn Neumann is a multi-published NYC-based magazine and book writer whose work has appeared in a wide variety of publications ranging from Forbes to Cosmopolitan. She graduated summa cum laude from the University of Maryland, College of Journalism. For more, visit: www.KDNeumann.com, Instagram @dancerscribe, and Twitter @KimberlyNeumann