They say things are bigger in Texas. And that’s not an exaggeration considering that the state of Texas is actually larger than any country in Western Europe! In fact, Texas was its own country from 1836-1845 when it finally agreed to join the United States of America. Also, three of the largest cities in North America are there: Houston (#4), San Antonio (#7), and Dallas (#9). Plus, Texas boasts 72,000 miles of highway! But what if you’re one of its 28.64 million residents on a road to nowhere with your Texas disability claim? Fret not. We’re here to help our friends who live in the “Friendship State” learn how to get the benefits you need.
What Texas Disability Programs Are Available to Residents?
Currently there are 5,435,500 adults in Texas with a disability, or about 26% of the population. But only a small fraction of that number receives any of the $56.7 billion Texas spends on annual disability claims.
Qualified individuals should know there are two federal assistance programs in Texas available through the Social Security Administration (SSA). They include Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), or Supplemental Security Income (SSI). The former looks mostly at prior work history, the latter at financial need. Both require applicants to also meet the federal definition of disability.
Disability Determination Services (DDS), part of the Texas Department of Health and Human Services, determines state-level eligibility. The DDS is also responsible for administering payments even though these programs are federally funded. But how do you know if you qualify and how much assistance can you get?
How Can a Person Qualify for SSDI in Texas?
Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) is the first Texas disability option available to qualified residents. It is primarily for adults aged 18-65 with long-term impairments or illnesses that prevent them from working.
This program supports disabled individuals who have an extensive prior work history, which the SSA measures in “work credits.” Typically, applicants need to have worked about one-fourth of their adult lives and five of the last 10 years. That’s generally what’s needed to acquire enough work credits for the “non-medical qualification” part of the application.
To qualify for Texas disability benefits through SSDI, applicants must:
- Meet the SSA’s federal definition of disability.
- Be incapable of working for 12 months or more owing to said long-lasting medical condition.
- Show previous work in jobs that deducted Social Security taxes.
How Can a Person Qualify for SSI in Texas?
Supplemental Security Income (SSI) is the other Texas disability program available. It provides monthly cash benefits to children and adults who don’t have the necessary work history for SSDI.
However, applicants must still satisfy the definition of disability and meet strict income and resource guidelines. But there is no work history requirement since this program is funded through general revenue taxes (not Social Security).
Currently 633,515 Texas residents are receiving SSI benefits, most of whom are blind or disabled.
To qualify for Texas 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 SSI federal benefit rate (FBR).
“Countable income” includes income from employment but also things like alimony, workers’ comp, and veterans’ benefits. One reason applicants may wish to consult with a disability attorney is that determining countable income is confusing.
On the positive side, however, Texas automatically qualifies and enrolls SSI recipients in Medicaid. And while it doesn’t offer everyone extra funds, there’s a modest state supplement available for individuals living in Medicaid-funded facilities.
Disabled residents should also visit the Your Texas Benefits site to see additional supplemental benefits for which they can apply. Programs like SNAP (supplemental nutrition assistance program) and TANF (temporary assistance for needy families) can really help lessen the burden.
How Much Are Texas Disability Payments?
The maximum SSDI monthly payment a person can get for Texas disability in 2022 is $3,345. However, the more common average check to a qualified disabled worker is usually around $1,358/month. Why the difference? How much a person made while working determines how large (or small) the total amount of their monthly payment.
Applicants who qualify for SSI can receive a maximum benefit of $841 per month, which is the 2022 federal benefit rate (FBR). A qualifying couple can receive up to $1,261 monthly. Remember that this is also the most “countable income” someone applying for SSI can show and still qualify for benefits.
How Long Will I Have to Wait to Get Disability Payments?
The good news for Texas residents is that the average processing time for claims is 337 days. If you’re responding to that with “What, almost a year?” keep in mind that the national average is 418 days. So, Texas is ahead of the curve.
Still, getting disability payments is a lengthy process. In Texas, if your initial application is denied, you must then ask for a reconsideration from the DDS. If your “request for reconsideration” is also denied, the next step is to ask for a hearing with a judge. And currently the average wait time for a hearing is almost 10 months.
Plus, federal law requires that all applicants wait five months from the onset of their disability before receiving any payments. In other words, even in a state that has “shorter” wait times, getting a settlement could take over a year.
In extremely dire cases, applicants may apply for the Compassionate Allowances program (CAL). This designation is only for emergencies, however. It’s reserved for cases where time is of the essence and the diagnosis is severe. Asking to join CAL may help expedite processing.
A skilled Social Security disability lawyer can help you navigate all these layers of appeals. Or, even better, they can keep you from having to appeal at all. Studies show that applicants with representation have a much higher chance of a positive ruling on the first try.
How Do I Apply for Texas Disability?
In Texas, the SSA automatically checks if an applicant qualifies for SSI when they apply for SSDI. That means you don’t have to do all the paperwork twice. Though occasionally individuals will qualify for both programs, it’s more typical to receive one or the other.
To submit a Texas disability application, you may do it one of three ways:
- Online through the portal at SSA.gov.
- 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, this is the SSA’s least-preferred method because of closures and limited staff resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic.
The fourth option is to retain a Social Security disability lawyer who can file the paperwork for you. All disability attorneys in our network offer contingency-based legal assistance. So until you settle your claim, you pay nothing. And if you do win, you only pay a small, one-time fee deducted from your settlement.
But the amount of stress you’ll save by having a “friend” in your corner during this process? Well, that’s — like Texas — big.
Ready to see if you may qualify? Click the button below to start your free online benefits evaluation now!
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