Important: We updated this article in February 2024 to ensure all info below is both current and correct. Interested in Vermont disability benefits? First, here are a number of Vermont facts everyone should know. The state’s known as the home of maple syrup and the birthplace of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream (they started in a gas station!). Its name comes from the combination of vert (meaning green) and mont (which means mountain), and folks often visit the state for its lush landscapes and gorgeous mountains.
Vermont has an approximate population of 647,000 residents. That makes it one of the least populated states. In fact, only Wyoming ranks below Vermont in the contiguous United States by population. Among those 647,000 people, approximately 10.6% younger than 65 have disabilities. Shockingly, only about 5% receive Vermont disability benefits.
The fastest-growing segment of Vermont’s population is adults aged 60 and older. Estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau project that by 2030, more than 29% of residents will fall into this demographic. That’s an increase of 40% from 2012.
Why is this important? Because age can be one factor in qualifying for Vermont disability benefits. There are two types of benefits: Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI). SSI and SSDI are both programs managed by the Social Security Administration (SSA). These are two separate programs, but both pay Vermont disability benefits to qualified applicants. Learn more about each program and what it takes to qualify below.
Vermont Disability Option #1: Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) Benefits
What Is SSDI?
In January 1956, Congress established the SSDI program to help Americans unable to work because of a medical condition. The SSDI program allows them to draw their rightful Social Security benefits before they’re eligible for full retirement. SSDI requires all the following to qualify for Vermont disability benefits:
- You must have worked in a job for 5-10 years that withheld Social Security benefits from your paycheck.
- Your doctor must verify that your medical condition prevents you from working for at least 12 months.
- You schedule regular doctor’s visits for treatments that support your application. Haven’t seen your doctor in the past year? Then the SSA requires a Disability Determination Services (DDS) exam to confirm any disabilities. If your lack of funds prevents regular medical care, a Vermont disability attorney may cover those expenses (doctor’s visits and medical records).
- You must be aged 18 to 66 and not drawing Social Security benefits. This is because once you turn 67, Vermont disability payments automatically convert to Social Security retirement. Applying for early retirement at 62 can also disqualify individuals from receiving SSDI.
How Long Does It Take to Get SSDI?
It can take a minimum of six months for your first payment to arrive after you apply. In fact, just reviewing your application takes DDS 3-5 months, on average. Further, federal law requires a five-month waiting period before Vermont disability payments begin.
If the Social Security Administration denies your first application, you may request a reconsideration appeal within 60 days. Studies show that hiring an attorney can significantly increase your chances of initial benefit approval, thereby eliminating the need to appeal. This means that a Vermont disability attorney can typically help you get paid faster than going it alone.
How Much Does SSDI Pay In Vermont?
Upon approval, your average monthly work salary over a 35-year history will determine your SSDI benefit amount. Your award will not equal your previous job income; rather, it will be a percentage. The national average SSDI payment in 2024 is $1,537 per month.
SSDI payments do not continue forever. Once you turn 67 years old, they convert to Social Security retirement benefits. You do not need to apply to be eligible for this change. It happens automatically.
You’ll also qualify for Medicare health insurance coverage 24 months after receiving your DDS decision letter in the mail.
Vermont Disability Option #2: Supplemental Security Income (SSI) Benefits
What Is SSI?
The other Social Security Administration program that grants Vermont disability benefits is Supplemental Security Income (SSI). This program only pays benefits to those who are blind, disabled, or at least 65 years old. Screening for SSI benefits is different in that they review your finances before making a disability determination decision.
If you are at least 65 years old, you automatically pass the disability determination test for SSI. For Virginia disability applicants younger than 65, the Social Security Administration evaluates your claim based on your medical information.
The financial screening to qualify for SSI is rigorous. You must have earned no more than $1,550 per month while working. If you don’t work, then all income counts against you. This includes child support, alimony, SNAP, TANF, and other sources of unearned income.
Your bank account also plays a role in whether you’re eligible for SSI. You can have no more than $2,000 in all accounts combined. If you have less than that, then the SSA reviews your other assets to determine their value. Your home and the land it sits on, if you own it, will not count toward this total. Nor will appliances, furniture, and other items necessary for daily life. Also, your wedding ring(s), clothing, and one vehicle are exempt.
How Much Does SSI Pay In Vermont?
Once approved, you’ll start receiving Vermont disability benefits the following month. The maximum pay rate is $943 for individuals, or $1,415 per married couple.
The same month your SSI payments begin, you’ll also qualify for Medicaid coverage.
How to Apply for Vermont Disability Benefits
No matter which program you choose, you have 4 ways to apply:
- In person at one of 3 Social Security offices located across the state. Plan to spend at least 4 hours there filling out paperwork. Contact the nearest office and request an appointment to make your visit as short as possible.
- Over the phone. Call the SSA’s toll-free number at 1-800-772-1213 Monday through Friday, 8am-7pm EST.
- Online at SSA.gov (this option applies for SSDI claims only). You can contact the SSA to notify them of your intent to file for SSI, but cannot apply for those benefits online. Instead, you’ll need to go to a local field office to complete and submit your claim.
- For free through a nearby disability lawyer. This option makes you 3x more likely to succeed in just weeks or months, not years.
How to Determine if You’ll Qualify Before You Apply for Disability
Working with a Vermont disability lawyer triples your chances of the SSA awarding you benefits in six months or less. Because these attorneys work on contingency, it costs $0 to see if your case might win. If you win, you’ll pay a small fee; if you don’t, then you owe nothing.
Want to talk with an expert for free about your own claim? Click the button below to start your free online quiz now and see if you may qualify:
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.