How to Qualify for Washington DC Disability Benefits

Disability Benefits

Important: We updated this article in April 2024 to make sure all info below is accurate. Making ends meet in the District of Columbia can be a challenge when you’re out of work for physical or mental health reasons. And the stress and strain can make your emotional and physical burden worse. If that sounds like you, we put vital information into this guide to assist you in securing Washington DC disability benefits. Two federal disability programs run by the Social Security Administration (SSA) may be able to help you ease your worries:

  1. Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI)
  2. Supplemental Security Income (SSI)

Applying is simple and fast since both programs use identical health eligibility screenings.



Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) Program for Washington DC Disability Applicants

The SSDI program is funded by deductions from some workers’ paychecks during employment. It pays benefits to adults with disabilities with enough work history to qualify and dependent persons in their families.

1. Who’s Eligible for SSDI?

District of Columbia residents with disabilities who answer “yes” to all these questions can apply:

  • Are you between 18 and 66 and not currently on Social Security? SSDI benefits stop when you turn 67 years old because that’s when you start getting regular retirement benefits.
  • Did you work at least 5 in the last 10 years in jobs where you paid Social Security taxes? Your eligibility lapses if you 60 months without employment because you didn’t pay into the system during that time.
  • Have you been to your doctor’s office in the past year to treat your health problems? If not, you can get a Disability Determination Services (DDS) exam to confirm your condition. Good news: A Washington DC disability attorney can pay for your doctor visits and medical records requests when you can’t.
  • Does your doctor expect your health to keep you off the job for at least a year? You won’t qualify if you can return to work within 12 months or perform job duties with a reasonable accommodation under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

Good news: Even if you aren’t eligible for SSDI, you may still qualify for the SSI program.

2. How Much Does SSDI Pay Each Month?

The SSA calculates your Washington DC disability benefits amount using a two-step process. First, the SSA estimates your average monthly paycheck over 35 years of work. Then they set your payment at a percentage of that amount (usually 40%).

The national average 2024 benefit is $1,537 a month; the highest is $3,822. 

Good news: Your payments could go up if Congress OKs a cost-of-living adjustment (COLA).

3. How Long Does It Take for SSDI Payments to Start?

The application takes about 5 months to complete, then another month for your first check after claim approval.

Bad news: About 50% of applications don’t get benefits because of basic paperwork errors.

Good news: Working with an attorney who specializes in disability law makes you three times more likely to get approved. Even better, you only pay legal fees if you receive benefits.

There are two ways to appeal a denial:

  1. To appeal after your initial denial, request a reconsideration within 60 days of your rejection. This process can take up to 3.5 months.
  2. Then, if the reconsideration isn’t successful, you can ask for a hearing with an Administrative Law Judge. This can take up to 12 months to schedule, though.

Bad news: Only 11% of appeals are successful. And even if you’re approved, you might have to wait almost 2 years for the first payment.

Good news: Hiring a Washington DC disability lawyer increases your chances of a successful appeal. You only pay legal fees if you win.

4. How Long Can I Receive SSDI Payments?

The program pays as long as you pass updates every 3-7 years until you turn 67. After that, you’re eligible for Social Security retirement benefits. Your monthly amount stays the same.

5. What About Health Insurance?

SSDI approval also gives you early access to Medicare coverage 24 months after your payments begin.

how long does it take to get SSI benefits in Washington, DC?

Supplemental Security Income (SSI) Program for Washington DC Disability Seekers

SSI disability benefits help people who are blind, disabled, or at least 65 that meet the program’s eligibility requirements. Here’s what DC residents with disabilities need to know before they file.

1. What Are the Age Requirements for SSI Disability?

DC residents at least 65 years old are eligible based on age alone if they meet the limited income and resources requirements. Young adults must attend a medical exam at a nearby DDS office to establish eligibility.

Good news: A Washington DC disability lawyer can pay for your doctor office visits and medical records if you cannot afford them.

2. What Are the Financial Eligibility Rules for SSI?

You must meet the following requirements to receive SSI benefits:

  • Have a monthly income below $2,590 if you’re blind and $1,550 if you have another disability. Alimony, child support, alimony, SNAP earned interest, TANF, etc., all count towards this amount.
  • Own total resources worth less than $2,000 ($3,000 for couples). Cash in your bank accounts and items you could sell, like stocks and bonds, lottery tickets, etc., count toward this total. The car and home you own, daily living items and wedding rings aren’t included in your countable resources for SSI.   

3. How Much Does SSI Pay to Washington DC Disability Claimants?

Approved people can receive as much as $943 in Washington DC disability benefits; couples can get up to $1415. These amounts can increase when Congress approves a COLA.

4. How Long Can I Get SSI Benefits?

If you’re older than 65, you’re eligible as long as you meet the financial requirements. If you’re younger than 65, benefits continue for life as long as you pass a disability update every 3-7 years.

5. How Can SSI Beneficiaries Get Health Insurance?

You also qualify for Medicaid coverage starting the same month your SSI payments begin.

How to Start the Application Process for Washington DC Disability Benefits

Important: No matter how you choose to file, the application process takes at least 4-5 hours to complete.

Here are all options for filing your application in the District of Columbia:

  1. Apply online for SSDI benefits at SSA.gov. Note that you cannot apply online for SSI, however. For SSI benefits, you must apply in person, by phone, or through an attorney.
  2. In person at the nearest SSA field office. Pro Tip: Call ahead of your visit and make an appointment to skip the wait!
  3. File by phone. You can do this by calling 1-800-772-1213 Monday-Friday, 8am-7pm EST. Hearing impaired or deaf applicant? Contact the SSA using TTY number at 1-800-325-0778.
  4. Have a Washington DC disability benefits attorney file your claim for free, which triples your approval odds.

Success Tip: List every health condition you have on your application. Most people who list multiple disabilities (62%) are more likely to win benefits. It’s also easier to succeed if you’re already 50 or older.

Does health insurance come with disability benefits in the District of Columbia?

Good news: Working with a Washington DC disability attorney makes you almost 3x more likely to receive benefits. And qualified Social Security lawyers don’t charge unless you’re successful. If your Social Security disability benefits application is approved, then you only pay one small fee afterwards.

Since this website launched, we have helped almost a million people with disabilities connect with free expert claim help. This service is always free and starts with just one phone call!

Want to speak with an advocate about your own claim? Click the button below to start your free online benefits quiz now and see if you may qualify:

Get Your Free Benefits Evaluation

Margot Lester is the CEO of The Word Factory, a B2B & B2C content marketing agency that provides services for Fortune 100 brands, healthtech companies and SaaS developers. An award-winning business and brand journalist, she writes for daily and weekly newspapers and business journals, national magazines, in-flight publications and leading websites. Margot is also an in-demand writing coach and organizational communications trainer, helping individuals and teams write more effectively. Twitter/X: @word_factory LinkedIn: linkedin.com/in/margotlester.