Your Guide to Getting Washington Disability Benefits

Disability Benefits

Important: We updated this article in May 2024 with current policy data from the Social Security Administration. Washington state is famous for having the only green flag in the union. It’s also a major apple exporter and the #2 wine producing region in the U.S. But for some Washington residents, life isn’t one endless adventure through the region’s gorgeous state parks and mountains. If you’re disabled in Washington state, we have good news! You may qualify for Washington disability benefits if a medical condition forces you to stop working for at least one year.

Two programs run by the Social Security Administration (SSA) and one Washington state program can potentially help you:

  1. Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
  2. Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI)
  3. Washington State Supplementary Payment (SSP) for people already getting SSI

You can apply for both federal programs at once because they use the same medical requirements to verify you qualify as disabled. However, only Washington residents that qualify for SSI payments can get income from the third program.

We created this guide to help Washington State residents get Social Security disability benefits.

What’s the Best Way to File for Washington Disability Benefits?

You must file your SSI or SSDI claim in one of the following ways:

  1. In person at one of the Social Security field offices closest to where you currently live. Pro Tip: Call your local office and make an appointment first to skip to the front of the line.
  2. Apply for disability with help from an experienced attorney for free. This is the only option that triples your chances for approval in 6 months or less, according to a government report.
  3. Over the phone by calling 1-800-772-1213 during weekday business hours Monday through Friday. Not sure which local office is closest to your home? You can also call this number to make an appointment at an SSA office near you.

You can also apply online for SSDI only, but not SSI at

Anyone already getting SSI payments can also qualify for Washington state SSP benefits. However, those payments are not available to anyone on SSDI or other forms of disability assistance.

Washington Disability Benefits Program #1: Supplemental Security Income

SSI disability benefits help those who are blind, disabled, or at least 65 years old and have very limited income. We have everything residents from Camas to Colville should know before they apply below.

1. What Are the SSI Disability Financial Eligibility Rules?

Washington State residents seeking SSI must meet these financial requirements:

  • Have total financial assets worth no more than $2,000. That includes money in the bank and items you might sell, such as stocks and bonds, jewelry, etc. The home you own, your daily vehicle, a wedding ring, and other daily living items don’t count toward the SSI asset limit.
  • Have a monthly income below $1,550 each month from wages and/or other sources if you have a disability other than blindness, and $2,590 if you are blind. The SSA counts child support, alimony, earned interest, SNAP, TANF, etc., as “monthly income”.

Couples that file for disability must meet combined SSI requirements. That means together you have less than $3,000 in resources and very low or no income.

How Do I Qualify for SSI?

2. Is There an Age Requirement for SSI?

If you’re older than 65, you meet the age requirement. Younger Washington disability applicants must pass a Disability Determination Services (DDS) medical exam. Tip: A Washington disability lawyer can pay expenses related to doctor visits and medical records requests when you can’t afford to.

3. How Much Does SSI Pay in Washington Disability Benefits?

If your claim’s approved, you can expect to get as much as $943 for an individual or $1415 for couples. From time to time, Congress approves a Cost-of-Living-Adjustment (COLA) that could increase your benefit.  

4. How Long Will SSI Pay Me Washington Disability Benefits?

SSI recipients must pass a disability update every 3-7 years. In some cases, that means showing up for a medical exam at a Washington DDS office. However, these updates only last until you turn 65 years old. After that, you must only meet the income and asset limits to keep your monthly assistance for life.

5. What About Health Insurance?

The same month your Washington disability benefits begin from SSI, you’ll get Medicaid coverage.

Program #2: Washington State Supplementary Payments (SSP) for People Already on SSI

Some residents of the Evergreen State can get a little extra money each month from the state in Washington disability benefits. The Washington State Supplementary Payment (SSP) covers people who qualify either for SSI cash benefits or Social Security Title II benefits as a disabled adult child and would be eligible for SSI if it were not for the receipt of these benefits – and who meet these SSP Pre-Vocational Legacy (PVL) requirements. Those requirements are as follows:

  • Be a DDA client;
  • Have exited a DDA Prevocational employment service after September 1, 2015;
  • Not taking part in a DDA Prevocational Program;
  • Not be enrolled in a DDA Residential Habilitation Service such as Companion Home, Alternative Living, Supported Living, State-Operated Living Alternative (SOLA), Group Home, Foster Home, or Staff Residential;
  • Be eligible for or receive Supplemental Security Income cash assistance in the month in which the DDA/SSP Pre-Vocational Legacy is issued; or receive Social Security Title II benefits as a disabled adult child and would be eligible for SSI if they did not receive these benefits.

Because the eligibility criteria for this program can be complicated, it may make sense to work with a Washington disability attorney.

Program #3 for Washington Disability Benefits: Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI)

SSDI is a federal disability insurance program funded by taxes taken from American workers’ paychecks. If you work full-time for an employer who takes out FICA or Social Security taxes, you’re covered. If your job issues you a 1099 at the end of the year, then you aren’t eligible and should look at SSI benefits.

We gathered information on SSDI eligibility and payments for residents from Spokane to Seattle and all points in between.

1. Who Can Apply for SSDI Benefits?

If you answer “yes” to every question below, you’re eligible to apply for SSDI benefits today:

  • Did you work for at least 5 of the last 10 years in jobs where you paid Social Security taxes? You need 40 Social Security work credits to pass this requirement.
  • Does your doctor expect your health issue to make you unable to work for at least 12 months? Your disabling condition must prevent you from working for at least a year or result in death. If you return to work in months or weeks, you aren’t eligible.
  • Did you receive treatment for your medical condition within the past year? If not, you need Disability Determination Services to determine your condition qualifies. Tip: A Washington disability lawyer can pay for doctor visits and medical records requests when you can’t.
  • Are you age 18-66 and not receiving benefits already from Social Security? The SSDI program stops paying at 67 since you switch over regular Social Security benefits on that birthday.

Did you have any “no” answers? Don’t worry. You might qualify for SSI.

2. How Long Does It Take to Get Your First SSDI Check?

There’s usually a 5-month waiting period before you can receive assistance. That means 6 months after file your disability claim is the soonest most people receive a payment.

Most people wait much longer to get their initial decision back from Disability Determination Services in Washington. That’s why it pays to work with a Washington disability lawyer during the application process, not just when you wish to appeal.

3. How Much Does SSDI Pay?

How much you get in Washington disability benefits on how much you earned from working. Payment equals 40% of your average monthly job income over a 35-year career. Disabled workers receive an average of $1,537 in monthly SSDI for 2024; the most you can get is $3,822.

The Disability Application Process: Paperwork Takes Time

4. How Long Can I Receive SSDI Payments?

The SSA requires recipients to pass disability updates every 3-7 years until you turn 67 years old. After that, you get regular Social Security retirement instead. Your monthly pay amount stays the same, and you don’t have to complete any forms to make this happen.

5. Does SSDI Come with Health Insurance?

Yes, but you’ll have to wait a while for that coverage to kick in. Federal law says you can access Medicare 24 months after SSDI payments begin.

Is Disability Determination Services Different Than the Social Security Administration (SSA)?

Not really. Disability Determination Services operates Washington offices throughout the state as a branch of the SSA. They conduct exams to collect medical evidence before issuing a disability determination decision. So, the SSA itself won’t decide whether or not you qualify for Washington disability benefits. The DDS office will do that.

What Documents Do I Need When I’m Ready to Apply for Washington Disability Benefits?

You’ll need the following handy when you’re ready to complete and submit your claim:

  • Social Security number (SSN)
  • 2 forms of ID, such as a birth certificate, driving license, passport, or Green Card
  • Military service records (if applicable)
  • Bank account information for setting up direct deposit
  • Pay stubs and income tax records
  • Additional information about your spouse, children, or any other dependent family member who lives with you
  • Employment history, including employer contact information

Pro Tip: It takes at least 5 hours to fill out disability application paperwork.

Get Free Expert Help Qualifying for Washington Disability Benefits

Tip: Having a Washington lawyer help you apply for disability can triple your chances of success. A Social Security attorney charges nothing if you don’t win, and only one small fee when you do.

Disability lawyers can also do all of the following for no up front fees:

  • Check your claim paperwork for basic mistakes. This gets up to 50% of people who apply denied benefits the first time they file. Something as simple as messy writing or leaving one field blank can lead to denial.
  • Make sure you submit the right medical evidence. Social Security field offices can request medical documents from all your doctors, but it could take several months. An application that includes medical records from day one can get through the review process much faster.
  • Appeal a denied claim and represent you at disability hearings. This can be especially helpful for people with mobility issues.

Denied benefits? You still have 60 days to appeal in writing. Your first appeal is called a reconsideration and takes about 3.5 months to complete. If your first appeal fails, you can request a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge. That could take up to a year, and there’s no guarantee you’ll win. However, 4 in 5 people who apply for disability have an attorney at the hearing stage of the appeals process.

Ready to find out if you may qualify for benefits? Click the button below to launch your free online claim evaluation now:

Get Your Free Benefits Evaluation

Margot Lester is the CEO ofThe 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/