The state of West Virginia, also known as the Mountain State, is the perfect place for people who love the great outdoors. It’s home to enormous sycamore trees and where Americans first celebrated Mother’s Day back in 1908. It is also home to the first federal women’s prison, the first free rural mail delivery, and the largest and oldest Native American burial grounds. People visit for its vast array of outdoor adventure opportunities, including mountain biking, skiing, and whitewater rafting. It has an approximate population of 1,793,716 people, making it the 40th most populated state in the country. Of those 4,624,047 people, approximately 33% (about 1 in 3) have a disability. However, only about 8.47% receive West Virginia disability benefits.
Who Can Qualify For West Virginia Disability Benefits?
West Virginia disability benefits are available to people whose health issues prevent them from working. There are two types of West Virginia disability benefits: Supplemental Security Income (SSI) or Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI).
Neither of these West Virginia disability benefit programs are automatic, meaning there are requirements to qualify for each. The Social Security Administration (SSI) manages both programs, whose eligibility requirements appear below.
Related: Your Complete Guide to Louisiana Disability Benefits
West Virginia Disability Option 1: SSI
Do I Qualify for SSI?
Supplemental Security Income (SSI) is the most restrictive disability program. It only pays benefits to those who are blind, disabled, and/or at least 65 years old.
Unlike SSDI, SSI also requires you to have limited financial resources. This means that this West Virginia disability benefit only goes to people with limited income and almost no assets.
First, let’s talk about age: If you are at least 65 years old, you don’t have to pass a medical exam for SSI. If you’re younger, you must submit medical records to ensure you meet the program’s disability requirements.
SSI also has strict financial qualifications. First, your work income cannot be more than $1,350/month. Not working? You must disclose every source of income when applying for SSI. That might be alimony or child support, TANF, SNAP, or dividends. If you don’t live alone, you must report other residents’ earnings.
In addition, you must disclose your bank account balance. The program requires no more than $2,000 in available cash to qualify. The SSA may also count other assets you could sell easily for cash against you.
Not all assets count towards your $2,000 total, though. Homeowners shouldn’t worry about their home or the land it’s on. The same is true of your vehicle (limited to one), wedding ring, clothing, and other assets required for everyday living, like furniture or appliances.
Your SSI payment amount doesn’t depend on your previous work income. Instead, your payment stays the same as everyone else’s. Each person can receive up to $841/month. For eligible couples, you and your spouse can receive $1,261/month, max. This amount is more than previous years.
West Virginia Disability Option 2: SSDI
Do I Qualify For SSDI?
The SSDI program’s goal is to help people who are too sick or disabled to work, but not yet old enough for Social Security retirement. It’s a way to start drawing your Social Security benefits before Full Retirement Age (FRA).
SSDI is easier to qualify for, but that doesn’t mean the process is quick or easy. SSDI has certain requirements every West Virginia disability applicant must fulfill:
- You must have worked at least 5-10 years in a job where you paid Social Security payroll taxes.
- Your health problem(s) must force you to stop working at least 12 months in a row.
- You must prove your claim’s validity with strong medical evidence, such as regular doctor’s visits and healthcare records. This can be an obstacle for many who might otherwise qualify for West Virginia disability benefits. If a lack of income prevents you from visiting the doctor, a West Virginia disability attorney might be able to cover those fees or pay for other necessary documents. Without that paper trail, you will be subject to an exam conducted by Disability Determination Services (DDS). This can mean you’ll wait much longer for approval and to receive your first payment.
- If you are now drawing Social Security benefits, then you cannot qualify for SSDI. That could mean survivor’s, early retirement or dependent benefits you draw from a qualifying relative. In addition, any West Virginia disability benefits you earn from SSDI automatically convert to Social Security payments at Full Retirement Age (FRA).
How Long Does SSDI Take to Pay West Virginia Disability Benefits?
The easiest answer to this question is, it can take a long time. The application review process itself can take several months before you’ll hear a decision. If you win benefits on your first application, federal law requires a five-month waiting period before you can receive payment.
The average West Virginia disability case can take at least 5 months to process. If the SSA denies your first claim (like many others), it can take an additional 3+ months to file an appeal. You must go without income to pay your bills during this entire period.
While you can’t control how long it takes to review your claim, one thing you can control is whether to work with an attorney. Recent government data shows hiring a West Virginia disability attorney increases your odds of benefit approval on your first try. That means you’ll get the money you need to replace your income sooner than if you’d tried to navigate the process alone.
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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.