West Virginia Disability Benefits: What Claimants Must Know

Disability Benefits

Important: We updated this article in April 2024 to ensure all info below is correct. The state of West Virginia, also known as the Mountain State, is ideal 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 largest and oldest Native American burial grounds. People visit for its outdoor adventure opportunities, including mountain biking, skiing, and whitewater rafting. It has a population of 1,766,107 people, ranking it 40th among U.S. states. Currently, approximately 33% (about 1 in 3) West Virginia residents have a disability. However, only about 8% get West Virginia disability benefits.

Who Can Qualify For West Virginia Disability Benefits from the Social Security Administration?

West Virginia disability benefits are available to people with a medical condition that prevents them from working. There are two ways disabled West Virginians can receive benefits: Supplemental Security Income (SSI) or Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI).

The Social Security Administration (SSA) manages both programs, whose eligibility requirements appear below.

West Virginia Disability Option 1: Supplemental Security Income (SSI)

Do I Qualify for SSI?

Supplemental Security Income (SSI) is the most restrictive aid program. It only pays benefits if you’re blind, disabled, or at least 65 years old.

Unlike the Social Security disability program, SSI requires you to have limited financial resources. That means this West Virginia disability benefit only goes to people with limited income and almost no assets.

How Do I Qualify for SSI?

First, let’s talk about age. If you are at least 65, then you don’t have to pass a medical assessment. If you’re younger, you must submit strong evidence showing you meet SSI medical eligibility requirements. This includes complete records from relevant medical sources that treat you regularly. No recent evidence? Then an exam with a local disability evaluation specialist determines medical eligibility.

Supplemental Security Income also has strict income rules. First, your work income cannot be more than $1,550. Not working? You must disclose all other income when you apply for SSI. That might be alimony, child support, TANF, SNAP, worker’s compensation, or veteran’s benefits earned through military service. If you don’t live alone, you must report other residents’ earnings.

In addition to SSI medical requirements, you must disclose your bank account balance. The program requires no more than $2,000 in available cash to qualify. The Social Security Administration may also count other assets you could sell easily for cash.

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 daily living needs, like furniture or appliances.

Your Supplemental Security Income amount doesn’t depend on previous work earnings. Instead, everyone gets the same payment. Each person can receive up to $943 per month. For eligible couples, you and your spouse can receive $1415 each month, max.

Does the Social Security Administration Provide Health Insurance with SSI Benefits?

Yes! Once an individual qualifies, Medicaid coverage begins the same month as SSI payments do.

Does the Social Security Administration Provide Health Insurance?

West Virginia Disability Option 2: Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI)

Do I Qualify For Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) Payments?

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 the only way to start drawing your full Social Security benefits before you turn 67 years old.

SSDI has certain requirements every West Virginia disability applicant must fulfill:

  1. You must work at least 5-10 years in a job where you paid Social Security payroll taxes before you apply.
  2. Your poor health must force you to stop working for a continuous period of at least 12 months. The Social Security Administration calls this “engaging in substantial gainful activity.”
  3. You must prove your claim’s validity with sufficient medical evidence. This includes things such as getting regular medical treatment from your doctor. This can be an obstacle for many who might otherwise qualify for West Virginia disability. If a lack of income prevents you from visiting the doctor, an attorney might be able to cover those fees or pay for other necessary medical records. Without that paper trail, you must undergo a disability assessment with Disability Determination Services (DDS). This can mean you’ll wait much longer for approval and to receive your first payment.
  4. If you are drawing Social Security benefits, then you cannot qualify for SSDI. That may mean survivor’s, early retirement, or dependent benefits you draw from a relative. You also can’t get SSDI if you’re receiving Supplemental Security Income. In addition, any West Virginia disability benefits you earn from SSDI automatically convert to Social Security payments at age 67.

How Long Does SSDI Take to Pay West Virginia Disability Benefits?

The easiest answer to this question is, it can take a long time. Disability applications can take several months to review before you 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 the initial application process takes, one thing you can control is whether to work with an attorney. Recent government data shows hiring a West Virginia disability attorney triples your odds of approval on your first try. That means you’ll get the money you need to replace your personal income sooner than if you’d tried to go it alone.

How Much Can I Get from SSDI Each Month?

SSDI payments are determined by a percentage of your monthly job income earned before your disability began. This means that everyone’s amount is different, but the national average SSDI payment is $1,537 per person.

SSDI payments don’t last for life. Once you turn 67, SSDI payments stop and you switch over to Social Security retirement benefits. There is nothing for you to do to make this happen. It occurs automatically.

How Much Can I Get From SSDI Payments?

Eligible family members may also receive SSDI if they count as your dependents. Your entire household can get up to 180% of your own SSDI payment amount in total benefits.

Does SSDI Approval Include Health Insurance?

Yes, but not until after you receive payments for 24 months first. Two years from the date your SSDI payments begin, you’ll qualify for Medicare coverage.

You Have 4 Ways to Start The Application Process for Benefits

Here are the 4 ways you can file for West Virginia disability payments:

  1. Apply online at SSA.gov. You’ll need to create an account first and have all necessary documents handy when you apply.
  2. File by phone. You can call 1-800-772-1213 Monday through Friday, 8am-7pm EST to have a Social Security Administration agent help you do this.
  3. In person at your local Social Security office. Here’s an idea of what to expect when you arrive at your local office and how to speed things up.
  4. For free with professional help from an experienced attorney. Having a law firm file your claim costs you nothing up front, and can shorten your wait from 18-24 months to 6 or less.

No matter how you choose to file, make sure your application includes medical records. Plan to spend 4-5 hours, minimum, filling out 3-5 different claim forms. The amount of paperwork the Social Security Administration requires depends on if you have a medically determinable physical or mental impairment.

What Happens If My Claim’s Denied?

You should receive a disability determination letter in the mail showing your application outcome and what to do next. If your application failed, this detailed explanation summarizes why the SSA denied your claim. Start the appeal process right away, but no later than 60 days after your disability determination decision letter arrives. The best way to make sure the Social Security Administration receives your appeal on time is to send it registered mail.

Your first appeal is called “Reconsideration.” If denied again, you can request a hearing before an SSA administrative law judge. Having a West Virginia disability attorney handle your case can help you sail through the appeals process. It also dramatically increases your chances for receiving disability payments when you appeal!

What Happens If I'm Denied West Virginia Disability Benefits?

How to Get Free Expert Help Filing Your Claim or Making an Appeal Request After Denial

Working with an attorney makes you three times more likely to get benefits vs. people who file their own disability applications without expert help. West Virginia disability attorneys work on contingency. That means you only pay a fee if you win. If that’s the case, you’ll pay a small fee. If denied, though, you pay the law firm nothing for helping you.

That said, 4 in 5 people who win benefits during the appeals process have attorneys.

There is no risk for you to speak with a West Virginia disability attorney about your chance of getting payments.

Ready to see if you may qualify? Click the button below to start your free online benefits evaluation now!

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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.