Filing for Disability in Alabama

Alabama has streamlined the appeals process for Social Security disability.

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Applying for Social Security or SSI disability benefits in Alabama is the same as in other states, but Alabama has its own state agency that determines disability, different approval and denial rates, and an extra payment for some SSI recipients. Below is a review of the differences in Alabama.

Alabama Application and Appeals Process

Initial Application

You file your disability application for Social Security disability benefits at your local Social Security office or online (for SSDI only). Social Security will review your application to make sure you meet the technical requirements, and then will pass it on to Alabama Disability Determination Services (DDS). It is DDS that decides if you will receive disability benefits and the start date of those benefits.

At the initial application step, Alabama's approval rate is slightly lower than the national average. Initial applications in Alabama are approved 30.3% of the time, while the national average for approvals on initial applications is 31.7%.

Appeals

In Alabama, there is now a three-step appeals process for Social Security disability. Alabama used to require you to file a reconsideration request with DDS before you could request an appeal hearing before an administrative law judge (ALJ); however, this step was eliminated in an effort to increase the speed of the appeals process. You must tell Social Security in writing within 60 days of the initial denial that you wish to request a disability appeal hearing.

At the hearing level, the approval rates tend to be higher because disability applicants have the opportunity to answer any questions the ALJ may have about their case and provide witnesses who can attest to their disability and the limitations the disability causes. In Alabama, the approval rating at the hearing level is 61.6%; the national average is 58.6%. Despite a slightly higher approval rate, there is a longer waiting period in Alabama for hearings. The average wait time is 423 days, while the national average wait time is 348 days.

If you receive an unfavorable decision from the ALJ, you may appeal to the Appeals Council. If your case is denied by the Appeals Council, you may file a lawsuit in federal court. There are three district courts in Alabama- Northern District, Middle District, and Southern District. The district court that you file your lawsuit with generally depends on where you live.

Stage of Application

Alabama

Nationally

Initial Application

30.3%

31.7%

Reconsideration Review

not applicable

11.2%

Appeal Hearing

61.6%

58.5%

Hearing Wait Time

423 days

348 days

Monthly Payments for SSI

As a federal program, SSI recipients receive money from the federal government every month. As of 2012, the federal government pays $698 per individual and $1,048 per couple every month. Individual states can choose to provide additional monthly payments to their citizens in addition to the federal monthly payments. Alabama’s state supplemental monthly payment for SSI depends on the SSI recipient's living arrangements, according to the table below (IHC stands for independent home-life care, where the care provider is not an immediate relative and is employed by a certified home health agency).

 

Individual

Couple

IHC in a private home or a personal care home

$56-60

$112-120

IHC and support and maintenance in a private home or personal care home

$56-60

$112-120

Specialized IHC in a private home or personal care home

$60

$120

Specialized IHC and support and maintenance in a private home or personal care home

$60

$120

Cerebral palsy treatment center

$196

$392

In some situations, those who have too much countable income for SSI may also be able to receive this state supplementation payment. This monthly payment is administered by Alabama's various county departments of human resources.

Vocational Rehabilitation Services

Often times after the onset of a disability, individuals will need assistance preparing to get a job, finding a job, and keeping that job. There are two different services in Alabama that are available to help disabled individuals.

The Work Incentive Partnership Assistance Grant is provided by the Social Security Administration and is run by the State of Alabama. This program is tailored to individuals who are receiving Social Security Disability benefits and was created to help individuals get and keep jobs. Information regarding these services can be found on theAlabama Department of Rehabilitation Services website or by contacting Donna Bowden, Social Security Disability Program Specialists, at (800) 441-7607.

Additionally, the Alabama Department of Rehabilitation Services provides vocational services for all disabled individuals. There are 20 Vocational Rehabilitation Services (VRS) offices spread throughout Alabama to provide services. Contact information for the offices is below.

VRS District Office - Andalusia
1082 Village Square Drive, Suite 1
Andalusia, AL 36420
Phone: 334-222-4114

VRS District Office - Anniston
1910 Coleman Rd.
Annistion, AL 36207
Phone: 256-240-8800

VRS District Office - Columbiana
Community Services Building
P. O. Box 856
Columbiana, AL 35051-0856
Phone: 205-669-3829

VRS District Office - Decatur
621 Cherry Street, NE
Decatur, AL 35602
Phone: 256-353-2754

VRS District Office - Dothan
795 Ross Clark Circle, NE
Dothan, AL 36303
Phone: 334-699-8600

VRS District Office - Gadsden
1100 George Wallace Drive
Gadsden, AL 35903-6501
Phone: 256-547-6974

VRS District Office - Homewood
236 Goodwin Crest Drive
Birmingham, AL 35209
Phone: 205-290-4400

VRS District Office - Huntsville
3000 Johnson Road, SW
Huntsville, AL 35805-5847
Phone: 256-650-1700

VRS District Office - Jackson
1401 Forest Avenue
P.O. Box 1005
Jackson, AL 36545
Phone: 251-246-5708

VRS District Office - Jasper
301 N. Walston Bridge Road
Suite 116
Jasper, AL 35504

Phone: 205-221-7840

VRS District Office - Mobile
2419 Gordon Smith Drive
Mobile, AL 36617
Phone: 251-479-8611

VRS District Office - Montgomery
602 S. Lawrence St.
Montgomery, AL 36104
Phone: 334-293-7500

VRS District Office - Muscle Shoals
1450 East Avalon Avenue
Muscle Shoals, AL 35661
Phone: 256-381-1110

VRS District Office - Opelika
520 West Thomason Circle
Opelika, AL 36801
Phone: 334-749-1259

VRS District Office - Scottsboro
203 South Market Street
P.O. Box 296
Scottsboro, AL 35768-0296
Phone: 256-574-5813

VRS District Office - Selma
2906 Citizens Parkway
Selma, AL 36701
Phone: 334-872-8422

 

VRS District Office - Talladega
#4 Medical Office Park
PO BOX 128
Talladega, AL 35160
Phone: 256-362-1300

VRS District Office - Thomasville
Adams Building, Bashi Road
P.O. Box 1006
Thomasville, AL 36784-1006

Phone: 334-636-5421

VRS District Office - Troy
1109 Troy Plaza Street
Troy, AL 36081
Phone: 334-566-2491

VRS District Office - Tuscaloosa
1305 James I. Harrison Jr. Parkway East
Tuscaloosa, AL 35405
Phone: 205-554-1300

Disability Determination Services (DDS)

Alabama DDS has two offices to handle initial applications. Once your application is filed, you should direct all questions to you local DDS office. Below is the contact information for the offices.

Mobile Office
P.O. Box 2371
Mobile, AL 36615
Telephone: (251) 433-2820
Fax: (251) 436-0699

Birmingham Office
P.O. Box 830300
Birmingham, AL 35283
Telephone: (205) 989-210
Fax: (205) 989-2428

Office of Disability Adjudication and Review (ODAR)

ODAR is the department that handles all disability appeal hearings and Appeals Council administrative tasks. There is a regional office and five ODAR headquarters that serve Alabama. The regional office that services Alabama is located in Atlanta, GA. Of the ODAR headquarters, four of the offices are located within the state and one office is located in Tennessee. Below is the contact information for the regional and local offices.

Regional Office- Atlanta, GA
Atlanta Federal Center, Suite 20T10
61 Forsyth Street, S.W.
Atlanta, GA 30303
Telephone: (404) 562-1182
Fax: (404) 562-1152

Birmingham Headquarters
1200 Rev. Abraham Woods, Jr. Blvd.
1st Floor
Birmingham, AL 35285
Telephone: (866) 613-2863
Fax: (205) 801-2983
Services the following field offices: Albertville, Bessemer, Birmingham Downtown, Birmingham East, Gadsden, Jasper, Talladega, Tuscaloosa

Florence Headquarters
Walnut Street Executive Center
204 South Walnut Street, Suite D
Florence, AL 35630
Telephone: (866) 964-9978
Fax: (256) 764-6278
Services the following field offices: Cullman, Florence, Huntsville

Mobile Headquarters
550 Government St., Suite 200
Mobile, AL 36602
Telephone: (866) 563-4698
Fax: (251) 441-5993
Services the following field offices: Andalusia, Dothan, Fairhope, Jackson, Mobile

Montgomery Headquarters
4344 Carmichael Road, Suite 200
Montgomery, AL 36106
Telephone: (866) 931-9032
Fax: (334) 213-3696
Services the following field offices: Alexander City, Anniston, Montgomery, Opelika, Selma

Franklin, TN Headquarters
Suite 350
6840 Carothers Parkway
Franklin, TN 37067
Telephone: (866) 568-9450
Fax: (615) 771-0433
Services the Decatur field offices in AL

Alabama Disability Lawyers

Hiring a disability attorney can help you win your disability appeal (as can learning about the appeal process). To find a local disability lawyer who will taker your case, see our Alabama disability lawyers page.

by: , Contributing Author

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