If you live in Alaska and are unable to work due to illness or injury for at least a one-year period, you could be eligible to receive Social Security Disability (SSD) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits. These federal programs provide monthly cash payments to those who qualify.
To apply for disability benefits in Alaska, you’ll need to have a significant amount of information on hand, including details about the condition(s) that cause you to be unable to work, medical or psychiatric treatment you’ve obtained (including doctors' contact information), and your past employment and earnings. (Learn more about filing a disability claim.)
After you file your application, it will be sent to Alaska Disability Determination Services (DDS), a state-level agency under the Alaska Department of Labor and Workforce Development. There, a claims examiner, along with a medical professional, will decide whether you are disabled and eligible for Social Security benefits.
Approximately three to four months after you file for disability, you’ll receive a written decision in the mail. Around 44% of those who apply for Social Security disability in Alaska have their initial claims approved. In addition, a significant number are granted benefits at a later stage of the disability appeals process.
In most states, the first step in the Social Security appeals process is called reconsideration. However, Alaska is one of a few states chosen for a "prototype" test where this step has been eliminated. Although it's possible that the reconsideration step will return to Alaska disability claims at some point, as of now, those appealing a disability denial in Alaska will proceed directly to request a disability hearing.
As explained above, if your Alaska disability claim is denied, you can then request a disability hearing in front of an administrative law judge (ALJ). However, in Alaska, less than a quarter of these administrative hearings result in the disability applicant's being awarded benefits (the lowest approval rate in the country). It’s also likely that you’ll face a long wait before your hearing date. Although Alaska has one of the shorter waits in the nation, the average Alaska disability applicant waits seven months for their hearing.
At your Social Security hearing, you’ll have the chance to testify about your disability and why you can’t work. The ALJ might ask you questions about your prior employment or what you can and can’t do, and the SSA could hire a medical and/or vocational (employment) expert to give their opinions. In most cases, you’ll receive the judge’s decision in the mail within one month of your hearing.
If your disability hearing results in an unfavorable decision (you are denied benefits), there are two more steps in the SSD appeals process – an Appeals Council review, and the filing of a case in United States District Court of Alaska (federal court.) Few disability applicants have their claims approved at these levels, and you’ll need to retain a licensed attorney should you decide to file a court case as a result of your denied disability claim.
If you haven’t worked long enough, or recently enough, to qualify for Social Security Disability benefits, you could still be eligible to receive Supplemental Security Income (SSI) payments. SSI is a needs-based federal disability program and there are no earnings requirements. However, you do have to meet strict (and complex) asset and income limits to qualify for SSI benefits.
If you receive federal SSI benefits in Alaska, the state will pay an additional supplement each month. The amount of your SSI supplement in Alaska depends on your living arrangements. For example, if you live independently, your state SSI supplement will be $362 per month. If you live in the household of another, you will receive $368. If you reside in an assisted living facility, your SSI supplement will be $100 per month, and if you live in a Medicaid facility you will receive $45 per month.
You can locate your nearest SSA field office on the SSA’s website. Once your file has been sent to a DDS office, you should contact the Alaska DDS office with any questions or to check the status of your claim.
The primary responsibility of Disability Determination Services (DDS) is making decisions on Social Security disability and SSI disability claims. In Alaska, there is only one DDS location, in Juneau. You’ll find the contact information below.
801 West 10th Street
Juneau, AK 99801
Tel: (907) 465-2814 & 1-800-478-2815 (toll-free)
Fax: (907) 465-2856
Disability hearings in Alaska are held at the Office of Disability Adjudication and Review (ODAR) office in Anchorage. Contact information for the ODAR office in Alaska is listed below.
Anchorage Hearing Office
188 West Northern Lights Blvd.
Anchorage, AK 99513
Tel: (907) 271-6285
Fax: (907) 271-6271
Disabled Alaska residents who would like to return to work have access to a variety of services through the Department of Labor and Workforce Development. The DOLWD’s Division of Vocational Rehabilitation provides job search and placement assistance, training, referrals, counseling, and more. You can view the Alaska DOLWD website for more information, or contact them using the information below.
Alaska Department of Vocational Rehabilitation
801 West 10th Street
Juneau, AK 99801
Tel: (907) 465-2814
Fax: (907) 465-2815
It’s easy to become overwhelmed with the disability application and appeals process. If your disability application is denied, you should strongly consider appealing and hiring an Alaska disability lawyer to represent you at your hearing. An experienced Alaska Social Security disability attorney can increase your chances of winning your case. To find a lawyer in your area, see our Alaska Social Security disability lawyer page.
by: Alison Barjaktarovich, Contributing Author