Filing for Disability in California

California adds the highest state supplementary payment to the SSI disability benefit (not to Social Security Disability Insurance Benefits).

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Social Security disability benefits, including Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI), are federal programs. While these disability programs are run by the federal government (the Social Security Administration), there are some differences in California. Below is an overview of the disability benefit process in California and some helpful resources and contact information.

The Social Security Disability Process in California

After you file an initial disability application with the local Social Security Administration (SSA) field office (or by telephone or online), the application is forwarded to the Disability Determination Service Division (DDSD), a state agency under the California Department of Social Services. A disability claims examiner at DDSD will make the medical determination as to whether you qualify for disability benefits. You can find contact information for the DDSD offices below.

If you are denied benefits, you can appeal by requesting that DDSD reconsider your claim. If DDSD denies you again, you can request an appeal hearing in front of an administrative law judge. (In the north and west areas of Los Angeles, you can skip the reconsideration stage and straight to an appeal hearing. Call the SSA at 800-772-1213 to find out whether reconsideration is required in your area.) 

Social Security Disability Statistics in California

California's approval rate for disability benefits is about the same as the national average for awarding of benefits. After filing the initial application, only 31% of disability applicants are approved to receive benefits. At the reconsideration level (the first level of appeal), 11.7% of the previously denied cases are approved. At the disability hearing level (the second level of appeal), 50.9% of the previously denied cases are approved for benefits (with a higher percentage of disability claimants who have a disability lawyer or representative winning benefits).

The average wait time in California for an ALJ hearing is 329 days, which is 13 days less than the national average for hearing wait times.

SSI Benefit Amounts in California

As SSI is a federal program, the federal government provides a monthly benefit to all who qualify. But the State of California adds a supplementary payment onto the monthly federal benefits. This extra payment affects not only the amount of SSI you'll get but also your eligibility for SSI (because it raises the income limit for SSI).

In 2014, the federal government provided the following monthly benefits to SSI disability recipients with no other income:

 

Federal Monthly SSI Benefit

Individual

$721

Couple

$1,082

And California provides the following additional benefits depending on your living situation:

 

CA Monthly Benefit

Total Monthly Benefit (CA and Federal)

Living independently with cooking Facilities

Individual: $156

Couple: $396

Individual: $877

Couple: $1,478

Living independently without cooking facilities

Individual: $240

Couple: $564

Individual: $961

Couple: $1,646

Living in nonmedical out-of-home care situation

Individual: $412

Couple: $1,184

Individual: $1,133

Couple: $2,266

Living in the household of another

Individual: $160

Couple: $402

Individual: $641

Couple: $1,123

 



Vocational Rehabilitation Services

If you are in need of services to help you attempt to return to work while on disability (or if your benefits are terminated), California provides services through the California Department of Rehabilitation (DOR). There are over 85 field offices throughout the state; below is the contact information for some of the central offices. Information about the office closest to you can also be found at www.dor.ca.gov.

Greater East Bay

1485 Enea Court, Suite 1100
Concord, CA 94520-5228
Phone: (925) 602-3953

San Francisco

301 Howard Street, Suite 700
San Francisco, CA 94105-6604
Phone: (415) 904-7100

San Jose

100 Paseo de San Antonio
Room 324
San Jose, CA 95113-1479
Phone: (408) 277-1355

Greater Los Angeles

3333 Wilshire Blvd. Suite, 200
Los Angeles, CA 90010-4101
Phone: (213) 736-3904

Los Angeles South Bay

4300 Long Beach Boulevard,
Suite 200
Long Beach, CA 90807-2008
Phone: (562) 422-8325

If you have any difficulties with DOR, you may contact the Client Assistance Program (CAP) for help. They can be contacted at 800-952-5544.

How to Contact the DDSD

California's DDSD makes the initial decision regarding whether or not you will receive disability benefits. They have 11 branches throughout California.

San Diego Branch

P.O. Box 85326
San Diego, CA 92186-5326
Phone: (619) 278-4300

La Jolla Branch

P.O. Box 85501
San Diego, CA 92186-5501
Phone: (619) 278-4550

Sacramento Branch

P.O. Box 997120
Sacramento, CA 95899-7120
Phone: (916) 263-5000

Roseville Branch

P.O. Box 619020
Roseville, CA 95678-9861
Phone: (916) 774-4100

Oakland Branch

P.O. Box 24225
Oakland, CA 94623-1225
Phone: (510) 622-3506

Los Angeles West Branch

P.O. Box 60999
Los Angeles, CA 90060-0999
Phone: (213) 736-7500

Los Angeles North Branch

P.O. Box 54800
Los Angeles, CA 90054-0800
Phone: (213) 736-7000

Sierra Branch

P.O. Box 28937
Fresno, CA 93720-8937
Phone: (559) 440-5200

Central Valley Branch

P.O. Box 28931
Fresno, CA 93729-9835
Phone: (559) 440-5000

Covina Branch

P.O. Box 6118
Covina, CA 91722-6118
Phone: (213) 736-7900

How to Contact a Hearing Office in California

The Office of Disability Adjudication and Review (ODAR) handles all hearings. Their regional headquarters are located in San Francisco. There are also hearing offices in many other cities.

SSA, Office of Disability Adjudication and Review

5th Floor
555 Battery Street
San Francisco, California 94111
Phone: (866) 964-7584
Fax: (415) 705-2020

In addition, there are 18 ODAR offices that service California. One office is located in Arizona, but services a California location (El Centro).

Downey

8345 Firestone Boulevard
Suite 210
Downey, California 90241
Phone: (877) 870-6385
Fax: (562) 869-8943

Services the following Social Security field offices: Compton, Downey, Huntington Park, Norwalk, Watts, and Whittier

Fresno

2440 Tulare Street, Suite 300
Fresno, California 93721
Phone: (866) 596-7568
Fax: (559) 443-1281

Services the following field offices: Bakersfield, Bakersfield-East Hills, Delano, Fresno, Hanford, Madera, Merced, Porterville, Southeast Fresno, Visalia, and West Fresno (as well as Grand Island, Nebraska)

Long Beach

Federal Building, Suite 5300
501 West Ocean Boulevard
Long Beach, California 90802
Phone: (562) 980-4116
Fax: (562) 980-4131

Services the following field offices: Lakewood, Long Beach, and Torrance

Los Angeles (Downtown)

City National Bank Building, Suite 1200
606 South Olive Street
Los Angeles, California 90014
Phone: (213) 894-2669
Fax: (213) 894-2595

Services the following field offices: Boyle Heights, Crenshaw, Inglewood, Los Angeles Downtown, Montebello, University Village, and Wilshire Center

Los Angeles (West)

Suite 400
12121 Wilshire Boulevard
Los Angeles, California 90024
Phone: (866) 748-2089
Fax: (310) 479-3370

Services the following field offices: Chatsworth, Los Angeles Westwood, Media Cities, Santa Clarita, and Van Nuys

Moreno Valley

22690 Cactus Avenue
3rd Floor
Moreno Valley, California 92553
Phone: (866) 737-4503
Fax: (951) 867-3779

Oakland

Oakland Federal Building, Suite 200N
1301 Clay Street
Oakland, California 94612
Phone: (866) 366-4916
Fax: (510) 637-3424

Services the following field offices: Antioch, Berkeley, East Oakland, Fremont, Hayward/Livermore (merged), Oakland, Richmond, San Leandro, and Walnut Creek (as well as Eau Claire and Rice Lake, Wisconsin)

Orange

Centrum North, Suite 600
1120 West La Veta Avenue
Orange, California 92868
Phone: (866) 593-1447
Fax: (714) 246-8271

Services the following field offices: Anaheim, Brea, Corona, Fountain Valley, Garden Grove, Missions Viejo, Ontario, Pomona Valley, and San Anar

Pasadena

Pasadena Towers 1
800 E. Colorado Blvd., Suite 500
Pasadena, California 91101
Phone: (866) 354-0220
Fax: (626) 793-3080

Services the following field offices: Alhambra, El Monte, Glendale, Glendora, Pasadena, and West Covina

Sacramento

Suite 250
1610 Arden Way
Sacramento, California 95815
Phone: (866) 931-2544
Fax: (916) 925-5014

Services the following field offices: Auburn, Chico, Feather River, Oroville, Placerville, Redding, Roseville, Sacramento, Sacramento (North), Sacramento (South), Sacramento (West), and Susanville

San Bernardino

Suite 200
605 North Arrowhead Avenue
San Bernardino, California 92401
Phone: (866) 331-7127
Fax: (909) 381-9288

Services the following field offices: Barstow, Blythe, Fontana, Hemet, Indio, Moreno Valley, Morongo Basin, Redlands, and Victorville

San Diego

525 B Street, 8th Floor
San Diego, California 92101
Phone: (866) 331-2294
Fax: (619) 557-6733

Services the following field offices: Chula Vista, El Cajon, Kearny Mesa, La Mesa, National City, San Diego, and San Marcos

San Francisco

Equity Building, 16th Floor
301 Howard Street
San Francisco, California 94105
Phone: 866-770-1221
Fax: (415) 744-2548

Services the following field offices: Bakersfield, Bakersfield-East Hills, Chinatown, Crescent City, Daly City, Mission, San Francisco - Downtown, and San Mateo

San Jose

RSP Federal Building, Suite 330
280 South First Street
San Jose, California 95113-3086
Phone: (866) 331-2219
Fax: (408) 535-5286

Services the following field offices: Campbell, Gilroy, Mountain View, Redwood City, Salinas, San Jose, San Jose East, San Jose South, Santa Cruz, and Watsonville

San Rafael

Suite 230
4040 Civic Center Drive
San Rafael, California 94903
Phone: (866) 814-3559
Fax: (415) 472-5824

Services the following field offices: Eureka, Fairfield, Lakeport, Napa, Ukiah, and Vallejo

Santa Barbara

Suite 206
222 East Carrillo Street
Santa Barbara, California 93101
Phone: (866) 273-4953
Fax: (805) 564-3404

Services the following field offices: Chatsworth, Oxnard, San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara, Santa Maria, Thousand Oaks, and Ventura

Stockton

3116 W. March Lane, Suite 100
Stockton, California 95219
Phone: (866) 494-3136
Fax: (209) 477-3394

Services the following field offices: Lodi, Manteca, Modesto, Sonora, and Stockton

Tucson

Rio Nuevo Professional Plaza, Suite 265
201 N. Bonita Ave.
Tucson, Arizona 85745
Phone: (888) 383-8694
Fax: (520) 670-6909

Services the El Centro Social Security field office in California

Short-Term Disability

California has a short-term disability insurance (SDI) program that provides eight to ten weeks of benefits for those who are ill or injured and unable to work. The SDI benefit is 55% of your normal wages. California's paid family leave program also provides up to six weeks of paid leave. For more information, see our article on California short-term disability.

Getting Legal Help

If you're considering hiring a disability lawyer, see our California disability lawyer page.

by: , Contributing Author

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