If you live in Colorado and are become unable to work due to illness or injury, you could be eligible to receive Social Security Disability (SSD) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits. These federal programs provide monthly payments to those who are deemed “disabled” for at least one year.
To receive SSD benefits in Colorado, you must have paid enough Social Security taxes to be eligible (generally done through payroll deductions). If you lack the work history (and thus Social Security contributions) to be able to receive SSD, you might qualify for SSI if you have minimal assets and income.
If you live in Colorado and would like to apply for Social Security disability, you have a few options.
You can apply for disability in person by visiting your local Social Security office.
Approximately three to four months after you apply for disability, you’ll receive a written notice in the mail telling you whether you have been approved for benefits or your claim has been denied. Around three-quarters of those who apply for Social Security or SSI disability in Colorado receive a denial. However, many of these Colorado disability applicants are awarded disability benefits at a later stage in the appeals process.
In most states, the first step in the disability appeals process is to file a “Request for Reconsideration.” In that step, a different claims examiner reviews your file. However, the reconsideration step was eliminated in Colorado as part of a SSA prototype experimental program. In 2010, the SSA announced that they would be reinstating the reconsideration step in Colorado, but it is unclear when exactly this will happen. As of late 2012, reconsideration had not yet been reinstated.
Until the reconsideration step returns to the disability process in Colorado, you can appeal a disability denial by requesting a hearing in front of an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ). The average wait for a Social Security disability hearing in Colorado is 12 months from the date the hearing is requested, but your wait could be longer or shorter than this.
At your Colorado disability hearing, you will have the chance to speak directly to the ALJ, who will be the one deciding whether or not you’re eligible for Social Security benefits. He or she may ask you questions regarding your condition(s), previous employment, daily routine, and what you can or can’t do. There could be a doctor or vocational expert present to give their opinion about your case. You will receive the judge’s decision in the mail, usually within 30 days of your hearing. In rare instances, an ALJ will announce their decision at a disability hearing.
If you receive an “unfavorable” decision (your claim is denied) following your hearing, there are two more steps in the disability claim appeals process: the Appeals Council review and a federal court lawsuit in the US District Court for the District of Colorado.
Colorado residents who receive Supplemental Security Income (SSI) are eligible for an additional monthly payment from the state. SSI recipients who live on their own or in someone else’s household will receive $25 per month. SSI recipients who reside in an adult foster home or are receiving in-home care could receive a larger amount, ranging from $475 to $551 per month (as of 2011).
There are 17 Social Security field office locations in Colorado – you can find the nearest one by visiting Social Security's office locator.
Social Security utilizes state agencies to make decisions on disability claims in their state. In Colorado this is handled by the Colorado Disability Determination Services (DDS), which is under the Department of Human Services. Below is the contact information for the Colorado DDS office.
Colorado Disability Determination Services
3190 S. Vaughn Way
Aurora, CO, 80014
Tel: (303) 368-4100
Fax: (303) 752-5692
Social Security disability hearings in Colorado are held at one of the SSA’s Office of Disability Adjudication and Review (ODAR) offices (informally called hearing offices). There are two ODAR offices in Colorado, located in Denver and Colorado Springs.
Colorado Springs ODAR
Plaza of the Rockies
111 S. Tejon Street
Suite 401, North Tower
Colorado Springs, CO 80903
Tel: (888) 844-8269
Fax: (719) 634-1735
1244 Speer Boulevard, Suite 752
Denver, Colorado 80204-3584
Tel: (888) 383-8889
Fax: (303) 844-5817
The State of Colorado offers services to disabled workers who would like to return to work, through the Department of Human Services. The first step in Colorado’s vocational rehabilitation process is to complete an application through the Department of Vocational Rehab (DVR). For more information on vocational rehabilitation in Colorado, see the DVR’s website.
If you've been denied disability benefits in Colorado, you should consider hiring a disability lawyer to help you appeal. Consider hiring an experienced Social Security disability lawyer to assist you with your disability claim. You can find a local lawyer by going to our Colorado disability lawyers page.
by: Alison Barjaktarovich, Contributing Author