If you live in Louisiana and can’t work for at least a year due to illness or injury, you could be eligible for Social Security disability (SSD) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits. In order to qualify for SSD, you must have earned a certain number of “work credits.” SSI is a needs-based disability program. While these federal benefit programs are administered by the Social Security Administration (SSA), there are some differences in disability claim procedure and timing in Louisiana that you should know about.
You can apply for disability benefits one of three ways:
If you’re applying for SSI, you can do so in-person or via telephone, but the SSI application is not available online.
Around 68% of those who apply for disability in Louisiana have their claims denied. It takes an average of three to four months for this decision to arrive, and once received, you have 60 days to appeal a disability denial.
In most states, the first SSD appeal is called a “Request for Reconsideration.” However, Louisiana is one of a few “prototype” states where this step has been eliminated. Although reconsideration may return in Louisiana in the future, as of now, someone whose initial disability claim has been denied goes straight to the next step in the appeals process – the disability hearing.
Although Louisiana has one of the lowest hearing wait-times in the nation, there will likely be several months between when you request a disability hearing and when your hearing take place. The average wait for a disability hearing in Louisiana is seven months.
At your Social Security hearing, the administrative law judge (ALJ) who has been assigned to your case will ask you questions about your past employment, your illnesses or injuries, and what you do on a daily basis. Sometimes the SSA hires a doctor or vocational (employment) expert to give an opinion on your case.
You will receive the judge’s decision in writing within 30 days of your hearing date. Around 50% of Louisiana Social Security disability hearings result in the claimant (applicant) receiving a favorable decision.
If the ALJ doesn’t rule in your favor, there are two more steps in the SSA appeals process.
You can request that the SSA’s Appeals Council review the judge’s decision to determine if the ALJ made an error. However, relatively few decisions are overturned by the Appeals Council.
If you haven't been successful after requesting the Appeals Council review your case, you can file a disability case in federal court. You’re required to be represented by a licensed attorney to take this step, and disability claims that reach this level generally involve complex legal or procedural issues.
Some states pay substantial monthly supplements beyond the SSI payment the federal government makes. However, Louisiana offers only a small monthly supplemental payment to SSI recipients who reside in Medicaid long-term care facilities. The amount of the Louisiana SSI supplement is $8 per person.
Disability hearings for Louisiana residents are held at one of four Office of Adjudication & Review (ODAR) offices, depending on where you live.
3403 Government Street
Alexandria, LA 71302
Fax: (318) 448-9842
Galleria Building, Suite 2000
1 Galleria Blvd.
Metairie, LA 70001
Fax: (504) 219-8917
Louisiana Tower, Suite 700
401 Edwards St.
Shreveport, LA 71101
Fax: (318) 676-3889
New Orleans ODAR
1515 Poydras St.
New Orleans, LA 70112
Fax: (504) 589-4585
Louisiana Disability Determinations Services (DDS) is the state agency that is responsible for determining whether or not Louisiana disability applicants are eligible for benefits. DDS is operated by the Department of Children & Family Services, Economic Stability Office. There are three Louisiana DDS offices, listed below.
Baton Rouge DDS
5825 Florida Blvd., Room 2110
Baton Rouge, LA 70806
2920 Knight St., Ste. 232
Shreveport, LA 71105
New Orleans Area DDS
3510 N. Causeway Blvd., Ste. 301
Metairie, LA 70002
Disabled Louisiana residents have access to a variety of services designed to help them get and maintain employment through the Workforce Commission in the department of Louisiana Rehabilitation Services. This includes job readiness evaluations, vocational training, medical therapeutic services, career counseling, and job placement assistance. Louisiana Rehab Services has 15 locations throughout the state – you can use the directory on the LRS website to locate the closest one -www.lawworks.net-ofc.directory. Contact information for the state LRS office is below.
Louisiana Rehabilitation Services
627 North 4th Street
Baton Rouge, LA 70802
Tel: (225) 219-2225
Fax: (225) 219-4993
If you have questions about your disability claim or you were denied benefits, an experienced Louisiana disability lawyer can help. See our Louisiana disability lawyers page to arrange a free consultation with a lawyer on your area.
by: Alison Barjaktarovich, Contributing Author