Filing for Disability in Alabama

Alabama has its own state agency that determines disability, different approval and denial rates, and an extra payment for some SSI recipients.

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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 at Alabama DDS Offices

You file your disability application for Social Security disability benefits at your local Social Security office or, for SSDI only, online. 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 31% of the time, while the national average for approvals on initial applications is 35%.

Appeals at Alabama's Hearing Offices

Alabama's three-step appeals process for Social Security disability changed to a four-step appeals process in October 2019. Alabama added a "reconsideration" step of the appeals process. Before you can request an appeal hearing before an administrative law judge (ALJ), you have to request that DDS reconsider your application. DDS will give your application to a different claims examiner than the one that denied your claim at the initial application stage. Nationally, only 14% of claims are approved at the reconsideration stage.

If your claim is denied at the reconsideration stage, you must tell Social Security in writing within 60 days of the 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 56%; the national average is 45%. Not only do Alabama hearing offices have a higher approval rate, there is a shorter waiting period in Alabama for hearings. The average wait time is 16 months, while the national average wait time is almost 19 months.

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 Approval

31%

35%

Reconsideration Approval

not yet available

13%

Hearing Approval

56%

45%

Hearing Wait Time

16 months

19 months

Monthly Payments for SSI

As a federal program, SSI recipients receive money from the federal government every month. As of 2019, the federal government pays $771 per individual and $1,157 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

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 county departments of human resources.

Disability Determination Services (DDS)

Alabama DDS has two offices to handle initial applications. Once your application is filed, you should direct all questions to your 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 Hearings Operations (OHO)

OHO is the department that handles all disability appeal hearings. There are four OHO offices that serve Alabama. Below is the contact information for the hearing offices.

Birmingham OHO
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 OHO
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 OHO
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 OHO
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

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 the Alabama 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.

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 take your case, see our Alabama disability lawyers page.

Updated October 8, 2019

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