Filing for Social Security Disability in Wisconsin

Wisconsin residents have a better chance of getting SSDI or SSI benefits than the national average.

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If you live in Wisconsin and are unable to work for at least a year, you could be eligible for Social Security disability (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits. Those who have worked and paid into the Social Security system in recent years may qualify for SSDI benefits, while Wisconsin residents who have minimal to no past earnings could be eligible for SSI if they have limited income and assets.

Filing for Social Security Disability in Wisconsin

The Social Security Administration (SSA) is the federal agency that administers both Social Security disability and SSI benefits. The SSA offers multiple ways to apply for disability benefits, including:

  • Visiting an SSA branch office to apply in person. You can find the nearest Social Security office in Wisconsin by visiting the SSA office locator.
  • Calling the SSA at 800-772-1213. You can apply for disability benefits via the telephone or set up an appointment to apply for Social Security in person (which may cut down on your wait time at the local SSA office.)
  • Applying for Social Security disability online at www.ssa.gov. (Note: Most people can't apply for SSI online.)

Disability decisions arrive in writing an average of three to four months after the application is submitted (but it can take longer).

Appealing a Disability Denial in Wisconsin

Unfortunately, the majority of those who apply for disability in Wisconsin receive a denial, meaning they are not eligible for Social Security disability benefits. However, Wisconsin residents have a better chance of getting benefits than the national average.

Here are the percentages for those approved at each stage of the process.

Stage of Application

Wisconsin

Nationally

Initial Application

37% approval

35% approval

Reconsideration Review

19% approval

13% approval

Appeal Hearing

51% approval

45% approval

Hearing Wait Time

16 months

16 months

The most common reason for a disability denial is insufficient medical evidence (such as medical records) to prove a long-term serious disability.

Request for Reconsideration

If your application for disability benefits is denied, you can appeal the decision by filing a "Request for Reconsideration" form with the DDB (see below). Your claim will be reviewed by someone other than the examiner who initially denied it, and you should find out a decision in approximately two to three months.

Denied Again? Request a Disability Hearing

If, after reconsideration, your disability claim is again denied (as most claims are), the next step is to request a hearing before an administrative law judge (ALJ). The wait for a disability hearing can be long – the average wait in Wisconsin is 16 months. When your hearing date arrives, you'll have the chance to speak directly to the person who will be deciding whether or not you're eligible for disability: the ALJ. He or she will ask you questions, and there could be an expert witness (a doctor or vocational expert) who will provide an opinion on your disability case. You should receive the judge's decision in writing within 30 days of your hearing.

If You're Denied Benefits After Your Disability Hearing

If the disability judge rules against you and you receive another denial, there are two more steps in the appeals process. First, you can ask the SSA's Appeals Council to review your claim. If that's unsuccessful, you can file a case in federal court. However, relatively few Wisconsin disability claims are approved at these last two levels.

Wisconsin SSI Supplement

If you live in Wisconsin and are approved for SSI benefits, you'll receive an additional monthly payment from the state. The amount of this state SSI supplement depends on your living arrangements, but for most Wisconsin SSI recipients who don't live with their spouse or in a nursing home, the state payment will be $83.78. For couples, the supplement is $132.05.

Wisconsin DDB Office

The Wisconsin Disability Determination Bureau (DDB) is the state agency that's responsible for making the initial decisions on disability claims. Although the SSA processes disability applications, DDB claims examiners and medical professionals employed by the DDB decide whether or not to approve your disability claim. (Note that on this website we refer to this agency as Disability Determination Services (DDS), since that's what most states call this agency.) Here is the DDB's contact information.

Wisconsin Disability Determination Bureau (DDB)
P.O. Box 7886
Madison, WI 53707
Tel: 800-423-1938
Fax: 800-423-1939

OHO Disability Hearing Offices in Wisconsin

The SSA holds disability hearings at the Office of Hearings Operations (OHO). (The hearings offices were formerly called the Office of Disability Adjudication and Review, or ODAR.) There are two OHO offices in Wisconsin – Madison and Milwaukee. Their contact information is listed below.

Madison OHO

2501 W. Beltline Highway
Suite 305
Madison, WI, 53713
Tel: (877) 600-2854
Fax: (608) 271-7688

Milwaukee OHO
310 West Wisconsin Avenue
Room 300W
Milwaukee, WI 53203
Tel: (866) 495-0039
Fax: (414) 297-1993

Wisconsin Vocational Rehabilitation Services

Disabled Wisconsin residents who want to return to work can contact the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development (DWD) for assistance. The Wisconsin DWD offers services that include job training, employment counseling, and help obtaining disability-related accommodations. There are numerous DWD and job center locations located throughout Wisconsin. You can find more information on their website at www.dwd.wisconsin.gov/dvr.

Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development
201 E. Washington
Madison, WI, 53707
Tel: (608) 261-0050
Fax: (608) 266-1133

Assistance With your Wisconsin Disability Case

An experienced Wisconsin Social Security disability lawyer can assist you with all aspects of your disability claim. If you're considering applying for Social Security, or have already had your disability claim denied, contact a Wisconsin disability attorney to arrange a free consultation.

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