Filing for Social Security Disability in Wisconsin

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

By , Contributing Author
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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 insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits. People who have worked and paid into the Social Security system in recent years can qualify for SSDI benefits, while Wisconsin residents who have little to no past earnings could be eligible for SSI if they have limited income and assets.

How Do I File 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 by phone or you can 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.

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

How Do I Appeal a Disability Denial in Wisconsin?

The majority of people who apply for disability in Wisconsin initially receive a denial, meaning they're not eligible for Social Security disability benefits. The most common reason for a disability denial is insufficient medical evidence (such as medical records) to prove a serious long-term disability. But Wisconsin residents can request a reconsideration of the denial, and, if they're denied again, they can request a hearing.

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 Disability Determination Bureau (see below). Your claim will be reviewed by someone other than the claims 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), your next step is to request a hearing before an administrative law judge (ALJ). The wait for a disability hearing can be long—in 2022, the average wait in Wisconsin is seven 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. The judge will ask you and a vocational expert to answer specific questions about your limitations. 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 (AC) to review your claim. If your appeal to the AC is unsuccessful, you can file a case in federal court. Relatively few Wisconsin disability claims are approved at these last two levels.

What Are My Chances of Getting Approved for Benefits in Wisconsin?

In Wisconsin, almost two-thirds of initial applications get denied—the same number that gets denied nationally.

But Wisconsin residents have a much higher chance of approval during a reconsideration than the national average. And those who are denied again have a pretty good chance for approval at the hearing stage.

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

Stage of Application

Wisconsin

Nationally

Initial Application

38% approval

36% approval

Reconsideration Review

22% approval

13% approval

Appeal Hearing

51% approval

51% approval

Average Hearing Wait Time

7 months

10 months

How Much Is the SSI Supplement in Wisconsin?

If you live in Wisconsin and are approved for SSI benefits, you'll receive a small additional monthly payment from the state in addition to your federal SSI payments.

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.

The federal SSI program pays $841 for an eligible individual, so an individual living in Wisconsin can receive a total of $924.78 with the supplement. Couples living in Wisconsin can receive a total of $1,393.05, because the federal payment for couples is $1,261.

Wisconsin's Disability Determination Bureau

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, claims examiners and medical professionals employed by the DDB decide whether or not to approve your disability claim. (Note that, elsewhere 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 in Wisconsin:

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

Social Security judges hold 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
3rd Floor
Madison, WI, 53713
Tel: (877) 600-2854
Fax: (833) 330-0038

Services the following Social Security field offices: Eau Claire, Janesville, La Crosse, Lancaster, Madison, Portage, Rhinelander, Rice Lake, Wausau, and Wisconsin Rapids

Milwaukee OHO
310 West Wisconsin Avenue
Room 300W
Milwaukee, WI 53203
Tel: (866) 495-0039
Fax: (833) 559-0772

Services the following Social Security field offices: All Milwaukee offices, plus Appleton, Fond du Lac, Green Bay, Greenfield, Kenosha, Manitowoc, Marinette, Oshkosh, Racine, Sheboygan, Waukesha, and West Bend

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 Avenue
Madison, WI, 53707
Tel: (608) 261-0050
Fax: (608) 266-1133

Where Can I Get Help With My Wisconsin Disability Claim?

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.

Updated August 12, 2022

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