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If you’re a disabled person and a resident of Washington DC, you have access to both federal Social Security benefits and district-run benefits. On the federal level, you may qualify for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI).
On the district level, DC residents have access to services for people with developmental and intellectual disabilities through the Developmental Disabilities Administration (DDA). The DDA provides advocacy work to provide housing access, services for young adults with disabilities, COVID-19 pandemic assistance, and independent living services.
Residents, as well as federal employees, may also wish to contact the DC Coalition of Disability Service Providers, a local advocate for disability rights.
While those in Washington DC may qualify for federal disability benefits through SSDI and SSI, each program is administered by a state agency. This is done by the District’s Disability Determination Division (DDD) who processes all claims sent through the SSA. Washington DC has three Social Security offices and one Office of Hearings and Appeals (OHA).
Facts About Washington DC Disability
Washington DC’s disability rates are lower than the national average with around 24% of residents having some kind of disability.
Unfortunately, many in the District of Columbia go without disability services. Over the last ten years, D.C.’s rate of approval for first-time claims has steadily fallen, meaning more residents aren’t getting much-needed benefits.
The most common types of disabilities D.C. residents have are mobility-related, like MS or being wheelchair-bound, or cognitive-related, such as bipolar disorder or other serious mental health conditions.
How To Qualify for SSDI in Washington DC
Applicants for SSDI in Washington DC must meet the same criteria as those across the nation. These guidelines are set by the SSA and generally fall into two main requirements: You must have worked for long enough to pay into Social Security, and your disability must be concerned “severe.”
Most people must have worked for at least ten years to pay sufficiently into the SSA fund. You may be able to obtain a waiver if you have a significant disability that has made it impossible to hold steady employment.
You can be currently employed and still be eligible for benefits, but there are income caps. Currently, you cannot earn over $1,310 a month and still receive a benefit.
The SSA has compiled a comprehensive list of disabilities considered severe enough to limit your ability to perform work for at least 12 months or end in death. All applicants should check this list to ensure their disability is on it, as it is much more difficult to qualify if it’s not included.
Potential recipients should also note they are protected from disability discrimination at the workplace through current disability legislation. All workers have the right to reasonable accommodation by their employer to help complete their job duties.
How To Apply for SSDI in Washington DC
There are three ways to file for Social Security Disability: online, over the phone, or in person. Those wishing to apply online can submit an application online at the federal Social Security site, and the information will be forwarded to DDD.
Over the phone, you can call the federal Social Security office at 800-772-1213. Or, you can call and make an appointment to visit one of D.C.’s three field offices located in Anacostia, Postal Plaza, and downtown Washington DC.
Before applying for benefits, you should gather pertinent information to include in your application. While the documentation needed will differ from person to person, there are some general guidelines you can follow.
You will be asked to provide basic personal information about yourself, your spouse, and any children, including date and place of birth, and marriage and divorce records. Disabled veterans should also include any military records.
You will also need to bring medical evidence including test results, medications, and contact information for doctors and clinics you’ve received treatment for regarding your disability.
How To Appeal a Denial in Washington DC
Although D.C.’s initial approval rate is slightly higher than the national average (38% compared with 35%), that still means the majority of applicants will not receive benefits with their first application. Since you will likely need to appeal the first decision, it’s good to familiarize yourself with the appeals process.
In the District of Columbia, there are four levels of the appeals process for filing a claim: reconsideration, hearing, Appeals Council, and federal court. Each step must be completed in order, and must be initiated within 60 days of the preceding denial.
Step 1: Reconsideration – The first step is to request to have a new SSA representative from the DDD review the details of your initial claim to make a revised determination. In D.C., 12% of reconsideration requests end in approval.
Step 2: Disability Hearing – If your reconsideration was denied, you can then request a hearing with an administrative law judge that will be scheduled at the D.C. hearing office at 1227 25th Street N.W. An individual may choose to employ a lawyer familiar with disability law as you will often need to bring additional evidence or witnesses to support your claim. Forty-five percent of cases are approved at this stage.
Step 3: Appeals Council – If your hearing was unsuccessful, you will then request the Social Security Appeals Council review your case. This council will look at prior decisions to decide if those rulings should be upheld or overturned.
Step 3: Federal Court – Your last option is to file a lawsuit with the district federal court. You will likely need to retain an attorney at this point.
More Washington DC Benefits
Supplemental Security Income (SSI) is another disability program run by the SSA for low-income residents of Washington DC. Unlike SSDI, you don’t necessarily have to have a disability to qualify for benefits. SSI is available to any senior citizen 65+ with or without a disability, and to those of any age who are blind or have a disability. You will also need to meet low-income requirements.
Washington DC Medicaid
If you are receiving SSI benefits, you are automatically eligible for Washington DC Medicaid. Medicaid is a joint federal and state program that provides medical insurance benefits for individuals who meet certain income requirements.
Washington DC Unemployment
Washington DC Unemployment benefits provide financial help to any person who has lost their job through no fault of their own. The program pays up to $444 a week for up to 26 weeks.
Washington, D.C. Social Security Offices
|SSA Field Office Locations in Washington, D.C.|
|DC Downtown SSA Office||1300 D St SW|
Washington, DC 20024
|Anacostia DC SSA Office||2041 MLK Jr Ave SE Ste 130|
Washington, DC 20020
|Postal Plaza DC SSA Office||1905-B 9th St NE|
Postal Plaza Shpg Ctr
Washington, DC 20018
Washington, D.C. Hearing and Appeal Offices
Washington, D.C. is in Region 3 (Philadelphia), which services Delaware, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Virginia, West Virginia, and District of Columbia.
The District of Columbia Hearing Office services the areas of Anacostia, “M” Street, Postal Plaza, Shepard’s Park, Camp Springs MD, Charlotte Hall MD, Greenbelt MD, Rockville MD, Silver Spring MD, Alexandria VA, Arlington VA, Fairfax VA, and Manassas VA.
|Region 3 – SSA Office of Hearing Operations in Washington, D.C.|
|SSA Hearing Office – Washington||1227 25th Street N.W. 3rd Floor|
Washington, DC 20037