If you are living in the state of Colorado and you have a qualifying disability that prevents you from working, you may be eligible for disability benefits from the Social Security Administration (SSA).
These benefits can provide you with monthly income and medical coverage to help you cope with your condition.
However, applying for disability benefits can be a complex and lengthy process that requires a lot of documentation and evidence.
In this article, I will explain how to claim Colorado disability benefits, what are the eligibility criteria, what are the types of benefits available, and what are the steps involved in the application process.
What are the Eligibility Criteria for Colorado Disability Benefits?
To qualify for Colorado disability benefits, you must meet two main criteria: medical and financial.
- Medical criteria: You must have a physical or mental impairment that is expected to last at least 12 months or result in death, and that prevents you from performing any substantial gainful activity (SGA). SGA is defined as earning more than $1,310 per month in 2023 for non-blind individuals and $2,190 per month for blind individuals. The SSA has a list of impairments that are considered disabling, known as the Blue Book. However, even if your condition is not listed in the Blue Book, you may still qualify for disability benefits if you can prove that your impairment is equivalent in severity to a listed condition.
- Financial criteria: You must also meet the income and asset limits for the type of benefit you are applying for. There are two types of disability benefits: Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI). SSDI is based on your work history and the amount of Social Security taxes you have paid. To be eligible for SSDI, you must have earned enough work credits in the past 10 years. The number of work credits you need depends on your age at the time of disability. In general, you need 40 work credits, 20 of which must have been earned in the last 10 years. SSI is based on your financial need and does not require any work history. To be eligible for SSI, you must have a low income and limited resources. In 2023, the income limit for SSI is $794 per month for an individual and $1,191 per month for a couple. The resource limit for SSI is $2,000 for an individual and $3,000 for a couple.
What are the Types of Colorado Disability Benefits?
Depending on your eligibility, you may receive one or both of the following types of Colorado disability benefits:
- SSDI: SSDI provides monthly cash payments to disabled workers and their eligible dependents. The amount of SSDI you receive depends on your average lifetime earnings and the number of dependents you have. SSDI also provides Medicare coverage after 24 months of receiving benefits.
- SSI: SSI provides monthly cash payments to disabled individuals who have low income and limited resources. The amount of SSI you receive depends on your income, living arrangements, and other factors. However, some states supplement the federal SSI payment with additional funds. In Colorado, the state supplement is $31.33 per month for an individual and $62.66 per month for a couple. SSI also provides Medicaid coverage immediately upon approval.
How to Apply for Colorado Disability Benefits?
To apply for Colorado disability benefits, you need to complete an application form and submit it to the SSA along with supporting documents. You can apply online, by phone, or in person at your local Social Security office.
- Online: You can apply online at https://www.ssa.gov/applyfordisability/. This option is only available for SSDI applicants who are 18 or older and are not currently receiving any Social Security benefits.
- Phone: You can call 1-800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800-325-0778) to schedule an appointment with a representative who will help you complete your application over the phone or send you the necessary forms by mail.
- In person: You can visit your nearest Social Security office to apply in person. You can find your local office by using this online tool: https://secure.ssa.gov/ICON/main.jsp.
Regardless of how you apply, you will need to provide the following information and documents:
- Social Security number and proof of age (such as a birth certificate or passport)
- Work history and earnings records for the past 15 years (such as W-2 forms, tax returns, or pay stubs)
- Medical history and records for the past 12 months (such as doctor’s reports, test results, treatment plans, or prescriptions)
- Bank account information for direct deposit of your benefits
- Contact information and the names and addresses of your doctors, employers, and other sources of information
What Happens After You Apply for Colorado Disability Benefits?
After you submit your application, the SSA will review it and determine if you meet the basic eligibility criteria for SSDI or SSI.
If you do, your application will be forwarded to the Colorado Disability Determination Services (DDS), a state agency that evaluates your medical condition and decides if you are disabled according to the SSA’s rules.
The DDS will contact you, your doctors, and other sources of information to gather more evidence about your impairment and its impact on your ability to work. The DDS may also ask you to attend a consultative examination (CE) with a doctor or a specialist who will evaluate your condition. The CE is free of charge and arranged by the DDS.
The DDS will make a decision based on all the available evidence and send it back to the SSA. The SSA will then notify you by mail of the decision and the reasons for it. The decision can be one of the following:
The process of applying for Colorado disability benefits can take several months or even years depending on the complexity of your case, the availability of evidence, and the backlog of cases at each level.
Therefore, it is important to apply as soon as possible after you become disabled and to provide accurate and complete information and documents to support your claim.
You should also keep track of your application status and respond promptly to any requests or notices from the SSA or the DDS.