Chances are good that you or someone you know is affected by a debilitating medical condition. In the United States, millions of residents suffer from thousands of different diagnoses that leave them immobilized, in pain, and unable to work.
Luckily, for those affected, Social Security disability benefits can help ease the financial burden of living with these medical conditions.
There are two types of disability benefits offered by the U.S. Social Security Administration (SSA)—Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI). The application process for both of these programs can be—and oftentimes is—very long and challenging. On top of this, approximately 1/3 (only 35%) of all initial disability benefits applications are approved by the SSA in 2022. Approximately 13% of applications were approved at the reconsideration stage (i.e. the first appeal stage), and 54% of disability claims were approved at the hearing stage (the second—and typically the—last appeal stage).
The graphic below shows the top 10 states with the highest Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) disability hearing approval rates in 2022.
Top 5 Best States for Disability Benefits
Below are the top five states most likely to approve disability applications:
#5 Tennessee: 54% Approval Rating
As of the 2013 statewide Disability Census, 15.5% of all-aged residents in Tennessee reported having a disability of some sort, compared to the 12.7% rate of disability in the United States as a whole.
Over 30% of residents over 65 and 55% of residents over 75 reported having a disability that hindered them in some way, one of the highest percentages in the country.
Tennessee also ranks high in disability funding, programs, and rights, with multiple organizations like Disability Rights TN providing assistance to residents in need.
#4 New Jersey: 56% Approval Rating
According to the 2012 Disability Status Report, 10.3% of persons all-ages reported having a disability of some sort, a lower percentage than that of the country as a whole. With their approval rating at 56%, more than half of disability applicants of all ages receive benefits from Social Security.
New Jersey also touts a very-successful statewide Temporary Disability Insurance program and over 15 non-profits dedicated to helping those with disabling medical conditions.
#3 New Mexico: 56% Approval Rating
While New Mexico’s statistics for overall disabled population are similar to that of the rest of the U.S., it differs in specifics. According to the 2013 national census, New Mexico has both the highest percentage of people over 65 receiving disability as well as the highest percentage of children receiving disability.
In New Mexico, 1.7% of children under the age of 5 are registered as disabled, with the majority of those receiving full Social Security disability insurance benefits.
#2 Utah: 63% Approval Rating
According to the 2013 American Community Survey, only 8.9% of people all ages in Utah suffered from a disability, almost 4% less than the country as a whole. However, Utah has the second-highest disability approval rating at 63%, as well as one of the most comprehensive disability services in the country.
From residential support and chore services to host homes and general companionship programs, the state government makes it a priority to care for those of all ages with disabling conditions.
#1 Hawaii: 67% Approval Rating
Hawaii is the easiest state to get disability by a pretty wide margin. After having a 79% disability hearing approval rate in 2022, Hawaii has been ranked as the number one place to be approved for disability benefits in the country. Although Hawaii has one of the lowest percentages on disabled citizens in the country, over 2/3 of people who apply for Social Security are approved.
Hawaii is also the fourth smallest state in the country, making the Hawaii Disability Rights Center, the Developmental Disabilities Division, and its many other disability resources readily available to whatever residents need them.
Disability Benefits Approval Rates by State in 2023
The following table breaks down SSI and SSDI approval rates by state. You will see the term “allowance rate” in the chart below. The term “allowance” is a term used by the SSA to describe the rates for both initial disability benefits applications as well as reconsiderations. An allowance denotes the individual was medically approved for disability, however they still might be denied if they fail to meet the SSA’s technical requirements for disability (e.g. having enough work credits to be eligible for SSDI).
|State||Initial Application Allowance Rate||Reconsideration Allowance Rate||Disability Hearing Approval Rate*|
|Alaska||65%||17%||No hearings in 2022|
|District of Columbia||30%||13%||48%|
|Idaho||44%||18%||No hearings in 2022|
|South Dakota||41%||16%||No hearings in 2022|
|Vermont||46%||17%||No hearings in 2022|
|Wyoming||44%||11%||No hearings in 2022|
*Note: The approval rates for disability hearings are representative of full approvals.
What Is The Hardest State To Get Disability?
Oklahoma is the hardest state to get Social Security disability benefits in.
Oklahoma has had an approval rate percentage in the low 30s for the past 3 years. Most recently, Oklahoma's disability benefits application approval rate was 33%—12 percentage points lower than the national average.
While applying for disability benefits in Oklahoma might be not be advantageous for getting your claim approved, it does not mean that it's impossible to get approved in this state. Despite Oklahoma's low approval rate, there a many people living in Oklahoma that do get approved for disability. This is because getting approved for disability relies on each applicant's individual condition(s), circumstances, and situation.
Arizona had the second-worst SSD application approval rate, with only 37% of applications getting approved in 2022.
2 Minutes To See If You Qualify
If you feel that you may qualify for disability benefits, regardless of what state you live in, it is always worth it to apply. And, when applying for benefits, it is also wise to consult with a disability advocate or attorney.
A disability attorney is an irreplaceable resource when filing out applications, keeping paperwork organized, and aiding you in the appeals process if necessary. You’ll need to consult the SSA’s Blue Book listing to determine what records and medical documentation are necessary for your application for SSD benefits. Thus, it is not uncommon for people to say that working with a disability attorney and/or advocate is one of (1) the best ways to get and/or (2) signs your disability claim will be approved.
So, to give yourself the best chance at receiving the assistance you deserve, speak with a disability attorney today. Use our Social Security benefits calculator to see how much you could be able to earn in disability benefits.
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