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Disability Laws in Missouri

February 17, 2021

For those individuals who struggle with a disability that prohibits them from being able to work and make a good income, the benefits offered by the state of Missouri and the federal government are essential. 

The Social Security Administration offers disabled people a number of valuable programs that support and assist them in various areas of their lives. 

This article will review how to qualify and apply for disability in Missouri, as well as what to do if your claim is denied and what services are available after your application is approved.

What conditions qualify for disability in Missouri?

There are certain medical conditions that a person may have that will qualify them to receive disability benefits through MO HealthNet in Missouri. According to the Social Security Administration’s list of impairments, otherwise known as “Disability Evaluation under Social Security”, people suffering from the following categories of disorders are most likely to receive disability:

 

●       Musculoskeletal conditions (degenerative disc disease, scoliosis, stenosis, soft tissue injuries, etc.)

●       Special Senses and Speech Disorders (hearing deficits, loss of vision, speech pathology, etc.)

●       Respiratory Impairments (asthmatic disease, emphysema, etc.)

●       Cardiovascular Disorders (arrhythmias, chronic heart disease, valvular defects, coronary artery disease, etc.)

●       Digestive System Disorders (hepatitis, chronic liver disease, IBS, hemorrhaging, etc.)

●       Genitourinary System Conditions (kidney disease and transplantation)

●       Hematological System Conditions (anemia, polycythemia, granulocytopenia, etc.)

●       Skin Disorders (ichthyosis, hidradenitis suppurativa, etc.)

●       Endocrine Disorders (hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism)

●       Multiple Body System Conditions (down syndrome, etc.)

●       Neurological Conditions (grand mal seizures, petit mal seizures, traumatic brain injury, cerebrovascular accident, Lou Gehrig’s Disease, etc.)

●       Mental Impairments (depression and anxiety, panic attacks, bipolar disorder, somatoform disorders, autism, etc.)

●       Malignant Neoplastic Conditions (cancers that affect the entire body, etc.)

●       Immune System Disorders (lupus, HIV, inflammatory arthritis, scleroderma, Sjorgen’s syndrome, etc.)

 

Although there are many conditions on the SSA’s list of impairments, if your condition is not explicitly listed you may still be able to claim disability insurance if you meet certain requirements. Read the next section to learn about the specific requirements you must meet in order to qualify for disability in Missouri.

How to Qualify for Disability in Missouri

In Missouri, the following requirements must be met in order for a person to qualify to receive disability benefits on the MO HealthNet insurance plan.:

 

●       The individual is unable to perform substantial gainful activities (SGAs) due to a physical or mental impairment.

●       This impairment is likely to lead to the individual’s death, OR

●       It has lasted continuously for 12 months and/or is expected to last for at least 12 months.


Substantial gainful activities are those jobs where the person is legally employed and making over $1,180/month. If a person is unable to make this amount of money and fulfills the requirements for disability, then they may be able to apply to receive disability benefits. The requirements are the same to apply for disability benefits from Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), Supplemental Security Income (SSI), and/or MO HealthNet.

How to Sign Up for Disability in Missouri

To sign up for disability in Missouri, you will need to carefully follow these steps:

 

  1. Apply online, in-person, or over the phone.
  1. To apply online, visit ssa.gov
  2. To apply over the phone, call 1-800-772-1213 (individuals who are deaf or who have trouble hearing may call the TTY line, which is 1-800325-0778)
  3. To apply in-person, go to your nearest Social Security field office.


  1. Submit all of the required documents to support your disability claim. If you are applying for MO HealthNet for Disability, visit this link to view some of the paperwork you will need to have completed.


  2. Wait while your application is reviewed to ensure its validity by the Social Security Administration. Additional documentation may be requested at this time.


  3. Wait the 3-5 months for your application to be reviewed by the Missouri Disability Determination Services offices. Again, additional documentation may be needed. After the application is processed, you will either be approved or denied.


  4. If you are denied, you will need to schedule and attend a hearing regarding the denial of your claim. If you are approved, you will gain access to disability benefits.

 

How long is the wait to get approved for disability?

There is no set timeline when it comes to the wait time to get approved for disability. You may be approved in more or less time depending on your particular situation, but on average, most people will be approved or denied within 90-120 days. The situations where you may be approved more quickly include having a condition or disability that is:

 

●       A Quick Disability Decision (QDD) case

●       On the compassionate allowance list

●       Terminal

●       Severe enough to adequately fit the criteria for disability benefits

 

When a person has a condition like one of those listed above, it is likely that they will be approved for disability during their first hearing.

 

The approval process (or denial process) for disability takes a certain amount of time. The amount of time that it takes depends on how long the claimant requires to collect the necessary paperwork to make the application. And then accessing medical records and other documentation can take months in certain cases, and more paperwork may be required after the first hearing if you need to provide additional proof of your condition, employment status, or financial situation. All of these factors play a role in how long it takes to be approved for disability in Missouri.

 

In Missouri, you may be able to speed up the approval process if you submit current, accurate medical records with your disability application. If you are unable to submit these records, the Medical Records Team (MRT) must reach out to doctors, hospitals, and other medical institutions on your behalf to access the most up-to-date records and this takes additional time. If the records you submit or the records found by the MRT are not sufficient, then a medical evaluation with a physician must be arranged to verify your disability claim.

How much is a monthly disability check?

The amount of money you may receive as your monthly disability check will vary depending on your age, employment history, current financial situation, and your medical condition(s). It is important to consider whether you will receive SSI or SSDI disability checks, since the amount may be different. Individuals who can receive SSDI benefits must meet the following requirements:

 

●       Have worked for a minimum number of hours in recent years and have paid Social Security taxes during that time

●       Meet the criteria for having a disability (listed above)

 

To qualify to receive SSI benefits, you must fulfill the following:

 

●       Meet the criteria for having a disability

●       Have low income and limited resources

 

To qualify for either SSI or SSDI benefits, you must be a citizen of the United States and maintain permanent residence in the US or the Northern Mariana Islands (except in the case of students who are temporarily abroad or children whose military parent(s) are assigned to overseas duty).

 

The average disability check is approximately $1300/month. Generally, recipients of a monthly disability check will receive somewhere between $800 and $1800, but they can receive up to $3000 under certain circumstances. The amount you receive is dependent not only on your disability and financial situation, but also on the benefits or income you may be receiving from other governmental organizations. The amount you receive is not, however, dependent on any disability benefits you may be receiving from private insurance companies at the time of your disability application.

What benefits are available for disabled Missouri Residents?

Disabled Missouri residents may be able to benefit from numerous government programs that are designed to specifically support disabled individuals and their families. Some of the programs available to disabled people include the following:

 

  1. Consumer-Directed Services (CDS) Program


The CDS program is a Missouri State Medicaid funded program that provides care and support to individuals suffering from a disability. It allows the disabled person to personally hire and train a personal care attendant (PCA) who will provide care for them within the comfort of the disabled individual’s own home. The CDS program is available to all disabled Medicaid recipients in Missouri who require assistance with ADL or IADL activities. The program does not incur any extra charge since the care services are covered by Missouri Medicaid.

 

You will be responsible for choosing and training your PCA, who may be a friend or a family member, or they may be a licensed healthcare practitioner whom you know and trust. This individual may provide assistance with a variety of daily living tasks, including:

 

●       Bathing, grooming, and personal hygiene

●       Mobility

●       Shopping

●       Medication management

●       House chores (cleaning, laundry, etc.)

●       Meal preparation

●       Toilet use

●       Essential transportation

 

Besides being able to receive full coverage for home health care, many CDS recipients appreciate the program because they are able to hire their loved ones to be their caretakers. Family members or friends who become caretakers on the CDS program are able to receive compensation for their time, which means that all parties benefit from the arrangement. FreedomCare Missouri can help you sign up for CDS and answer questions if you need assistance.

 

  1. Division of Vocational Rehabilitation


This organization is partnered with the Social Security Administration and offers disability determination services. The staff members at the Division are available to help disabled individuals determine their eligibility for disability benefits in Missouri, answer questions about signing up for benefits, and provide advice for if the applicant is denied after a disability claim. The division may be contacted at 1-877-222-8963.


  1. Department of Social Services


This is the primary organization responsible for providing financial aid benefits to disabled individuals and their families. The Family Support Division and local community action agencies are under the jurisdiction of this department. Other social service programs available to the disabled include the SNAP program, Medicaid, Medicare, and Missouri cash assistance programs. Contact 1-800-392-1261 for more information.


  1. Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services


This organization is responsible for overseeing Missouri programs that support or provide home care services for the disabled and the elderly. The Department may also help locate jobs for low-income, disabled Missouri residents over age 55, offer commodity foods to disabled individuals, and provide access to affordable housing. Contact 573-751-6400 to learn more about the benefits offered by this department.


  1. Assistive Technology


Assistive Technology is a disability benefit that is available specifically for the blind and visually impaired. The organization will help these individuals obtain tools such as computers, guidance counseling, and more. Services to help high school students transition into work or higher education are also available. Call 573-751-4249 for more information about Assistive Technology.


  1. Division of Developmental Disabilities


Otherwise known as the DD, the Division of Developmental Disabilities offers services for people with long- and short-term intellectual disabilities such as epilepsy, cerebral palsy, autism, head injuries, and other related issues. The DD works with Accessible Housing, Employment First, and Individual Services and Supports, among other organizations. For more information, call 573-751-4054.


  1. Department of Social Services’ Rehabilitation Services for the Blind (RSB)


The RSB provides rehabilitation and support services to blind and visually impaired individuals. It helps these people achieve success in employment, education, and life. Services offered by this organization include free counseling services, physical and mental restoration appointments, diagnosis, evaluation, educational services, and job support.

 

Getting Denied for Disability in Missouri

If you get denied for disability in Missouri, you may appeal if you so choose. In order to appeal to continue the application, you will have to submit your claim no more than 60 days after your application has been denied. The appeal process is outlined below:

 

  1. The appeal process begins with the reconsideration stage. At this stage, you submit a request for the Missouri Disability Determination Services (DDS) to review your application a second time.
  2. If your application passes the reconsideration stage, you may continue with your application.
  3. If your application is denied again after the reconsideration stage, you may request a hearing at an Office of Hearings Operations (OHO). The wait time for a hearing may be up to 15 months depending on where you live. In Missouri, there are 5 OHO locations:
  1. Columbia
  2. Creve Coeur
  3. Kansas City
  4. Springfield
  5. St. Louis

 

A large majority of disability applications are denied the first time. Although you are not required to make an appeal, it is highly recommended because applicants who are persistent with their disability claim are far more likely to receive disability coverage than those who do not appeal. If you are unsure about how to proceed after your disability claim application has been denied, consider hiring a Missouri disability attorney to assist you with the process and provide advice to help you secure your claim.