Residents of the District of Columbia (D.C.) who are unable to work due to a physical or mental condition for at least 12 months may be eligible for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI). Both programs are administered by the Social Security Administration (SSA), and the disability application process in D.C. is the same as it is in other states. The disability determination process, however, is different in D.C. than in the 50 states.
After you apply for SSI or Social Security disability benefits through your local Social Security office (D.C. has four), your application is sent to D.C.’s Department on Disability Services (DDS). Claims examiners at DDS decide whether you are medically disabled.
If you want to check the status of your claim, you can call DDS rather than Social Security (assuming it’s been at least a month since you filed). DDS is located at 1125 15th Street NW, Washington, DC 20005, and can be reached at 202-730-1700.
Social Security disability payments are based on the amount of FICA taxes you and your employers paid into the Social Security system while you were working. They are not based on how disabled you are or how much other income you have.
SSI payments vary based on the amount of other income you have and the state or jurisdiction you live in. D.C. pays extra money to those living in adult foster care homes or Medicaid facilities. Here’s a summary of how much SSI payments are depending on your living circumstances.
For those who live in adult foster care or Medicaid facilities, Social Security and the D.C. Department of Health Care Finance (DHCF) jointly administer your payments. The DHCF is located at 899 North Capitol Street, Suite 6037, Washington, D.C.
If you qualify for Social Security disability, after you have been receiving benefits for two years, you will be eligible for federal Medicare. However, if you have low income and assets, you can apply for Medicaid until you get enrolled in Medicare.
If you are found eligible for SSI, you will automatically be eligible for D.C.’s Medicaid program.
If you are denied disability benefits, you have 60 days to appeal the decision. First you have to request a "reconsideration" from DDS and only if you are denied again can you request a hearing with a Social Security judge. Hiring a disability lawyer can speed up the appeal process because 1) sometimes a lawyer can spot a mistake or missing piece of evidence that will get you approved at the reconsideration stage and 2) even if you are denied again, your attorney can ask for a pre-hearing decision by proposing a strong theory of why you are disabled. To ask a lawyer about your chances on appeal, request a free consultation with a disability lawyer in D.C.