Hawaii Disability Benefits: Social Security Disability Insurance, SSI, and TDI

Find out about Hawaii's state supplemental payments, plus how to appeal a denial of Social Security disability or SSI and whether you qualify for Medicaid.

By , Attorney · UC Law San Francisco
Updated by Diana Chaikin, Attorney · Seattle University School of Law

If you live in Hawaii have a severe physical or mental impairment that keeps you from working full-time for at least one year, you may be eligible for disability benefits from the Social Security Administration. But even if your condition improves enough to return to work within a year, you may qualify for temporary disability insurance through the state of Hawaii.

Additionally, if you meet certain financial eligibility requirements, you may receive Medicaid benefits. Here's a quick overview of the assistance programs available for disabled people in Hawaii and how to navigate them.

How to Apply for Social Security Disability in Hawaii

Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) are the two types of federal disability benefits available for people who aren't able to work long-term. SSDI is based on your work history and how much you've paid in FICA taxes—deductions from your paycheck that fund Social Security. SSI is needs-based and subject to certain income and asset limits.

You can apply for both programs by calling 800-772-1213, Monday through Friday, between 8 a.m. and 7 p.m., and speaking with a Social Security representative. If you're applying for SSDI, you can file online using Social Security's secure web portal. (You can file for both SSDI and SSI this way, but a representative will contact you to complete the SSI part of the application either in person or over the phone.)

You can also contact your local Social Security field office. Hawaii has five field offices in the following locations:

Hilo
111 E. Puainako St.
Suite 710
Hilo, HI 96720
Telephone: 855-572-4860
Honolulu
300 Ala Moana Blvd.
Room 1-114
Honolulu, HI 96850
Telephone: 855-572-4879
Kapolei
970 Manawai St.
Kapolei, HI 96707
Telephone: 855-572-4866
Lihue
4434 Rice St.
Suite 105
Lihue, HI 96766
Telephone: 855-572-4842
Wailuku
2200 Main St.
Suite 125
Wailuku, HI 96793
Telephone: 855-572-4863

The offices are open from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., Monday through Friday.

Hawaii's Disability Determination Branch (DDB)

While SSDI and SSI are both federal programs administered by the Social Security Administration, a Hawaii state agency—the Disability Determination Branch—handles medical determinations on disability claims. This means that once you've submitted your application and your local field office has determined that you meet the financial eligibility requirements for a disability program, your file is sent to the DDB, where a claims examiner reviews your medical record for evidence of disabling limitations.

The DDB is part of the Hawaii Department of Vocational Rehabilitation. The main office for the branch is located in Honolulu. Here is the contact information:

Disability Determination Branch
P.O. Box 2458
Honolulu, HI 96804
Telephone: 808-979-7000

After you file your initial disability application, you should direct questions about the status of your case to your claims examiner at the DDB.

Appealing a Disability Denial in Hawaii

For fiscal year 2023, claims examiners in Hawaii approved about 40% of initial disability applications. If your claim is approved at the initial level, congratulations! Your file will be sent to a Central Processing Unit where your benefits will be calculated and a check for any back pay you're owed will be mailed to you—or directly deposited into your bank account, if you choose that option.

If you're one of the 60% of disability applicants in Hawaii who are denied at first, you can appeal within 60 days of receiving your denial letter. This is known as "reconsideration review," and it means that you're asking another claims examiner at the DDB to look at your file and see if the initial decision was incorrect.

Only about 14% of reconsideration requests are approved in Hawaii (close to the national average). If you receive another denial, the next step is to request a hearing with an administrative law judge. You have 60 days after your reconsideration denial to submit a request for review, and it takes on average slightly over one year before your hearing will be scheduled.

Social Security's Office of Hearings Operations handles all disability hearings. There is one hearing office in Hawaii, with the following contact information:

Prince Kuhio Federal Building, Room 3-303
300 Ala Moana Boulevard
Honolulu, HI 96850
Telephone: 855-601-2479 (Ext. 31381)
Fax: 833-511-0337
eFile Fax: 877-394-9246

For fiscal year 2024, judges in the Honolulu office issued favorable decisions 71% of the time.

If you have an in-person hearing, you'll need to show up to the above address at the date and time shown on your Notice of Hearing. Many hearings aren't held in-person, however, so your judge may schedule a hearing over the phone or by videoconference. You can also request to hold your hearing remotely if you'd prefer.

Hawaii Disability Benefits Payments

If you're approved for SSDI benefits, your monthly payment will depend on the amount you paid into the Social Security system. In 2024, the maximum amount you can receive in SSDI is $3,8222 per month, although the average monthly SSDI check is around half that, at $1,537.

If you're approved for SSI benefits, you'll receive the annually-adjusted federal benefit rate of $943 per month ($1,415 for couples), minus any countable income you have. "In-kind" income like free room and board can also reduce the amount of your SSI benefit.

The State of Hawaii offers additional payments ("supplements") for people receiving SSI who are living in domiciliary care or foster care setups. The federal government administers this payment on behalf of Hawaii, so you don't have to apply separately for it—you should receive it automatically. See the table below for the total amount (including supplemental benefit) that matches your living situation.

Living Situation

Individual SSI Amount

Couple SSI Amount

Foster care home

$1,594.90

$3,055.80

Domiciliary care home (small residential care home)

$1,594.90

$3,055.80

Domiciliary care facility (larger residential care home)

$1,702.90

$3,271.80

Keep in mind that if you're living in somebody else's household or a Medicaid facility, your SSI benefit amount may be reduced rather than supplemented.

Medicaid Eligibility in Hawaii

Unlike most other states, Hawaii makes its own eligibility decisions for Medicaid. Because of the high cost of living in Hawaii, the state allows people to receive Medicaid benefits even if they have incomes that are higher than the federal SSI income limit (and might make them otherwise ineligible).

Hawaii uses the federal poverty guidelines for the State of Hawaii to determine eligibility for the Medicaid program. In 2024, this means having an annual income of $17,310 for one person, with an additional $6,190 added to that limit for each person in your household. Resource and asset limits—generally, the total amount of cash you have on hand—are still the same as those for the federal SSI program, however ($2,000 per individual and $3,000 for a couple).

In general, anyone who qualifies for SSI in Hawaii should also qualify for Medicaid. You can apply for Medicaid online at https://medical.mybenefits.hawaii.gov/. You can also contact Med-QUEST, a division of the State of Hawaii Department of Human Services, at 800-316-8005 (TTY users can call 855-889-4325 or 711).

If you have additional questions, you can contact the Med-QUEST branch on your island. Offices are located in Honolulu, Kapolei, Waipahu, Hilo, Kailua-Kona, Wailuku, Lanai City, Kaunakakai, and Lihue. Location and phone numbers for these offices can be found on the Med-QUEST "Contact Us" webpage.

Hawaii's Temporary Disability Insurance Program

The State of Hawaii provides temporary disability benefits for qualified employees through its Temporary Disability Insurance (TDI) program, for up to six months. "Qualified employee" means that you've worked at least 14 weeks for your employer, for at least 20 hours per week, at a rate of at least $400 per week. These short-term TDI benefits are typically 58% of your wages up to a maximum limit depending on your employer's TDI plan.

Do I Need a Disability Lawyer to Get Social Security Disability Benefits?

You don't need an attorney at any stage of the disability determination process, but it can be a good idea to have one—especially if you've been denied benefits. Your lawyer can go over the strengths and weaknesses of your claim with you, request the right medical information from your doctor, and, if necessary, represent you at your Social Security disability hearing.

If you're not sure yet whether you want to hire a lawyer, check out our article on when to talk to a Social Security disability lawyer. Most disability attorneys offer free consultations, and they work on contingency—meaning they don't get paid unless you win your case—so it doesn't hurt to ask.

Talk to a Disability Lawyer

Need a lawyer? Start here.

How it Works

  1. Briefly tell us about your case
  2. Provide your contact information
  3. Choose attorneys to contact you
Boost Your Chance of Being Approved

Get the Compensation You Deserve

Our experts have helped thousands like you get cash benefits.

How It Works

  1. Briefly tell us about your case
  2. Provide your contact information
  3. Choose attorneys to contact you