Pennsylvania Disability Benefits: Social Security Filing and Insurance Options

Find out about how to apply for Social Security disability benefits in Pennsylvania and what you can do if you're denied.

By , Attorney Seattle University School of Law
Updated 7/18/2024

Pennsylvanians who are unable to work full-time for at least one year may qualify for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI), two programs that provide a monthly cash benefit for disabled adults and children. These benefits are paid out of funds from the federal Social Security Administration, but the commonwealth of Pennsylvania helps decide who qualifies as disabled under Social Security's definition.

In addition to making initial disability determinations, Pennsylvania pays an extra state supplement for some residents who receive SSI. While PA doesn't provide any public short-term or temporary disability benefits, people who have long-term disability insurance from their employer may be eligible to recover a percentage of their average wages for the term of the insurance policy.

How Do I Apply for Disability Benefits in Pennsylvania?

There are several ways you can apply for Social Security disability benefits.

  • File online using Social Security's web portal. When you start your application, you'll be assigned a "re-entry" number that you can use to finish at a later time or track your status. You can complete the entire application online if you're only filing for SSDI.
  • Call 800-772-1213 from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m., Monday through Friday, to speak with a Social Security representative Deaf and hard-of-hearing applicants can use the TTY number at 800-325-0778. You can apply for both SSDI and SSI over the phone.
  • Visit your local Social Security field office to apply in person. There are around 60 field offices in Pennsylvania, open weekdays from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., that accept applications for SSDI and SSI. Some offices require an appointment, so call ahead before you go.

SSDI and SSI have different preliminary eligibility criteria. SSDI eligibility is based on your work history and how much you've contributed in payroll taxes, while SSI is needs-based and subject to certain income and asset requirements. A good rule of thumb is that if you have less than $2,000 in assets ($3,000 for a couple) and earn less than around $1,900 per month, you probably qualify for SSI. If you've earned around $6,500 each year for the past five years, you probably qualify for SSDI.

PA Bureau of Disability Determination

Once Social Security is satisfied that you meet the preliminary eligibility criteria for SSDI or SSI, your file is then sent to the Pennsylvania Bureau of Disability Determination (BDD), part of the Department of Labor and Industry, to determine whether you meet the medical disability requirements.

Claims examiners at the PA BDD review your doctors' clinical notes and your self-reported daily activities to see if you meet a listed impairment or have a residual functional capacity that rules out all jobs. Your claims examiner may contact you for additional information, such as the location of your treating providers, when reviewing your file. If you have questions about the status of your claim while it's pending at the BDD, you can call 888-772-1409 from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday through Friday.

In fiscal year 2023, examiners in Pennsylvania approved about 38% of initial disability applications. If you aren't approved at the initial stage, you have 60 days to appeal the denial by requesting reconsideration of your claim. At this level, a different claims examiner will review your file again and decide whether the original determination was incorrect. Only about 15% of PA disability claims are approved after reconsideration, but you have the chance to appeal further by asking for a hearing with an administrative law judge.

Disability Appeals Hearings in Pennsylvania

Social Security's Office of Hearing Operations (OHO) is responsible for scheduling and conducting disability hearings. Nine OHOs hold hearings for Pennsylvania disability claims. When you request a hearing, your file will be assigned to a judge in the office covering your geographic area. You can find contact information for each OHO below.

Elkins Park OHO
8380 Old York Road
Elkins Park, PA 19027
Telephone: 866-964-7369
Fax: 833-719-0410
eFile Fax: 877-548-8806

The Elkins Park office handles claims from Allentown, Bethlehem, Easton, Fairless Hills, Limerick, Northeast Philadelphia, and Reading

Harrisburg OHO
Keystone Plaza
100 Market Street, 4th Floor
Harrisburg, PA 17101
Telephone: 888-352-3691
Fax: 833-574-0714
eFile Fax: 877-548-8807

The Harrisburg office handles claims from Carlisle, Chambersburg, Harrisburg, Lancaster, Lebanon, Lewistown, and York.

Johnstown OHO
Suite 200
334 Washington Street
Johnstown, PA 15901-9954
Telephone: 866-331-7134
Fax: 833-563-0491
eFile Fax: 877-548-8809

The Johnstown office handles claims from Altoona, DuBois, Indiana, Johnstown, and State College.

Morgantown OHO
Suite FS1
5000 Greenbag Road
Morgantown, WV 26501-7236
Telephone: 877-405-9197
Fax: 833-796-0375
eFile Fax: 877-871-1884

The Morgantown, WV office handles claims from Uniontown, PA.

Philadelphia OHO
21st Floor
1601 Market Street
Philadelphia, PA 19102-9299
Telephone: 866-964-6288
Fax: 833-574-0716
eFile Fax: 877-548-8810

The Philadelphia office handles claims from Norristown, much of Philadelphia, and West Chester.

Philadelphia (East) OHO
Suite 502
833 Chestnut Street
Philadelphia, PA 19107
Telephone: 866-572-9721
Fax: 833-320-0687
eFile Fax: 877-548-8811

The Philadelphia East office handles claims from Chester, Philadelphia (Germantown and Nicetown), and Upper Darby.

Pittsburgh OHO
Suite 2308
1000 Liberty Avenue
Pittsburgh, PA 15222
Telephone: 866-331-2291
Fax: 833-574-0718
eFile Fax: 877-560-5935

The Pittsburgh office handles claims from Greensburg, McKeesport, Monroeville, Pittsburgh Rostraver, and Washington.

Seven Fields OHO
One Adams Place, Suite 200
300 Seven Fields Boulevard
Mars, PA 16046
Telephone: 855-278-4199
Fax: 833-796-0377
eFile Fax: 877-560-5935

The Seven Fields office handles claims from Ambridge, Butler, Cranberry, Erie, Kittanning, Meadville, New Castle, New Kensington, and Sharon.

Wilkes-Barre OHO
Stegmaier Building, Suite 201
7 North Wilkes-Barre Boulevard
Wilkes-Barre, PA 18702-5242
Telephone: 866-895-1594
Fax: 833-779-0464
eFile Fax: 877-560-5936

The Wilkes-Barre office handles claims from Bloomsburg, East Stroudsburg, Hazleton, Pottsville, Scranton, Selinsgrove, Towanda, Wilkes-Barre, and Williamsport.

As of July 2024, judges in offices deciding PA claims issued favorable decisions (awarding benefits) in 45% of cases. The average wait time from requesting a hearing until conducting a hearing in Pennsylvania is slightly less than 9 months.

Pennsylvania Disability Payments

The amount you'll receive if your application for disability is approved depends on the type of benefit you applied for, among other factors. In 2024, the maximum monthly SSDI payment is $3,822, although the average payment amount is much less, at $1,537. This is because SSDI payment amounts are determined by your past earnings history, which varies significantly by beneficiary.

SSI payments are determined by subtracting any countable income you have in a month by the federal benefit rate. The federal benefit rate is adjusted every year to account for increases in the cost of living. For 2024, this means the federal government can pay up to $943 per month in SSI benefits. Pennsylvania provides a modest state supplemental payment to some SSI recipients. The chart below provides information on the 2024 state supplement amounts according to living arrangements.

Living Arrangement

Individual Supplement

Couples Supplement

Independent (you own or rent the place where you live)

$22.10

$33.30

In the household of another individual

$25.53

$38.44

Domiciliary Care (supervised living arrangement)

$634.50

$1347.40

Personal Care boarding home

$639.30

$1357.40

Getting Legal Help for Your Pennsylvania Disability Claim

While you aren't required to have an attorney at any step of the disability determination process, if you've been denied at least once, you might consider requesting a consultation with an experienced disability attorney. Your representative can help you submit your paperwork on time, communicate with Social Security on your behalf, and prepare you for a disability hearing.

Many large law firms have branches in PA, as well as smaller "boutique" firms and solo practitioners that focus exclusively on Social Security disability claims. If you're thinking about filing a workers' compensation claim or applying for VA benefits in addition to your Social Security claim, you may want to find an attorney who has experience in those areas as well.

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