Even though Social Security Disability (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) are federal programs, each state differs in how many claims it approves, the amount of SSI a person with disabilities can receive, and how long a claim takes to be decided.
In Tennessee, it is a claims examiner at Disability Determination Services (DDS), a state agency, who decides whether you're disabled. Once DDS receives your application from Social Security, it takes about three months for you to get an initial decision. DDS only approves about one-third of the applications it sees. If your application is denied, you can request the DDS reconsider the application. If DDS denies your application again, you can request a hearing in front of a judge at a Social Security hearing office. In Tennessee, it takes about 14 months to get a hearing date. Social Security judges award benefits in over half of the cases they hear in Tennessee.
The federal government funds all of the SSI payment (up to $771 per month in 2019) in Tennessee. Unlike most other states, the State of Tennessee does not add a supplementary state payment onto the federal SSI payment.
However, SSI recipients usually also qualify for other government benefits, such as housing assistance, food stamps, and Medicaid (TennCare), among others.
You can apply for disability in three different ways in Tennessee, depending on the type of benefit you are eligible for.
Online applications. SSDI (Social Security disability) applicants can apply online at www.ssa.gov/pgm/disability.htm.
Tennessee field offices. Tennessee has 30 different field offices, where representatives can help you with your application. To find your local field office, see Social Security's website. You can also call 800-772-1213 (7 a.m. to 7 p.m.) to set up an appointment; some field offices in Tennessee actually require appointments.
Applying by telephone. You can also apply for disability benefits by telephone at the toll-free number above.
Contact information for all Tennessee’s Social Security disability-related offices are listed below.
The Tennessee Department of Human Services (DHS) administers the state's Disability Determination Services program. Here is the contact information for Tennessee’s DDS:
P.O. Box 775
400 Deaderick Street
Nashville, TN 37202
Phone: 615-743-7300 or 800-342-1117
For more information, visit the Department of Human Service’s (DHS) website.
Disability Law & Advocacy Center (DLAC) of Tennessee provides a range of disability-related services you may find helpful. Here is their mailing address:
P.O. Box 121257
Nashville, TN 37212
800-342-1660 (Toll Free)
DLAC has three offices in Tennesssee. Call their toll-free number to find the office closest to you.
Visit our Tennessee disability lawyers’ page if you need help filing an appeal. Your chances of winning an appeal hearing increase if you're represented by an attorney.