Applying for Social Security disability benefits in Maine is a multi-step process. Continue reading below to learn about Maine disability requirements and how to apply for Social Security Disability in Maine.
It is recommended that you apply as soon as you become disabled, as the process is long and slow.
Step 1: Submit Initial Application
There are 3 different ways to submit your initial application for disability benefits:
In person at a local Social Security office
You may apply in person by visiting any of the eight Social Security offices in Maine. Click here to find the nearest Social Security office.
Over the phone
To apply over the phone, you can call your local social security office. If you are deaf or hard of hearing, you can call TTY 1-800-325-0778.
You can also submit your disability application online.
What is Asked on the Disability Application?
Filling out the application is not difficult, but it is lengthy, may take a couple of hours or more to complete, and can certainly be frustrating. Submitting your claim for disability benefits requires detailed information not only about you, but your family, along with detailed information about your medical condition, and detailed information about your work and work experience. You will also have to provide answers to questions about all your resources. This includes such things as bank accounts, life insurance policies, property, stocks or bonds, retirement funds, and cash, along with your income or other short-term disability benefits, veteran’s benefits and any other source of income.
Step 2: Claims Representative Interview
Once you have filed a disability claim at a local Social Security office you may have a disability interview with a claims representative, a CR. This can be done in person or over the phone. The CR handles the initial intake portion of the claim.
Important note: By submitting your claim online, you may not have one-on-one contact with a CR, which is the only opportunity you will have to speak directly with anyone regarding the application, submission and appeal process.
Step 3: Processing & Approval
After the interview, your application and evidence is forwarded to Maine Disability Determination Services (DDS) in Winthrop, Maine. They are the state agency that processes Social Security disability claims. In Winthrop, your case is assigned to a Disability Examiner, a DE, who will review the evidence in order to render a determination. This is the part of the application process where Maine differs from other states. The DE alone acts as a Single Decision Maker (SDM). A process designed to decrease the wait time for disability benefits. In other states the case is reviewed by a DE and a qualified medical consultant.
How Long Does it Take to be Approved?
Seeking Social Security disability benefits is a lengthy process to begin with. In Maine, once your initial claim is submitted, statistically, it takes longer. If your disability application is denied, which on average over 70% are, you can do a request for reconsideration appeal. Reconsiderations have an even lower rate of approval than initial claims for disability. Therefore, the majority of claimants will find their case before an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) at the Office of Hearings Operations (OHO), which is a Federal Administrative Law Court. The good news is that those who do a request for a disability hearing before an ALJ have a better chance of winning their claim.
All told, from the time you submit your application until a decision is rendered by the ALJ can take up to two years.
In this time contact between you and DDS is limited. DDS may contact you for clarification or more information in support of your claim, but does not provide any status updates.
Do you have more questions about disability benefits? Further information can be found here: “Do I qualify?” and “What if I’ve been denied?”