Approximately 1.7 million adults in Tennessee have a disability. This figure represents 29.5% of the state’s population and exceeds the 25.6% national average.
Yet, only 5.7% of disabled Tennessee residents receive Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits. The most common types of disabilities in Tennessee are mobility and cognitive disabilities.
It is crucial to know that despite having a disability, you retain all civil rights and should always attempt to file for SSDI.
But what is the process like in Tennessee? Here is everything you need to know about Social Security local to Tennessee.
How Do I Qualify for Social Security Benefits in Tennessee
Generally, there are two primary qualifications for Social Security Disability benefits in Tennessee.
First, you must have a severe condition that prevents or will prevent you from working for at least 12 months. “Severe” means that your condition must significantly limit your ability to do basic work-related activities, such as lifting, standing, walking, sitting or remembering. The condition can be a physical, intellectual, or developmental disability.
Second, you must have worked long enough and paid Social Security taxes. The Social Security Administration measures this in the form of work credits.
An SSDI applicant must have accrued at least 40 work credits, 20 earned within the last ten years leading up to their disability. However, a younger applicant may qualify for Tennessee Social Services with fewer work credits.
For most people, the first requirement is the hardest to prove. Your best bet is to hire an experienced Social Security Disability lawyer who can help put together a strong case.
How Do I Apply for Social Security Benefits in Tennessee?
You file for disability in three different ways, depending on the type of benefits you qualify for.
Online applications- SSDI claimants can apply online at www.ssa.gov. All you need to do is sign up or log in to your account, fill out the required forms and provide evidence of your disability.
In-person at local field offices- You can visit your local Tennessee Social Security office for help with your application. Listed below is the contact information for all Social Security field offices in Tennessee. Remember, you may need to have an appointment before visiting.
Applying by telephone- You can also file for disability benefits by phone at (800) 772-1213. If you are deaf or hearing impaired, call (800) 325-0778.
Gathering your medical records and supporting documentation ahead of time is crucial. The SSA will need proof of your identity, so bring your passport or government-issued ID card.
You will also have to provide information about your work history, so have your W-2 forms or tax returns from the last few years, including your Tennessee Social Security number.
Lastly, you must provide medical evidence supporting your disability. Doctor’s reports, hospital records, and treatments are necessary. Remember, the more evidence you have, the better your chances of winning benefits.
What Happens After I Apply for Social Security Benefits in Tennessee?
When the SSA receives your application and supporting documentation, they will forward it to the Division of Disability Determination Services (DDS) office. Tennessee’s DDS conducts all disability determinations and works under the Tennessee Department of Human Services (DHS).
To decide, a claims examiner at the DDS will gather information regarding your medical condition and work history. They will do this by reviewing your medical records and possibly scheduling you for a consultative examination (CE) with one of the SSA-approved doctors.
The claims examiner will also assess how much work you can do despite your limitations. They may seek the help of vocational experts who understand job requirements and limitations caused by various disabling conditions.
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Once the claims examiner has all the information needed, they will decide on your claim. If approved for benefits, you will receive a mail notice informing you of your approval.
You will still receive a notice explaining the denial if your application is denied. You have the right to appeal this decision if you feel it is erroneous.
Appealing a Denial for Social Security Benefits in Tennessee
Unfortunately, the Tennessee Social Security Administration approves 35% of applications at the initial stage, slightly below the 36% national average. Most cases must go through the appeals process before being approved.
Like most states, Tennessee follows the four-step appeals process: reconsideration, hearing, appeals council, and federal court.
If your initial SSDI claim is denied, you have 60 days from the date of the denial to ask the DDS to reconsider its decision. The DDS will authorize a new claims examiner to review your case’s initial decision.
Individuals whose reconsiderations are denied have 60 days to request a hearing before an administrative law judge (ALJ).
Your hearing will be held at your nearest hearing office, where you have the opportunity to present your case and testify about your condition.
You have the right to bring witnesses to testify and should have an attorney to represent you.
You have 60 days to appeal to the Social Security Appeals Council if the ALJ denies your case. The Council can either reverse the ALJ’s decision, return it to the ALJ asking them to reconsider specific evidence, or refuse to review your case altogether.
The Appeals Council may refuse to review your claim or deny it. If this happens, your last hope is to appeal to the federal district court in Tennessee. The state has several district courts for the Eastern District, the Western District, and the Middle District.
Tennessee SSDI Hearing Wait Times & Average Approval Rate
Tennessee is part of SSA’s Region 4, with its headquarters in Atlanta. This region has six hearing offices, hence an average wait time of nine months.
The average approval rate at the hearing level is equally impressive. About 57% of appeals are approved at the hearing level, compared to the national average of 51%.
It means that if you have a strong case and patiently wait for a hearing, you have a better chance of winning your case in Tennessee than in most other states.
In fact, applicants with a legal representative have a three times better chance of being approved for benefits than those who go to the hearing alone.
How Do I Contact the Tennessee Social Security Office Near Me?
Tennessee has 28 Social Security Field offices serving residents with SSDI needs. Depending on where you stay, contact the offices listed below to get help filing for disability, checking your application status, or other queries you may have.
You may call these offices using the provided phone numbers or visit in person for assistance.
SSA Field Office
|Memphis South SSA Office||3461 South Third St
Memphis, TN 38109
|Gallatin SSA Office||637 Commons Drive
Gallatin, TN 37066
|Nashville SSA Office||120 Athens Way
Nashville, TN 37228
|Memphis SSA Office||1330 Monroe Avenue
Memphis, TN 38104
|Knoxville SSA Office||9031 Cross Park Dr
Knoxville, TN 37923
|Chattanooga SSA Office||1290 Premier Dr Suite 140
Chattanooga, TN 37421
|Columbia SSA Office||1885 Shady Brook St
Columbia, TN 38401
|Dyersburg SSA Office||1070 Vendall Rd
Dyersburg, TN 38024
|Jackson SSA Office||415 Cheyenne Dr
Jackson, TN 38305
|Johnson City SSA Office||818 Sunset Drive Suite 203
Johnson City, TN 37604
|Cookeville SSA Office||1145 Perimeter Park Dr
Cookeville, TN 38501
|Clarksville SSA Office||119 Center Pointe Dr
Clarksville, TN 37040
|Greeneville SSA Office||1618 Old Tusculum Road
Greeneville, TN 37745
|Morristown SSA Office||3112 Millers Point Dr
Morristown, TN 37813
|Tullahoma SSA Office||717 Kings Lane
Tullahoma, TN 37388
|Murfreesboro SSA Office||2836 Saint Patrick Ct
Murfreesboro, TN 37128
|Kingsport SSA Office||2401 South Wilcox Dr
Kingsport, TN 37660
|Jacksboro SSA Office||140 Sharp Perkins Rd
Jacksboro, TN 37757
|Cleveland SSA Office||529 Inman St W
Cleveland, TN 37311
|Paris SSA Office||186 Commerce St
Paris, TN 38242
|Oak Ridge SSA Office||565 Oak Ridge Tpke
Oak Ridge, TN 37830
|Union City SSA Office||1800 Old Troy Rd
Union City, TN 38261
|Lawrenceburg SSA Office||109 E Taylor Street
Lawrenceburg, TN 38464
|McMinnville SSA Office||900 Sparta St
McMinnville, TN 37110
|Madison SSA Office||140 Cude Lane
Madison, TN 37115
|Memphis North SSA Office||3602 Austin Peay Hwy
Memphis, TN 38128
|Athens SSA Office||921 Congress Pkwy N
Athens, TN 37303
|Selmer SSA Office||661 Mulberry Ave
Selmer, TN 38375
Get Legal Help Applying for Social Security Benefits in Tennessee
If you cannot work because of a disabling condition, you are entitled to SSDI benefits. The process of filing for these benefits can be long and complicated, and most people are denied on their first attempt.
A qualified Tennessee Social Security Disability attorney can help you navigate the process and increase the chances of your case.
At Legal Giant, we have a team of experienced local SSD attorneys willing to do everything to see you get the benefits you need and deserve.
Contact us today for a free consultation and review of your case.