Which state has the best disability benefits for non-occupational (off-the-job) accidents and illnesses?

In general, the seven with a mandatory short-term disability plan come out on top because Social Security is a federal program that works uniformly across the country – with only minor regional variations that apply to a small group of recipients.

Temporary medical conditions are far more common than permanent ones. They can easily lead to lost jobs and termination of employer-sponsored health insurance – unless a law prevents this from happening during at least the first twelve weeks.

You must have the coverage – otherwise, benefits will be impossible to get and will not pay anything at all.

States with Short-Term Disability

State disability insurance will sometimes pay claims when temporary medical conditions caused by off-the-job illnesses or accidents prevent a person from earning wages – if required by law where you work. However, only seven have such a requirement.

On a related front, more states have laws to supplement the federal FMLA, which provides critical job security and health insurance continuation for employees dealing with temporary work absences.

Mandatory Disability

The list of states that have a mandatory short-term disability program for workers in both private industry and public service jobs has only eight entries. It is easiest to get benefits for temporary income losses when your local government forces you to buy the coverage in advance.

At the time of publication, only seven states and one territory have this requirement. The highest paying plan depends on your earnings while working as the percentage of pre-disability income and hard-dollar caps determine the monthly amount.

StatePercent LimitWeekly Maximum

California

60%

$1,300

Hawaii

58%

$650

Massachusetts

Varies

$850

New Jersey

85%

$881

New York

50%

$150

Rhode Island

60%

$887

Puerto Rico

55%

$746

Washington

Varies

$1,000

Unfortunately, the list of states that do not have a mandatory short-term disability plan for workers in private industry has far more entries. People working in these regions need to purchase coverage through a private company to protect their wages from temporary work absences caused by non-occupational illnesses and injuries.

State FMLA

Many more states augment the related federal Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) that provides unpaid legal job protections and health insurance continuation for employees on short-term disability and their caretakers. Losing your job and medical coverage while unable to work could prove devastating.

These local statutes typically plug at least one of four significant holes in FMLA for the people who work within their jurisdiction and sometimes apply only to parental leave scenarios.

  1. Extend the legal protections beyond twelve weeks
  2. Cover more employers (small businesses with less than 50 employees)
  3. Make more employees eligible by lowering hours worked criteria
  4. Provide wage replacement payments for caregivers
State>12 WeeksMore EmployersMore EmployeesWage Support

California

X

X

X

X

Colorado

 

 

X

 

Connecticut

X

 

X

 

Maryland

 

X

 

 

Massachusetts

X

X

X

X

Minnesota

 

X

X

 

New Jersey

X

X

X

X

New York

 

X

X

X

Oregon

X

X

X

 

Rhode Island

X

 

 

X

Tennessee

X

 

 

 

Washington

X

 

 

X

Wisconsin

 

X

X

 

Social Security Disability Benefits by State

The listing of disability benefits by the state for permanent medical conditions is more uniform because the federal Social Security Administration (SSA) sets the rules nationwide.

The highest paying states are the ones that supplement SSI. However, the extra benefits help a relatively small population because the majority of disabled workers receive SSDI. Approval rates and waiting times are reasonably consistent throughout the country, even though the percentage of recipients compared to the overall population varies quite a bit.

Highest Paying

Read the fine print carefully before moving to the highest paying state for disability. The federal Social Security Administration makes the rules about how much to grant in base payments to qualified recipients, and each local government determines whether to boost the amount for one program but not another.[1]

  1. Social Security Disability Income (SSDI) pays benefits to you and some family members if you worked long enough and paid FICA taxes
    • The median monthly SSDI amounts are very similar across the country, with only minor variations.
    • Sixty-two percent of recipients receive SSDI only
  2. Supplemental Security Income (SSI) covers disabled adults and children who have limited earnings and resources
    • The median monthly SSI base amount is very similar throughout the nation
    • Forty-six states provide an extra amount ranging from $10 to $400, which depends on marital status, living arrangements, and other factors
    • Twenty-eight percent of recipients receive SSI only
  3. Concurrent recipients receive both SSDI and SSI payments
    • The benefits offset partially and do not equate to double the amount
    • Only about 10% of applicants receive SSI and SSID concurrently

The summary chart found below breaks out the median SSDI payments and designates which one does or does not have an SSI supplement and whether SSA or the state administers these extra payments.

Easiest to Qualify

Moving your family to a new location is a poor strategy to win approval. It is not measurably easier to get Social Security disability in one region compared to another because the rules are uniform across the nation.

Each state decides claims by following the parameters established at the federal level by the Social Security Administration. Therefore, your odds of success should track the national averages closely.

  • Initial Awards: 23%
  • Reconsideration Awards: 2%
  • Appeals Council Awards: 15%
  • Medical Denials: 25%
  • Technical Denials: 35%

However, each state does manage its systems and departments independently, which could result in minor deviations from these national figures. The summary chart found at the bottom breaks out the percent of the population receiving benefits.

Keep in mind that regional demographics could explain the variations far more than one state grading harder or easier than another. For example, West Virginia has the highest percentage of awarded cases at 8.8% of the population, while Hawaii has the lowest at 2.8%. However, you should not conclude that your approval chances are three times better in West Virginia.

Summary Chart

This summary chart provides state-level data about Social Security disability amounts and the percentage of the population receiving benefits. Use the information wisely, as the numbers do not support the notion that one region is stricter or more lenient, generous, or more stingy.

The only exception relates to whether a state provides extra SSI payments, and whether the SSA administers the program or the local office.[2]

StateSSDISSI Extra% Recipients

AL

$1,079

 

8.3

AK

$1,064

 

2.8

AZ

$1,048

No

4.0

AR

$1,130

 

8.3

CA

$1,099

SSA

3.0

CO

$1,101

 

3.1

CT

$1,126

 

4.0

DE

$1,1,63

SSA

5.0

DC

$953

SSA

3.2

FL

$1,097

 

4.8

GA

$1,099

 

4.7

HI

$1,120

SSA

2.8

ID

$1,056

 

4.8

IL

$1,093

 

4.0

IN

$1,094

 

5.6

IA

$1,039

SSA

4.6

KS

$1,067

 

4.6

KY

$1,055

 

8.0

LA

$1,019

 

6.1

ME

$1,016

 

7.7

MD

$1,127

 

3.7

MA

$1,080

 

5.1

MI

$1,103

SSA

6.2

MN

$1,073

 

4.0

MS

$1,042

No

7.8

MO

$1,053

 

6.3

MT

$1,013

SSA

4.7

NE

$1,029

 

4.0

NV

$1,145

SSA

3.8

NH

$1,119

 

6.1

NJ

$1,183

SSA

3.9

NM

$1,025

 

5.5

NY

$1,083

 

4.4

NC

$1,105

 

5.5

ND

$1,015

No

3.3

OH

$1,034

 

5.5

OK

$1,044

 

5.7

OR

$1,079

 

4.6

PA

$1,085

SSA

5.6

RI

$1,057

SSA

6.0

SC

$1,121

 

6.2

SD

$1,018

 

4.1

TN

$1,065

 

6.5

TX

$1,064

 

3.5

UT

$1,072

 

2.9

VT

$1,031

SSA

6.2

VA

$1,099

 

4.3

WA

$1,091

 

4.2

WV

$1,075

No

8.8

WI

$1,080

 

5.0

WY

$1,059

 

4.0

Footnoted Sources:

[1] Statistical Report on SSDI

[2] Social Security Agency – Extra SSI Benefits