How to File for Disability Benefits in New Jersey
If you are one of the hundreds of thousands of New Jersey residents who have a disability, and your medical condition prevents you from working and earning income, you may be eligible to receive monthly disability benefits through the Social Security Administration (SSA). Many applicants apply through the Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) program, but there are other programs you may also qualify for.
However, being approved is often a challenge. In New Jersey, the average approval rate for initial Social Security benefits applications is only about 43%, which means that more than half of all disability claims are initially rejected. For claimants who go on to challenge their rejection, the approval rate drops even lower, down to about 14% during the second stage of appeals. The New Jersey disability lawyers at Young, Marr & Associates work to help our clients file their disability applications properly the first time and avoid denials. To set up a totally free, confidential case evaluation, call Young, Marr & Associates at (609) 557-3081.
Before You File: Eligibility Requirements for Disability Claims
Before you start the application process, it is important to understand the SSA’s basic eligibility criteria. To qualify for disability benefits, you must meet the following criteria:
- You must have a disability, according to the SSA’s definition.
- Your condition must be severe enough that it prevents you from working at your present job or an alternate job.
- Your disability must be expected to last a year, or to end in death.
- You must earn under $1,180 per month or $1,970 for blind applicants (2018 limits).
In addition to these criteria, you must also be 18 or older and not already receiving disability benefits on your record.
The SSA’s definition of “disability” has a few important considerations. First, the disability must be severe enough that you cannot work to earn a living wage. The condition must typically be on the SSA’s list of disabilities – but you can still get approval for unlisted conditions if they are as severe as a listed condition.
You can apply for disability with an injury or condition, no matter how you received it. This means disability benefits can be helpful after a work injury or to step in and cover diseases you developed outside of work, like cancer or heart failure.
How to File a Disability Benefits Claim in New Jersey
To begin the process of applying for disability in New Jersey, you have three options:
- Apply online by visiting the SSA’s secure website;
- Apply over the phone by dialing (800) 772-1213, Monday-Friday, 7 A.M.-7 P.M. (deaf or hard of hearing applicants may call (800) 325-0778); or
- Apply in person by making an appointment to visit your nearest Social Security office. You can find the office closest to you by using the locator service on the SSA’s website.
When you apply, you should be prepared with:
- Your Social Security Number (SSN),
- Your birth certificate, and
- All relevant medical records.
The application consists primarily of biographical information and information about your condition, how you received it, and how it affects your life. You may be asked to have your doctor or caregiver complete paperwork to help the SSA evaluate your condition and its severity.
You will receive confirmation once the SSA receives your application materials. This confirmation is not an approval.
How Long Does It Take to Get Approval for Disability Benefits in NJ?
Because the SSA must evaluate millions of applications pouring in from around the country, it leans on smaller organizations at the state level to help speed up claims processing. In New Jersey, the SSA collaborates with the Division of Disability Determination Services (DDS). However, even with assistance from the DDS, there are still hundreds of thousands of claims which must be processed. This means evaluations can take some time.
The typical turnaround is approximately 3-5 months. Processing may be slower if you need to submit to a medical exam or if your application is randomly chosen for quality assurance.
Processing may be expedited for Compassionate Allowance (CAL) applicants, as this program is intended for very advanced and terminal illnesses. If you have questions about your claim, you can call the DDS at (866) 920-6997, or at (973) 648-2983 if you are hearing impaired.
Once your application has been evaluated, the SSA will send your notification of approval or rejection. A notice of award letter will detail when and how much you can expect to be paid, while a denial letter will explain why you were turned down. Most rejections are due to medical issues, such as a determination that your disability is not severe enough to prevent you from working, though some denials are due to technical issues, such as earning too much income.
When applying, it is important to consider consulting with an attorney. Applying for disability benefits with the help of an experienced attorney statistically increases your chance of approval. The process can be long, confusing, and difficult. Especially if you are too disabled to work, the difficulty of filling out and filing the applications may be too much to handle. Call our law offices today for a free consultation on your case.
What Should I Do if the SSA Denies My Disability Application?
If the SSA denies your claim, you may appeal by requesting “reconsideration.” You can either use the SSA’s website to file the appeal or you can download, complete, and mail paper copies of the following forms:
- Form SSA-561 – Request for Reconsideration
- Form SSA-827 – Authorization to Disclose Information to the Social Security Administration
- Form SSA-3441 – Disability Report – Appeal
In New Jersey, reconsideration has a success rate of approximately 14%. However, the following stage, known as an Administrative Law Judge Hearing (ALJ Hearing), has a far greater average approval rate of about 60%. To request an ALJ Hearing, you should complete and submit Forms SSA-827 and SSA-3441 noted above, as well as Form HA-501 (Request for Hearing by Administrative Law Judge).
If your case goes before an administrative law judge, it is important to have an attorney represent you. This process if a full-fledged court process where you have the right to present evidence of your disability and qualifications. An attorney can help build the case for your hearing and ensure that you put forth the strongest case to fight for your disability benefits.
Our New Jersey Disability Application Lawyers Offer Free Consultations
If you are applying for federal disability benefits in New Jersey, or if you want to appeal an SSA denial, call the New Jersey disability attorneys at Young, Marr & Associates. Our attorneys have decades of experience helping disabled applicants get the benefits they need to continue to support themselves and their families through trying times. If you have a disability that makes it impossible to work to support yourself, call our law offices today to schedule a free consultation to discuss your disability application. Our number is (609) 557-3081.