Trenton, NJ Disability (SSDI) Lawyer
If you are unable to work due to age or a disability, you consequently become unable to earn income. If you cannot earn income, you have little to no financial recourse when it comes to paying your utility bills, your medical bills, your mortgage or rental payments, purchasing groceries, and other living expenses.
If you are unable to cover the basic costs of living, it can quickly become a very challenging and stressful situation. You may have concerns about how you are going to care for your loved ones, whether you will be able to keep a roof over your head or how you will be able to afford healthcare and medical treatments.
Fortunately, you may be eligible for assistance through the SSA, or Social Security Administration. To set up a free and private legal consultation with an experienced Trenton, New Jersey social security disability attorney, call Young, Marr, Mallis & Associates at (609) 755-3115 in New Jersey or (215) 701-6519 in Pennsylvania today.
Trenton, New Jersey Social Security Disability Lawyers
According to the Social Security Administration, approximately 70% of initial applications for disability benefits are denied. As the SSA’s own numbers clearly demonstrate, being approved to receive social security benefits or disability benefits is a daunting task. The SSA’s claims processing system is intentionally structured to make being approved for a benefits claim difficult. When you are coping with the pain of a disability and the emotional strain of worrying about your finances, obtaining the financial assistance you deserve can become all but impossible.
At Young, Marr, Mallis & Associates, our Trenton, New Jersey social security disability attorneys have over 25 years of experience helping the residents of Trenton and Mercer County get approved for disability benefits. Our highly experienced legal team has represented thousands of individuals over more than two decades practicing social security law, and our disability lawyers have won millions of dollars in benefits for our clients.
No matter what stage of the social security disability claims process you have reached, our Trenton, New Jersey Social Security Disability lawyers are here to assist you. Our expert attorneys can help you:
- Complete and file a claim for SSI benefits or SSDI benefits.
- Appeal an initial rejection for benefits if you have already been denied.
- Edit and evaluate your disability application.
- Collect and review important medical and employment documentation.
- Maximize your chances of being awarded disability benefits.
Types of Social Security Disability Benefits Available in Trenton, NJ
Social Security Disability benefits are not one, overarching form of financial assistance. In fact, if you are applying for social security disability benefits in Trenton, New Jersey, there are several distinct forms of benefits offered by the social security program which you may qualify for:
- SSDI (Social Security Disability Insurance)
- SSI (Supplemental Security Income)
Some people even qualify to receive both simultaneously, which is called concurrent benefits. But what is the difference between SSI and SSDI, and which form of benefits is more appropriate for you?
SSDI (Social Security Disability Insurance)
Social Security Disability Insurance is available to individuals who are physically or mentally disabled who have worked and paid into the Social Security Fund. One way to think of SSDI is as a typical insurance policy. A claimant pays their monthly premium through their FICA taxes and, if necessary, disability payments are available. Because this is not a need-based benefit, the SSA will not look at your assets or resources when approving or denying your benefits. However, because you are supposed to be impaired, your monthly income is part of the equation.
The first requirement is having a disability. The SSA publishes an official list of impairments – commonly referred to as the “Blue Book.” This comprehensive list includes all the qualifying medical conditions and impairments along with specific requirements. While it is possible to qualify with a condition that is not listed, it is more difficult. Our New Jersey disability lawyers will have to gather medical evidence to demonstrate that your condition is the equivalent of a listed impairment.
Additionally, you must have earned enough work credits to qualify for SSDI. While this is based on your age, typically, an individual needs 40 credits, with at least 20 earned within ten years of the date you became disabled. You are only permitted to earn four credits per year. If you are young, have not worked, or have not paid FICA taxes, you might not qualify for SSDI.
In addition to being included on the list of impairments, your disability must meet the following requirements:
- Your disability must be severe enough to interfere with work.
- Your disability must prevent you from performing your previous work.
- Your disability must prevent you from performing alternate types of work.
If you are earning more than $1,310 per month, you are unlikely to be granted SSDI.
SSI (Supplemental Security Income)
SSDI requires that recipients have already spent a certain amount of time and money paying into the social security system. SSI, on the other hand, has no such requirement because, unlike SSDI, SSI is granted based on financial need. In order to qualify for SSI benefits, you must:
- Be blind, disabled, or at least 65 years old.
- Have limited income (yearly earnings).
- Have limited resources (cash, property, land, stocks, bonds, vehicles, insurance).
More specifically, if you are an individual, your total resources and assets cannot exceed $2,000. For a couple, this amount increases to $3,000. At this point, it is important to discuss what the SSA considers countable income and resources.
Income is anything that could be used for food, shelter, or necessities. A common form of income is a salary or wage. However, unearned income is also included in this calculation. Unearned income ranges from dividends and interest to inheritances.
Resources are an even broader category. First of all, it includes most of your assets. However, your home and one vehicle are exempt. If you have a rental property or multiple cars, you will likely not qualify for SSI. Furthermore, resources will include all resources in your household. If you live with your parents, a sibling, or someone who pays for household expenses, it will count as a resource.
You still must have a qualifying medical condition or impairment. To understand the nuances and eligibility requirements, it is crucial to speak with one of our experienced Trenton, NJ disability attorneys.
Evidence Required to Qualify for Social Security Benefits in Trenton, NJ
The application process for Social Security benefits, whether it SSDI or SSI, is frustrating. As stated previously, over half of all initial claims are denied. In some cases, this is because the claimant does not have a qualifying condition. However, in many cases, a claim is denied because the claimant failed to provide sufficient medical documentation. While our office cannot guarantee your claim will be approved, we will present the most compelling medical evidence possible.
Your Medical Records and Your Doctor’s Notes
When you apply for disability benefits, you will provide your relevant medical records and history for at least a year before the onset of your disability. You will also be required to list your healthcare providers, including your primary physician, specialists, and any medical facilities that treated you. The SSA might request an authorization to request your medical records from those professionals you listed on your application. It is usually a good idea to gather these documents yourself and include them in the application – it saves time and ensures that all the important records are submitted.
While important, medical records rarely tell the complete story. Without context, test results, charts, and other documents will not indicate exactly how your condition affects you or your long-term prognosis. This is where your doctor’s treatment notes and medical source statement helps. By providing a framework to view the medical documentation, the SSA will have a clearer picture of what the medical evidence is attempting to present. More importantly, a written medical source statement will explain how your disability directly impacts your ability to perform your job duties. By detailing your specific diminished capabilities, such as an inability to stand, sit, or concentrate, the SSA will understand why you are unable to work.
The Residual Functional Capacity (RFC) Assessment
The RFC is a medical examination that the SSA uses to determine if you are eligible for disability benefits. While the medical documentation supports that your condition exists, the RFC assesses your physical and mental capabilities. In many ways, this is an official form of your doctor’s notes explaining your limitations caused by your impairment.
During the application process, your information and documents will be sent to your local Disability Determinations Services (DDS) office. At the DDS, a claims examiner will review your application, medical records, and other evidence. This information will also be reviewed by a consulting medical or psychological professional.
Why Trenton, New Jersey Social Disability Claims are Denied
The most common reason why Social Security benefits are denied is that the applicant failed to provide sufficient medical evidence. However, there are other reasons why claims are denied. In most cases, our New Jersey disability lawyers will help you avoid some of the more common errors that occur.
A significant portion of initial disability claims are denied. Many people who receive a denial letter believe that they should file a new disability claim. However, the better option is to file an appeal than to begin the process again. The case examiner assigned to a new case will likely deny your claim after seeing that your previous claim was also denied. The appeals process exists for a reason. It also allows you the opportunity to present additional and more thorough medical evidence.
Monthly income could be an issue if you are applying for SSDI or SSI. Under the SSA guidelines, if you are capable of earning $1,310 a month, you are not eligible for SSDI. This amount is considered substantial gainful activity (SGA). The SSA does increase SGA from year to year. It is important to remember that SSDI is not based on need. However, it is grounded in your inability to earn a living.
SSI, on the other hand, is need-based. If your monthly income exceeds $940 a month, your SSI claim will likely be denied.
Failure to Follow Treatment
You need to follow any treatment prescribed by your doctor. If you fail to follow your medical treatment, the SSA will deny your claim. Your case examiner will not be able to accurately determine if your impairment prohibits you from working if you are not taking steps to mitigate or improve your condition.
In some situations, there is a valid reason for not following through with your doctor’s treatment. This should be brought up during the appeals process. However, this is a difficult hurdle to overcome, even if the reason is legitimate. You will want our seasoned Trenton, NJ disability lawyers representing you.
Not Cooperating with the SSA
The disability benefits process can be challenging and frustrating. Our Trenton disability attorneys will work to make it as painless as possible, but you will still have many responsibilities and tasks. Failing to comply with requests from the SSA or not cooperating will result in your claim being denied.
If the SSA requests documents, they should be submitted promptly. Missing a deadline could derail your application process. Additionally, if you have an appointment or exam scheduled, it is imperative that you attend. Obtaining an approval is difficult when everything goes smoothly. If you work against your interests, you will not receive your much-needed disability benefits.
Our Experienced Trenton, New Jersey Social Security Disability Attorneys Provide Free Consultations
If you’re interested in filing a claim or appealing a denial, Young, Marr, Mallis & Associates can help. Call us today at 1 (609) 755-3115 in New Jersey or (215) 701-6519 in Pennsylvania, or contact us online.