Requirements for Disability Benefits in New Jersey

If you’re a disabled New Jersey resident, and your medical condition prevents you from being able to work, you may be an excellent candidate for monthly disability benefits. These benefits are administered by the Social Security Administration, or SSA, and are available in two varieties known as SSI (Supplemental Security Income) and SSDI (Social Security Disability Insurance). Some people even qualify to receive both at the same time, which is known as receiving concurrent benefits. However, before you can receive assistance, you must file a disability claim, which must then be approved by the SSA.  While the SSA approves millions of Americans for benefits every year, even more people will be rejected than will be accepted into social security programs.

According to statistics, only about 43% of all New Jersey claimants are approved on their first try, while the average acceptance rate drops even lower during the first stage of the appeals process. In order to maximize your chances, it is critically important to have a good understanding of the SSA eligibility requirements for SSI and SSDI applicants.  Wherever you are in the process, the experienced New Jersey social security benefits attorneys of Young, Marr & Associates can help review your materials, guide you through the system, and represent you if your claim is denied. To set up a free and confidential legal consultation, call us today at (609) 755-3115 in New Jersey or (215) 701-6519 in Pennsylvania.

SSA Medical Requirements for Disability Claimants

In an effort to deter fraud and cut down on frivolous claims, the social security system imposes very strict and specific requirements for SSDI and SSI applicants seeking disability benefits. Some of these eligibility criteria are medical, while others relate to your finances and work history. The medical eligibility requirements are that:

  • You must have a disability.
  • Your disability must be classified as severe, meaning it prohibits you from working and earning income. If your impairment is very mild or easy to control, and does not interfere with your employment, you will not be eligible for consideration.
  • Your disability must have either:
    • Already lasted for 12 consecutive months.
    • Be expected to last for at least 12 consecutive months.
    • Be expected to result in death.

When evaluating disabilities, the SSA refers to a large and comprehensive document called the Listing of Impairments, which is nicknamed the “Blue Book.”  As the name suggests, the Listing is essentially a catalog of common medical issues, which are categorized by body system.  In order for you to be considered severely impaired as noted above, your condition must either match or equal the severity standards the Listing supplies for your specific illness or injury.  While all impairments must be considered severe, what makes diabetes severe is very different from what makes epilepsy or anemia severe.  The purpose of the Listing is to establish condition-specific severity requirements. The Listing is relatively expansive, but obviously cannot cover every possible condition.  If your condition is not included in the Listing, you may still be able to qualify if you can demonstrate that you are unable to work due to the effects of your medical issue.  This is known as a medical-vocational allowance.  Furthermore, if your condition is very rare or is an advanced terminal illness, you may be able to locate it under the Compassionate Allowances (CAL) listings.

SSA Income Limits for SSI and SSDI Claimants

Because SSI and SSDI are both intended for disabled individuals, and are differentiated primarily by financial considerations, the finance- and employment-related eligibility requirements vary between the two programs:

  • Income limits:
    • For SSDI claimants: You should not be earning more than $1,070 per month. (This limit is raised to $1,800 per month for blind applicants.)  It should also be noted this threshold, known as SGA (Substantial Gainful Activity), will be raised to $1,090 in 2015, and raised to $1,820 for blind claimants.
    • For SSI claimants: This limit is more complicated than the limit for SSDI.  While the SSI income limit matches the current Federal Benefit Rate (FBR) of $721 per month, this figure is somewhat misleading as not all of your income will be counted toward this limit.  For example, the SSA will not count the first $20 of your monthly income, the first $65 of your monthly earnings, the value of food stamps, and many other exceptions.  It should also be noted the FBR will increase to $733 in 2015.
  • SSDI applicants must have earned a certain total of work credits depending on their age and the age at which they became disabled.  For example, a claimant born after 1929 who became disabled at age 44 would only need 22 credits, while a person who became disabled at age 60 would need 38 credits.
  • SSI applicants must have limited income and resources.  The SSA counts cash, property, life insurance policies, vehicles, bonds, land, and other items as resources.

If you’re thinking about filing a disability claim in New Jersey, or if your application was already denied and you want to appeal, Young, Marr & Associates can help. To set up a totally free and confidential legal consultation, call (609) 755-3115 in New Jersey or (215) 701-6519 in Pennsylvania, or contact our law offices online today.