How to Get Approved for Disability the First Time in Pennsylvania or NJ

The Social Security Administration (SSA) administers two programs which provide disability benefits for qualified applicants in New Jersey and Pennsylvania: Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), which is based on earned “work credits,” and Supplemental Security Income (SSI), which is intended for low-income applicants who do not have a work history. While disability benefits provide essential support for millions of Americans, they can also be difficult to obtain, with roughly two-thirds of all claims initially denied by the SSA. You can improve your odds of qualifying by working with an experienced attorney who knows the system – and its challenges. In this article, our Pennsylvania disability lawyers explain how to apply for SSDI benefits in Pennsylvania or New Jersey, going over the rules and standards you’ll need to meet to get approved.

What Are the Chances of Getting Approved for Disability?

According to the SSA, disability benefits were awarded to more than 10 million applicants in 2017, the most recent year for which statistical data is available. Most of these benefits – about 88%  – were awarded to disabled workers, such as SSDI applicants who earned enough “work credits”: an important topic our Philadelphia SSDI lawyers will explain in just a few moments. First, we’ll take a closer look at disability claim approval statistics.

Unfortunately, only about 36% of all disability claims nationally are approved on the first round. That means nearly two-thirds of all claims, or about 64%, wind up being rejected. While it may be possible to successfully appeal a denied disability claim, the ideal outcome is having the claim approved right away, which will enable you to start receiving your benefits sooner. Our New Jersey disability lawyers can help you prepare the strongest SSDI claim possible, increasing your chances of success and making it easier to get approved.

What Conditions Qualify for Disability Benefits?

There are numerous mental, physical, adult, and childhood conditions that qualify for disability benefits, including but not limited to cancer, cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, Crohn’s disease, diabetes, HIV/AIDS, arthritis, paralysis, anxiety, depression, and chronic pain. The SSA is less concerned with the nature of your condition than it is with its severity. In order for you to qualify, your condition must be so severe that:

  • You cannot do substantial work due to your condition
  • You condition has lasted, or is expected to last, for at least 12 months

The severity of your disability must be evaluated and confirmed by an SSA doctor, who may review your medical records and perform various examinations.

How Do You Get Approved for Social Security Disability?

As the previous section explains, you must have a serious medical condition in order to qualify for Social Security Disability Insurance. In addition, you must also meet certain standards involving your work history. (If you do not have a work history, you may qualify for SSI as an alternative to SSDI.)

For your SSDI claim to be approved on the first round, you must show that you have earned an appropriate number of “work credits” (also known as “Social Security credits”). You can earn a maximum of up to four work credits each year, or a total of one credit per quarter.

Work credits are calculated based on your earnings, but amounts fluctuate from year to year to account for inflation. For example, in 2019, you earn one work credit per each $1,360 of earnings. But remember: you cannot earn more than four work credits per year, which means your credits stop accumulating at $5,440, even if you continue to earn income.

The total number of work credits you need depends on your current age, how old you were when you became disabled, and other factors. Most applicants need at least 40 credits, but exceptions sometimes arise, particularly around younger applicants. Needless to say, children are not expected to have a work history, but must meet other qualifying standards.

What Happens When Your SSDI Claim is Approved?

Regardless of whether your claim is denied or approved, the SSA will send you written notification stating its decision and explaining its reasoning. If you disagree with the SSA’s reasoning for denying your claim, or believe that you were denied unfairly, you should discuss the situation with a disability appeals attorney, who can help you request reconsideration and potentially, obtain a better outcome.

If your disability claim is accepted, you should begin to receive your SSDI benefits during the sixth month of your disability. For instance, if you became disabled in January, you would be able to start receiving payments in June. The amount of benefits that you will receive depends on many factors, but the monthly average is approximately $1,230 as of 2019.

Philadelphia SSDI Attorneys Serving Pennsylvania and NJ

Applying for disability benefits is often a complex and frustrating process, especially when you are dealing with severe pain or loss of mobility. Let the trusted disability lawyers at Young, Marr, Mallis & Associates make the process easier by preparing and filing your claim. For a free legal consultation, contact us online today, or call 24 hours at (215) 515-2954.

Related Articles

How Bankruptcy Can Protect You

Filing for bankruptcy is often thought of as a sign of failure. At best, it is seen as a last resort when faced with too many bills, collection letters, or […]

Read More »

Means Testing in Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 Bankruptcy

Bankruptcy has many layers. Before filing, a potential debtor will have to gather their bills, bank statements, tax returns, and proof of all household income for the previous six months. […]

Read More »

How Many Types of Social Security Benefits Are Available?

While it is necessary to be disabled to receive disability benefits, the non-medical requirements are different for each category. You may be entitled to one or more types of benefits. […]

Read More »

Have an Attorney Review Your Case for Free

Get a Free Case Evaluation

Contact Our Attorneys To Learn How We Can Help Your Case


12 Convenient Locations Across Pennsylvania and New Jersey

Philadelphia, PA

7909 Bustletown Ave, 1st Floor Philadelphia, PA 19152 (215) 607-7478 Get Directions

Quakertown, PA

328 Broad St. Quakertown, PA 18951 (215) 515-6876 Get Directions

Allentown, PA

137 N 5th St. Suite A Allentown, PA 18102 (215) 240-4082 Get Directions

Jenkintown, PA

135 Old York Road Jenkintown, PA 19046 (215) 544-3347 Get Directions

Easton, PA

101 Larry Holmes Dr. #212 Easton, PA 18042 (215) 515-7077 Get Directions

Bala Cynwyd, PA

2 Bala Plaza, Suite 300 Bala Cynwyd, PA 19004 (610) 557-3209 Get Directions

Bensalem, PA

3554 Hulmeville Rd, #102 Bensalem, PA 19020 (215) 515-6389 Get Directions

Plymouth Meeting, PA

600 W. Germantown Pike #400 Plymouth Meeting, PA 19462 (215) 515-6876 Get Directions

Harrisburg, PA

2225 Sycamore St Harrisburg, PA 17111 (717) 864-8887 Get Directions

Cinnaminson, NJ

909 Route 130 South #202 Cinnaminson, NJ 08077 (609) 796-4344 Get Directions

Hamilton Twp., NJ

100 Horizon Center Blvd., 1st and 2nd Floors Hamilton Township, NJ 08691 (609) 236-8649 Get Directions

Marlton, NJ

10000 Lincoln Drive E One Greentree Centre, Suite 201 Marlton, NJ 08053 (856) 213-2805 Get Directions

Piscataway, NJ

200 Centennial Ave. Suite 200 Piscataway, NJ 08854 (908) 367-7256 Get Directions