Social Security Disability Insurance in the State of New Jersey
Despite being the second wealthiest state in the country, substance abuse is an extensive problem in the state of New Jersey. Substance abuse is often associated with illnesses related to mental disorders which account for 34% of those receiving benefits on the Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) program. Others on the beneficiary list include those with disabilities related to musculoskeletal disorders (28%) and the nervous system (10%).
Qualifying for SSDI benefits is easy if you have a disability that prevents you from substantial gainful activity for at least one year. There are other basic conditions of eligibility you must meet such as:
- Your disability must meet a medical condition listed in the Social Security Administration’s (SSA’s) Blue Book.
- You have paid into the Social Security system and have earned enough work credits.
In New Jersey about 44% of the applicants are approved for SSDI benefits at the initial application level.
Filing a Social Security Disability Insurance Claim in New Jersey
About 10.5% of residents in New Jersey suffer from a disability. If your disability is an exact match to one or more of the listings in the Blue Book, your chances for approval of benefits are very good. The SSA also recognizes extremely severe cases of disability that require immediate access to funds and treatment. Such cases are automatically expedited through a fast track application process.
However, the majority of SSDI claimants will have a disability that does not meet an exact listing in the Blue Book. In such cases, approvals are based on medical-vocational evidence that takes into account the claimant’s work history (past 15 years), medical history and treatment, as well as the Residual Functional Capacity (RFC), which is an evaluation of functional limitations caused by the disability. You may be asked to undergo further diagnostics. The disability examiner is the sole decision maker in the initial claims approval process. Benefits are approved through a medical vocational allowance if the examiner finds that your disability prevents you from working at your current employment or any other job for at least a year.
It can take approximately 3 to 5 months to complete the initial application process. It may take longer if the SSA has a backlog in the system. You can help facilitate a quicker process by filing complete and accurate information. A common cause for delays in reaching a determination is because claimants fail to file complete details of their disability such as the onset date, names and contact information of treatment physicians and treatment centers. The more you know what the SSA is looking for the better you can provide what is necessary to prove that you qualify for SSDI benefits.
Click here to know more about the SSDI application process or watch the informative video below.
You can apply for SSDI benefits online, by phone, or in person at a Social Security office near you. In the state of New Jersey there are 25 Social Security offices. Your case will be assigned to a Social Security Disability examiner who works for a state agency. The disability examiner will request for your medical records from the treatment centers you have listed. The examiner will call you for an interview which may be via video or telephone if you are not able to come in person.
With 44% of SSDI claims being awarded benefits at the initial application level in New Jersey, the rest are forced to go through the appeals process. The process of appeals consists of 4 stages.
- Reconsideration: Here, your file is transferred to another disability examiner. This first stage of the appeals process is very similar to the initial application process. You are allowed to submit more recent medical records (not more than 90 days old). The rate of approval at this stage in New Jersey is 14%. Those who are denied at this stage can still appeal at the next level which gives you the highest chance for approval.
- The Court Hearing: Your scheduled hearing may take several months. Your case will be presented before an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ). This is the best opportunity you have to present your case. Having an advocate to represent you at this stage is prudent. As your advocate, Disability United can help you present a winning case. In New Jersey, the approval rate at the disability hearing level is 59%.
- The Appeals Council: The Council will determine whether the decision made by the ALJ was fairly determined by looking at all the evidence once again. The Council can reverse the decision of the ALJ or send your case to another ALJ.
- Federal Review: The last and final stage of appeal is the federal court. Not many choose to go to this last stage because it is expensive and slow and the verdict is less likely to be in favor of the claimant.
All appeals must be filed within 60 days of the date of the denial notice. Missing the date would mean that you have to start the process all over again, losing valuable time. Claimants are allowed to submit evidence for a hearing and they must make sure that updated medical records have been submitted to the ALJ before the scheduled hearing date. All this emphasizes the need for an advocate who specializes in SSDI claims to represent you. Advocates have complete knowledge of the complicated SSDI claims process and know exactly what the judge is looking for. They can help you prepare a case that plainly shows you meet the SSDI criteria. One of the most important factors in an SSDI claim is establishing a disability onset date. This is important because the SSA will start paying benefits from the onset date of your disability. Establishing an early onset date will maximize your back pay.
Do you want to know whether you can qualify for SSDI benefits? Fill out our free disability evaluation form today.
SSDI is a federal program that you have already paid into if you have been contributing to the system through your employment. These are benefits you are entitled to and you should access if you are disabled and unable to work. Fill the form on the right and let us help you get the benefits you deserve.
Helpful Resources for those with Disabilities in New Jersey
If you’re not qualified for Social Security Disability Insurance or would like additional support, the New Jersey State Administration offers several other programs to help people with different disabilities. Follow the links below to know more about these helpful programs:
- New Jersey Department of Developmental Disabilities: This website provides a wide range of resources for people with developmental disabilities looking for assistance in job training, residential services and more.
- The LIHEAP assistance program: This is a federally funded energy bill assistance program. You may be able to receive financial help in the form of a grant or credit on an account. Low-income homes that have a disabled family member, an elderly person or a young child are given priority.
- SNAP Benefits: This federal program may help seniors, low-income workers, those who are disabled, and others put nutritious food on the table. Benefits are given every month through an electronic benefits card which can be used at authorized local food stores.