Hiring a Qualified Disability Lawyer in New Jersey
Claimants who are represented on disability claims in New Jersey tend to have a higher rate of approval, a need for fewer appeals, and more favorable "dates of onset" (the date the disability is proven to have begun) that lead to higher back pay benefits.
Representation may be through a disability lawyer or a specialized non-attorney disability representative. Many non-attorney reps are former Social Security Administration Claims Specialists and Disability Examiners with an extended history of working from within the federal system.
A qualified disability representative will have a knowledge of Social Security administrative law, particularly with regard to how claims are approved through the Social Security listings and the medical vocational grid rules. A qualified and competent disability representative or lawyer will also be skilled in the ability to obtain the most relevant case evidence, analyze it correctly, and incorporate it as part of a winning strategy for a claim.
To learn about fees for representation, see: "How do disability lawyers get paid?"
If you are considering filing for Social Security Disability (SSD) or SSI in New Jersey, there are a few things you should know up front, and this may fall into the categories of Social Security Disability tips, Social Security Disability help, and Social Security Disability advice.
One is that the process of getting approved for disability benefits in New Jersey is one that some, if not most claimants find both time-consuming and complicated. There are a number of medical records that must be gathered and possibly multiple interviews involved; some people find that this is all a bit much to cope with on their own, especially when they are already coping with a medical condition that has diminished their physical (or mental) stamina.
Another thing to consider if you are filing for Social Security Disability or filing for SSI benefits in New Jersey is that, like all other states in the nation, the odds of being approved for benefits at the initial application level are slim. Nationally, approximately 70 percent of all disability applicants are denied, and about 81% of first appeals (also called requests for reconsideration) to disability determination services are denied as well.
It is absolutely possible to win disability benefits in New Jersey without legal counsel, and a significant number of applicants are awarded benefits within a few months of filing for disability. However, these cases are in the minority. Most disability cases must be appealed, first to the state disability determination service agency, and then before a federal administrative law judge before they are finally approved (if they are approved).
Some claimants, particularly those who are unable to advocate for themselves due to their medical, psychological, or mental conditions, should consider getting a lawyer involved as early in their case as possible.
An experienced disability lawyer can take over much of the filing and information-gathering that must be done to prove your disability, interfacing with physicians' offices and the social security administration as necessary. And, should you be required to file a request for reconsideration, your attorney will make sure that all deadlines associated with the appeal are met. This is very important, because if you miss the deadline for filing your appeal your claim is automatically denied and you will be forced to start over with a new claim.
In New Jersey, the minute the social security administration is informed that a disability lawyer is representing you, your lawyer will automatically receive copies of all notices from social security regarding your claim, which means that both you and the attorney will be notified of all developments in your case, and there is a slim to none chance that any deadline or request for further information will be missed.
Finally, if you are filing for disability benefits in New Jersey, you need to keep in mind that the inital and reconsideration disability decision your case will most likely end up before an administrative judge. This is because most claims are denied by disability examiners at disability determination services, which makes it necessary for claimants to file a second social security appeal, or to request a social security hearing before an administrative law judge.
The good news is that, when represented by a disability attorney, applicants stand their best chance of winning disability benefits at Social Security Disability hearings: About 60 of cases presented to disability judges by attorneys or non-attorney representatives are approved.
Those filing for disability benefits in New Jersey should strongly consider obtaining legal counsel of some sort, if not when they first apply, then definitely upon giving notice to social security that they want to appear before a federal administrative judge.
About the Author: Tim Moore is a former Social Security Disability Examiner in North Carolina, has been interviewed by the NY Times and the LA Times on the disability system, and is an Accredited Disability Representative (ADR) in North Carolina. For assistance on a disability application or Appeal in NC, click here.
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