How to file a disability appeal in New Jersey

There are several ways to appeal a denial of a claim if you have applied for Social Security Disability or SSI in New Jersey, or if you have filed your first appeal (a reconsideration request) and need to file your second appeal (a request for a disability hearing).

1. The first way would be to call the SSA toll-free line at 1-800-772-1213. My own advice, as a former disability examiner, would be to never call this number. It has been the experience of many individuals who have worked to assist disability claimants, including myself, that the toll-free services operated by SSA often lead to incorrect information being provided to claimants, sometimes with unfortunate and time-costly results.

2. The second way to file an appeal would be to simply contact the social security office where you did your application for disability (or did a prior appeal), either by phone, or by visiting that local office in person. After you contact the social security office, they can either send you the necessary appeal forms for you to return to them (in person or by mail), OR you can print these forms yourself from the social security website and then return them to the social security office.

Printing them yourself will save you a few days time that would be consumed by mail, but if you print your own forms you will need to make sure that A) you print the correct forms from the SSA site and also B) that you print out the medical release forms (form SSA-827) that social security will need from you to obtain any additional medical records. For most people, it will probably be less problematic to simply contact the social security office and have them mail the appeal forms and the medical release forms to you.

3. The third way, and the simplest way, to file an appeal would be to have your New Jersey disability attorney, or non-attorney disability representative, assuming you are represented, do the appeal.

Individuals who have already been denied and are now at the reconsideration appeal stage OR have been denied on a reconsideration and need to file a request for a social security hearing should probably consider getting representation. Of course, if you are represented, your designated representative should handle your appeal paperwork for you.

Note: There are some attorneys and representatives in New Jersey who actually put in a strong effort toward winning a claim at the disability application level--so, yes, sometimes having a lawyer at the earliest stage possible can be of great benefit, but it really depends on getting a pro-active person to represent your claim.

If you are represented and receive a notice of disapproved claim (i.e. a notice of denial), then your first step should be to contact your disability lawyer (or your non-attorney advocate if this is the case) and advise them that you have been denied. Your rep will usually receive copies of whatever notice you receive, but this does not always happen and sometimes the claimant will get the notice first; therefore calling is always a good idea to ensure that both parties know exactly what is happening on the case.

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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