Will I Qualify For Disability Benefits in New Jersey?
If you are a resident of the state of New Jersey your chances of qualifying for Social Security Disability or SSI are better than in many other states. In fact, New Jersey's Initial disability approval rate (meaning the approal rate on a disability application) is 43.4% while the national initial disability claim approval rate is 32.1%.
Once you file your disability claim in New Jersey, your case will be sent to one of three Disability Determination Services locations for a disability determination. If you live in the northern New Jersey area, your disability claim will be sent to the Newark DDS; if you live in the central New Jersey are, your disability claim will be sent to the New Brunswick DDS; and if you live in the southern New Jersey area your disability claim will be sent to the Trenton DDS.
Decisions on disability claims in New Jersey
Once your disability claim is at the DDS, it is assigned to a disability examiner for a disability determination. The disability examiner will get your medical records (records from the medical treating sources you provided to Social Security during your disability interview), review your work information (any job you have had in the fifteen years prior to filing for disability that you had three months or more and earned SGA may be considered), and schedule any necessary consultative medical examinations that might be necessary to make a disability determination.
Social Security Disability requires that you have a medically determinable disabling mental or physical condition and that this condition or condition has prevented the ability to perform substantial, gainful work activity. For this reason, they must have current information about your disabling conditions (medical records that are no more than ninety days old) and your work history to make a disability determination.
Once the disability examiner has enough information on file, they make a determination as to whether or not you medically qualify for disability. If you are approved for disability, your disability claim will be sent back to your local Social Security office for final adjudication. The reason it is sent back to your local Social Security office is that there are non-medical disability criteria that must be reviewed prior to a final determination of disability.
What happens if your disability claim in New Jersey is denied?
If your disability claim is denied, you will have to begin the Social Security Disability appeal process if you wish to continue your disability claim. The first level of the appeal process is a Request for Reconsideration. Reconsideration appeals have a very low approval rate, and the approval rate for New Jersey is not much different in this respect.
However, the reconsideration approval rate of 14.6 % is higher than the national average approval rate of 11.3%. That said, if your reconsideration appeal is denied, you must file a Request for Administrative Law Judge Review to continue your disability claim.
The chances of approval at a disability hearing in New Jersey
Administrative Law Judge Review appeals enjoy the highest approval rate of all levels of the Social Security Disability process. If you have to file for a disability hearing, your chances of qualifying for disability dramatically improve over the prior two levels (disability application and request for reconsideration appeal).
Administrative law judges have much more flexibility when making their disability decisions. Judges can use medical and/or vocational experts to help make their disability decisions; however they and they alone make the final disability decision. At this point in your disability claim, a claimant should consider disability representation; whether provided by a non-attorney disability representative or disability attorney, you need someone who is familiar with Social Security Disability guidelines to present the facts of your disability case in a manner that is most favorable to your claim.
In recent years, unrepresented claimants have had approval rates hovering around forty percent, while those with representation have had an approval rate of over sixty percent.
The disability hearing approval rate in New Jersey is 68.6%, while the national hearing approval rate is 58.3%.
In general, New Jersey disability claimants have a better than average chance of qualifying for disability at all levels of the Social Security Disability process from initial disability claim through the Administrative law judge disability hearing.
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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