No one ever expects to become disabled, but it can happen. A painful cough can lead to a diagnosis of pleural mesothelioma. A slip-and-fall accident could result in a non-healing leg fracture that makes extended standing impossible. Whatever the cause, disability can leave you in a troubling financial situation.
According to the CDC, one in four adults has some form of disability. In some cases, your condition can prevent you from working: each year, approximately 5% of working Americans will experience a short-term disability that’s non-occupational in origin and therefore not covered by workers’ compensation. Others are affected for much longer and need to apply for Social Security Disability.
If you are unable to work because of a physical and/or mental impairment and your condition is expected to last at least 12 months or end in death, you may qualify for federal Social Security Disability benefits. The Vineland, NJ Social Security Disability lawyers at Bross & Frankel, PA, are here to help you file for the disability benefits you need or appeal a denial.
How Do You Qualify for Social Security Disability?
How Do You Qualify for Social Security Disability? If you’ve ever qualified for short-term disability, you’ll find that the Social Security Administration (SSA) has different criteria. The SSA only pays benefits for total disability: short-term or partial disability is not covered. To be considered disabled under Social Security rules, the following must be true in your case:
- A medical condition prevents you from doing work or engaging in substantial gainful activity.
- Due to your medical condition, you are unable to do the work you did previously or adjust to other types of work.
- Your impairment is expected to last (or has lasted) at least 12 months or end in death.
If you’re working at the time you apply, the SSA will review your earnings to confirm whether you’re participating in substantial gainful activity. In 2022, this means that you’re averaging more than $1,350 per month ($2,260 if you are blind). If you’re not performing SGA (or not working at all), the SSA will send your application to the nearest Disability Determination Services (DDS) office, which will review it to confirm the following:
- The Severity of Your Condition: The condition must significantly restrict your ability to perform basic work-related activities, such as walking, sitting, and lifting, for at least 12 months.
- You Have a Listed Condition: The SSA maintains the Blue Book, which is its manual for disabling impairments. It includes osteoarthritis, chronic heart disease, lupus, and certain cancers. In cases where your condition is not on the list, the SSA must decide whether it is as severe as a listed condition. If so, it should find that you have a qualifying disability. If not, Disability Determination Services will decide if your impairment prevents you from performing work you’ve done in the past or any other kind of work. If not, your claim should be approved.
Certain conditions automatically qualify for SSD benefits through the Compassionate Allowances program, which expedites the processing of your claim. There are over 200 conditions in this category, including:
- Certain cancers in the advanced stage
- Organ transplantation
- Early-onset Alzheimer’s disease
- Multiple sclerosis
- Parkinson’s disease
If you are approved for a Compassionate Allowance, you will get benefits more quickly than you would have otherwise.
How do I Apply for Social Security Disability Benefits in Vineland, NJ?
How do I Apply for Social Security Disability Benefits? To apply for Social Security Disability benefits, start by gathering the information the SSA will require. Then download and fill out a copy of the Social Security Disability report form, which will ask for your personal and medical information, contact details for your doctors, and your job history.
You should also obtain copies of your medical records before submitting your Social Security Disability application. While the SSA may obtain your medical records on your behalf, having them ready when you file your claim can help expedite the process and improve your chances of getting approved for disability benefits.
You can apply for SSDI online, on the phone, or in person. After receiving your application and all of the required documentation, the SSA will begin reviewing your claim. There is a possibility that you will be asked to undergo a consultative exam, which will be paid for by the SSA. The purpose of the exam is to determine whether or not your condition meets the disability guidelines, and failure to attend may result in a denial of your claim.
You can expect to wait three to four months for the SSA to process your disability claim. If your claim is approved, you’ll receive a letter stating how much your monthly benefits will be and how much back pay you’re entitled to (if any).
How do I Qualify for SSDI in Vineland, NJ?
How do I Qualify for SSDI in Vineland, NJ? To be eligible for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits, you must:
- Have a medical condition that leaves you unable to maintain gainful employment
- Have earned sufficient work credits by working and paying into Social Security
- Have a monthly earned income below the substantial gainful activity limit of $1470
Work credits are calculated based on your total yearly employment or self-employment income. Each year, you can earn up to four credits. The amount needed for a work credit is subject to change: in 2023, for instance, each $1,640 in wages or self-employment income will earn you one credit. Once you’ve made $6,560, you’ve earned four work credits.
How many credits you will need to qualify for SSDI benefits will depend on how old you are at the onset of your disability. In general, you need 40 credits, 20 of which must have been earned within the 10 years preceding your disability. Younger workers may qualify with fewer credits, however. If approved, you become eligible for Medicare coverage after 24 months.
How do I Qualify for SSI in Vineland, NJ?
How do I Qualify for SSI in Vineland, NJ? Unlike SSDI, Supplemental Security Income (SSI) is aimed at those who:
- Are blind, disabled, or aged 65 and older and;
- Have limited income and resources
For 2023, SSI’s limited income standard is $914 per month for individuals and $1,370 for couples. Your countable resources, which include cash, stocks, bonds, and real estate (aside from your home) must not exceed $2,000 if you are single or $3,000 if married.
To apply for SSI benefits, you must visit your local SSA field office and provide medical evidence and financial information that confirm your eligibility. When applying for SSDI and SSI at the same time, you can complete the application process online. If you want to apply for SSI online, however, you have to:
- Be 18 to 65 years old
- Never have been married
- Not be blind.
- Live in one of the 50 states, the District of Columbia, or the Northern Mariana Islands.
In addition, you cannot have previously applied for or received SSI benefits.
If your claim is approved, you will also be eligible for healthcare coverage through Medicaid.
How Much Does Social Security Disability Pay?
How Much Does Social Security Disability Pay? How much you receive in monthly disability benefits will depend on which program you’re applying for as well as your employment history (for SSDI).
- For SSI, the maximum benefit payment in 2023 is $914 for individuals and $1,371 for a couple. New Jersey supplements these payments, however, so you will normally receive more.
- For SSDI, the average amount paid to individuals in 2023 is $1,483. How much you actually receive will depend on how many work credits you earned before becoming disabled.
What If Your Social Security Disability Claim Is Denied?
What If Your Social Security Disability Claim Is Denied? If your disability claim is denied, it’s upsetting but not unusual. By its own admission, the SSA denies the overwhelming majority of initial claims. Fortunately, there is a detailed appeals process that makes it easier to win the benefits you need.
The disability appeals process begins by filing a request for reconsideration within 60 days of the date on your denial letter. You will want to address the reasons why your claim was denied, which will be outlined in the letter. For example, if the SSA concluded that your medical condition was not severe enough, you will want to submit additional evidence, such as new medical documentation and letters from friends, family, employers, and coworkers who can explain how your disability has impacted your ability to work and even function.
If the SSA examiner who handles your request for reconsideration denies your claim, you can appeal once more by asking for a hearing before an administrative law judge. The judge may approve your claim or they may deny it. If the latter happens, the next hearing stage is the SSA Appeals Council and possibly the federal court.
How Can a Social Security Disability Attorney Help?
How Can a Social Security Disability Attorney Help? When you hire a disability attorney at the beginning, you will have a better chance of obtaining Social Security Disability benefits without having to request an administrative hearing with a judge or wait an extended period of time before receiving them.
Your lawyer can assist you in presenting a strong claim for benefits, accompanied by all necessary financial, vocational, and medical information. However, even if the SSA denies your claim at the initial application stage, an experienced attorney can help you through the reconsideration process, represent you at any administrative hearing, and ultimately assist you with obtaining the SSD benefits you deserve.
Get a Free Consultation From a Vineland, NJ Social Security Disability Lawyer
Bross & Frankel, PA, is recognized as one of New Jersey’s leading Social Security Disability firms. Our Vineland, NJ Disability lawyers have won thousands of claims over the years, including disability hearings before administrative law judges (ALJs) and appeals before the SSA Appeals Council and federal court judges. We are thoroughly familiar with the criteria you need to meet for disability benefits as well as alternative options like medical-vocational allowances. We succeed because we pay attention to the details that make or break claims.
If you’re a former worker who needs help accessing SSDI or has questions about meeting the income or asset levels for SSI, we’re here to help. In addition to Vineland, we serve clients across Southern New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Delaware. We accept cases on a contingency basis, so if we don’t win benefits for you, you owe us nothing. To schedule your free consultation with an SSD lawyer, call 856-210-3345 or contact us online.