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Hackensack Disability Law Blog

What changes to SSI benefits should I be aware of for 2018?

New Jersey residents who are seeking Supplemental Security Income or are already receiving SSI benefits should know that the Social Security Administration will generally alter the amount that the recipient receives on an annual basis. Since 2018 has just begun, it is important to know the amounts that people in various situations will receive once they are approved for SSI benefits. It is also imperative that people know how their benefits might change if they have been approved and are already receiving benefits.

SSI is for those who are 65 or older, blind, or disabled. Those who seek or are getting SSI must have little to no income and limited resources. The resources for a single person must be less than $2,000. For a married couple, it must be less than $3,000. A home in which the person lives and, generally, the value of a vehicle, will not be counted. Often, New Jersey will add money to the payment the person gets from the SSA. People receiving SSI will also be eligible for Medicaid. It is also possible that people getting SSI can receive benefits from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.

SSDI and SSI changes for 2018

Every year, there is a cost of living adjustment (COLA) to the amounts paid monthly for SSDI and SSI. In 2018, the increase is two percent overall.

It’s still hardly enough to even make a dent in living here in New Jersey, but every little bit helps. Here is a rundown of all the changes in payments and eligibility requirements which take effect this year.

What if I have a representative payee for my SSD benefits?

For some New Jersey residents who are seeking or already have been approved for Social Security disability benefits, it will be decided by the Social Security Administration that they need a representative payee to handle their finances. This is not done randomly and the goal is to ensure that the person who is getting SSD benefits is protected.

The SSA will generally pick a person who knows the recipient and is willing to help. It should also be a person who is in frequent contact with the recipient and understands their needs. The recipient can request a specific person to be the representative payee and the SSA will take it into consideration. Some people do not think they need a representative payee or want someone other than the one the SSA has chosen. This decision on the representative can be appealed within 60 days of the decision.

SSD and mental health conditions

Mental illness can be pervasive and debilitating, with symptoms striking in varying degrees impacting day to day abilities. The ever changing nature of mental illness means a one size fits all approach for diagnosis and treatment is not feasible.

While you can collect social security disability (SSD) for both physical and mental conditions, making a successful mental health claim can be more difficult. With conditions ranging from physiological to neurological, mental health diagnoses have become a catchall diagnosis that is prohibitive for a SSD claim.

How do financial institution accounts affect my SSI benefits?

New Jersey residents who are eligible to receive Supplemental Security Income must follow certain requirements to retain them. The basics are relatively easy to remember, such as the person must be blind, be age 65 or older, or be disabled, and must have an income below a certain level and have limited resources. However, those who have resources should be aware of how this can affect their SSI-related benefits. That includes money in financial institutions. The Social Security Administration will look at the account and use it to determine if it will influence the person's eligibility to receive SSI.

Financial institutions can fall into numerous categories. They can be a checking account, a savings account, money in a credit union, money market accounts and more. It can be an individual or a joint account. Distinguishing between individual and joint accounts is important. The individual account will have a single person's name on it and, in general, only that person can withdraw from it. A joint account will have more than one person's name on it and all who are named can withdraw from it.

If I am blind or have vision issues, can I get SSD benefits?

Residents of New Jersey who are blind or have vision issues might be able to get Social Security disability. For those who are blind, there are two separate programs that can help. They are the Social Security Disability Insurance program and Supplemental Security Income. The SSA will use the same medical rules for each to determine if the person is blind.

For people who have vision issues that cannot be corrected better than 20/200 in the better eye or if the visual field is 20 degrees or less in the better eye and the problem has lasted or will last for 12 months, they will be considered blind. Even if the person is not blind, there is a chance they can receive disability benefits. If the person is seeking SSDI, they must have worked for a sufficient time where Social Security taxes were paid. If it is SSI due to blindness they are seeking, they did not need to have worked, but their income and resources must be below a certain level.

Legal assistance for New Jersey ERISA claims and appeals

When a New Jersey resident is filing an insurance claim under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act, there are important facts to remember. This is true whether the case is being negotiated or there is a trial after the claim is being disputed or was denied. Understanding the claims and appeals processes is not a simple matter, and it would be a mistake to move forward without having assistance from an experienced attorney.

The ERISA claims process has nuances that must be considered. The preparation of the filing, ensuring all the information is correct and other basic factors can be just as important as the issues that led to filing. Filling out the claims forms accurately, providing all the necessary medical evidence and documentation and more are key. These documents are generally acquired from the insurance company or the employer's human resource department.

What is deeming with SSI benefits for children?

New Jersey parents who have a child who is disabled will often have questions about Supplemental Security Income. Understanding how parental income and resources are deemed when the decision is made whether the child can get SSI-related benefits is key. A disabled child under age 18 who has working parents might still be able to get SSI benefits. The Social Security Administration will assess the parental income and resources before making its decision. This is a foundational aspect of the SSA's decision.

There will be deeming when the parents have income and resources, and if the child is under 18 and lives with the parents or lives away at school but is home for weekends, holidays, when there are school vacations and the child is under the parents' supervision. Deeming will be applicable even if there is a stepparent in the household.

What medical evidence is necessary for disability benefits?

For people in New Jersey who are seeking Social Security disability benefits, there are various criteria that must be met before they can get an approval. One of the most important factors in the case is meeting the medical requirements. Evidence is integral to this process. The Social Security Administration must receive the evidence in the proper form. Knowing and following these requirements is imperative as many people who might otherwise have been approved for SSD benefits are denied for the simple fact that they did not give the proper evidence.

When the applicant has gotten treatment for the medical issue, evidence must be provided to the SSA. Included should be copies of the medical records, reports from doctors and recent test results. This is applicable for any injury, illness or condition that prevents or hinders the ability to work. The SSA will request this information from the treating sources, but, if the applicant already has the information, sending copies to the SSA will expedite the claim. However, if the applicant does not have the information, the application should not be delayed because of it.