Many residents of New Jersey have applied for Social Security Disability Insurance benefits and come away empty handed when their applications were denied. In many such cases, the applicant may have lacked the necessary understanding of SSDI benefits criteria and failed to provide the required information to satisfy those criteria.

SSDI benefits are a federal benefits program administered by the Social Security Administration. To be eligible for SSDI benefits, a person must be totally disabled by a medical condition, either an injury or a disease that is expected to be permanent or to result in death within 12 months. The SSDI benefits program differs from workers’ compensation provided under New Jersey state law in two respects: under workers’ compensation, the disability is not required to be permanent or total, but it must have resulted from a work-related injury or condition.

The success of an SSDI claim rests on two kinds of evidence: employment information and medical information. The applicant is responsible for gathering and organizing the evidence and presenting it to the SSA. The employment information must prove that the applicant is totally disabled and unable to work. The medical evidence must prove that the disabling injury or illness is permanent or likely to result in death within 12 months. The medical evidence must contain the written opinion of at least one qualified health care provider who can attest to the disabling effect of the illness or injury and to its permanence.

An SSA employee will review the application and make a recommendation about granting or denying the application. Most applications are initially denied, and an appeal will be necessary. While many SSDI claimants are capable of preparing the basic application without help, the complexity of the medical evidence may require professional assistance. An attorney who is experienced in handling SSDI claims may be able to offer valuable assistance in preparing and presenting the initial application. If an appeal is required, a lawyer will be able to prepare the appeal and present it in the most effective fashion.