New Jersey SSD Lawyer

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Social Security Disability Insurance (SSD or SSDI) is a federal program that provides financial benefits to disabled individuals who can no longer work. Although this program offers vital assistance to many people who need it, applying for SSD benefits can be intimidating and discouraging. Most first-time applications are denied, but many applicants can receive benefits on appeal. However, the appeals process is often challenging and fraught with bureaucratic delays.

For this reason and many more, you should work with an experienced New Jersey SSD lawyer who can guide you every step of the way. At the law firm of Pellettieri Rabstein & Altman, our compassionate attorneys understand the ins and outs of the Social Security application and appeals processes. We know how to craft a successful claim.

Do not hesitate to contact us today to discuss your case in a free initial consultation.

How Our New Jersey SSD Attorneys Can Help You Get the Benefits You Need

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The New Jersey disability attorneys at Pellettieri Rabstein & Altman have decades of experience representing New Jersey clients in various complex and contentious SSD claims. We currently serve more than 25 New Jersey unions and civil service workers. Our relentless advocacy has allowed us to recover hundreds of millions of dollars in compensation for deserving people like you.

Our New Jersey SSD attorneys are prepared to help you during the application process to give your claim the best chance at success. For example, we can make sure all application forms are correctly filled out and filed on time. We can work with your medical providers and vocational experts to gain a comprehensive understanding of your condition and your limitations and then clearly communicate that to the Social Security Administration (SSA).

If the SSA has denied your initial claim – as is often the case – do not give up hope. Many valid claims initially meet with a denial but go on to find success on appeal. Our lawyers are ready to advocate for your best interests at every step of the appeals process. We have the resources necessary to prepare a compelling appeal and fight for your rights during administrative hearings and in court, if necessary.

From our clients

I came to PRA with my workmen compensation case . Gary Adams represented me . Gary was recommended to me by a friend and I in turn recommended Gary to another friend. Gary and his paralegal Jennifer are very good with communication and keeping me well informed in regards to my case : answering emails & returning my calls . I have and I will continue to recommend Gary and his staff to my friends .


My experience with Pellettien Rabstein & Altman was a great one! Every step of the way they were there with me, they made sure I got the justice I deserved. Whenever I called there was someone to answer the questions I had, the receptionist and secretary were friendly and very polite. Anytime, any day, I will recommend Counselor Gary Adams to represent any of my family or friends.


I have dealt with this firm for over 7 years on a very complicated Workmans Compensation case.
I have dealt with a myriad of legal firms throughout the country for over 30 years in my positions of CEO. And this firm is by far, the best firm I have ever dealt with.


My attorney at Pellettieri Rabstein & Altman was amazing and I can’t thank the firm enough for their insights and assistance! I would highly recommend them!


It was a very long and arduous time (13 years to bring this before a Judge). Living out of state made it particularly hard. Attorney Monaghan of Pellettieri Rabstein & Altman in New Jersey was diligent in helping through the morass of a very difficult workers’ comp claim resultant from an assault on a flight over international waters. I am permanently disabled from this assault and appreciate PR&A’s help.


Pellettieri Rabstein & Altman has very knowledgeable attorneys who are responsive and professional. Jeff Monaghan is an excellent example of this.


Pellettieri Rabstein & Altman listened to my needs and helped me get a larger settlement than I expected. They were very attentive and kind.


Pellettieri Rabstein & Altman is an outstanding firm.


Types of Disability Benefits Available from Social Security

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The SSA provides disability benefits through two programs: Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI). The two programs assist individuals with medically verifiable disabilities, but each program has several important distinctions.

  • SSDI benefits are exclusively for disabled individuals who have “paid in” to the system by earning a certain number of work credits. You earn work credits by working and paying Social Security taxes on your income. The number of work credits you need to qualify varies based on age and work history.
  • SSI benefits, on the other hand, provide assistance to recipients based on financial need. To qualify for SSI payments, you must be at least 65 years old, be totally or partially blind, or have a disabling medical condition.

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How Social Security Determines If You Are ‘Disabled’

Whether you apply for SSDI or SSI benefits or both, you must supply evidence that you qualify as medically disabled according to the SSA’s definition. After the SSA confirms your basic eligibility, they will forward your application to New Jersey’s Disability Determination Services (DDS) office. This state agency will review the medical facts of your case and evaluate your ability to perform work-related tasks. Sometimes, DDS may request additional medical information or ask you to sit for an examination.

The state DDS office focuses on the following criteria to determine whether you qualify as medically disabled:

Whether you are currently working

If you are currently working and your income is above a certain threshold, you generally will not qualify as disabled. The maximum amount you can earn through substantial gainful activity (SGA) varies based on national wage averages and whether you are legally blind.

The severity of your medical condition

If you are not working or earning too much, DDS will examine the severity of your condition. To be considered “severe,” your condition must substantially impair your ability to perform basic tasks like lifting, standing, or recalling information for at least 12 months

Whether your condition is in the Blue Book

If your condition is considered severe, the next step involves comparing the condition to those in the SSA’s Listing of Impairments, also known as the Blue Book. If your condition is listed in the Blue Book or deemed medically equivalent to one of the listed impairments, you should qualify for disability benefits.

Your ability to do the work you did before

If your condition is not listed or is not medically equivalent to a Blue Book condition, DDS will consider your ability to do any of the types of work you have done in the past. If you can still do the work you did in previous jobs despite your condition, you likely will not qualify.

Your ability to do any other types of work

If your medical condition prevents you from doing the work you have done in the past, DDS will then consider your ability to do other work. The agency will consider your age, education, work experience, and skills to make its determination. If they decide you are capable of finding work, you will not qualify for SSDI benefits.

Common Types of Disabilities That May Entitle You to SSD Benefits

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The SSA recognizes all disabilities listed in the Blue Book as conditions that may meet its definition of disability. People with the following types of disabilities may be entitled to SSDI benefits:

  • Musculoskeletal conditions, such as chronic joint pain and spinal disorders
  • Sensory or speech impairments, such as partial or total blindness or deafness
  • Respiratory conditions like chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
  • Cardiovascular conditions, such as congenital heart disease or arrhythmia
  • Digestive conditions like bowel or liver disease or chronic kidney disease
  • Blood conditions, such as sickle cell anemia, hemophilia, or marrow failure
  • Skin conditions, such as severe burns, dermatitis, and ichthyosis conditions
  • Endocrine disorders, such as diabetes and certain thyroid conditions
  • Congenital disorders, such as Down’s syndrome and spina bifida
  • Neurological disorders, such as epilepsy, multiple sclerosis, and Parkinson’s
  • Cognitive disorders, such as bipolar disorder, dementia, and schizophrenia
  • Certain cancers, such as pancreatic, esophageal, or gallbladder cancer
  • Immune system disorders, such as human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)

These are just a few examples of the many disabling conditions that could qualify for SSD benefits. If you cannot work because of a medical condition, you should consult with our New Jersey SSD lawyers even if you do not see your condition listed.

When Should You Apply for SSD?

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The SSA recommends beginning your application for SSDI or SSI benefits as soon as you learn that you are disabled. The application process can be time-consuming, and the SSA can take three to five months or more to review the application once it is submitted. It could take even longer to process if your application lacks critical evidence or contains errors.

Then, assuming the SSA approves your application, you typically need to wait an additional five months before receiving disability benefits. You should receive your first benefit payment in the sixth full month after the onset of your disability. If you are disabled due to amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), however, you may be able to forgo this waiting period if your benefits are approved on or after July 23, 2020.

Information Needed to Apply for Social Security Disability Benefits

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One of the best ways to expedite your application for SSDI or SSI benefits is to ensure the SSA receives all the information it needs. Be prepared to supply the following types of information when you apply:

  • Your Social Security number
  • Your birth certificate
  • The names and contact details of the medical providers you have seen
  • The dates of any visits you had with medical providers
  • The names and dosage details of any prescription drugs you take
  • Any medical records you already possess from providers you have seen
  • Laboratory, diagnostic, and test results related to your disability
  • A summary of your work history, including where you worked and the types of occupational duties you had
  • A copy of your most recent W-2 Form or last year’s federal tax return

How to Apply for SSD Benefits

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In addition to supplying essential work and medical records when you apply, you must complete and submit various forms. Some forms collect information about your condition and work abilities, while others are authorization forms granting the SSA permission to access your medical records.

Once you have gathered as much information as possible, there are three primary ways to initiate your SSDI application:

  • Apply online through the SSA application portal
  • Call the SSA toll-free at 1-800-772-1213 to apply over the phone
  • Call a local Social Security office to schedule an in-person appointment

Remember that you have the right to work with a disability attorney any time you apply for benefits or interact with the SSA.

How Long Does It Take to Get an SSD Application Decision?

couple filing for social security disability

In most cases, it takes three to five months to get an application decision from the SSA. If you provide the SSA with all the necessary information to make a determination, you may hear back quickly. However, the timeline may be longer if the SSA needs more details.

The SSA will send you a letter once it makes its decision. If your application is approved, the letter will describe the value and effective date of your disability benefits. If your application is denied, the letter will explain the reason for the denial and how you can appeal the denial if you choose to.

Appealing a Denied SSD Application

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If you disagree with any aspect of the SSA’s determination, you have the right to request an appeal. You typically have 60 days from the date when you receive notice of the decision to request an appeal. The four primary levels of appeal include:

  • Reconsideration – A full claim review conducted by an individual who was not involved in the original determination
  • ALJ hearing – A hearing with an administrative law judge (ALJ) who was not involved in the original determination or reconsideration
  • Council review – A formal review by the Social Security Appeals Council, which may deny your request for review if it chooses
  • Federal court – The final level of the appeals process, filing a civil lawsuit in a federal district court seeking a ruling from a federal judge

Calculating Your Potential SSD Benefits

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The dollar value of your monthly SSDI disability payments is based on your average income during your working years. The severity of your disability is not a factor in calculating your benefits. Additionally, your SSDI disability benefits cannot be denied or reduced because you have a lot of assets or unearned income, unlike SSI benefits, which are means-based.

However, keep in mind that your benefit payments may be reduced if you receive disability payments from other sources. Private pensions and insurance benefits should not affect your SSDI benefits, but payments from public sources like workers’ compensation may reduce your monthly payments. If you qualify for benefits from multiple public sources, you should speak with an attorney about your situation.

Can You Work While Receiving SSD Benefits?

Yes, you can continue to work while you collect SSDI benefits. However, if you have not reached retirement age, your benefits may be reduced if you earn more than a certain amount each month. Fortunately, any pre-retirement reduction in benefits will only serve to increase your benefits payments when you reach full retirement age.

The amount you can earn without having your SSDI benefits reduced varies depending on your age and monthly benefit amount. Whatever you do, always notify the SSA immediately if you do accept a job or become self-employed.

Do You Qualify for a ‘Compassionate Allowance’ from SSD?

The Compassionate Allowances (CAL) program aims to reduce wait times for SSDI applicants with severe disabilities. CALs give the SSA a swift method for identifying medical conditions that should automatically qualify for benefits. Examples of these conditions include:

  • Certain aggressive cancers
  • Adult brain disorders
  • Rare pediatric disorders

If you believe your condition should be included in the CAL database, you can submit the condition’s name for consideration through the SSA’s website.

Talk to a New Jersey SSD Lawyer from Pellettieri Rabstein & Altman

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The knowledgeable New Jersey disability attorneys of Pellettieri Rabstein & Altman can help you navigate the SSDI application process and demand the disability benefits you deserve. Contact us today to talk to our New Jersey SSD lawyers in a free initial case evaluation.


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