If you are no longer able to work due to severe, medically-documented physical or mental conditions, you may be thinking about filing a claim for Title II Social Security Disability benefits. You need to be prepared for a long, slow process. It can easily take three years from start to finish.
First of all, you generally do not file your claim until after you have stopped working full time and you are “disabled.” Typically you would try to start out collecting state temporary disability insurance to cover you during the initial five-month waiting period. You then file your claim on-line through the www.ssa.gov website. You submit medical records and the initial process can take three months.
If the claim is denied — which is likely — you must file for Reconsideration on-line within 60 days. The case will be reviewed by different people, and you may be sent for medical exams. This process will typically take 3 to 5 months.
If the claim is still denied — which is likely — you must file on-line your Request for Hearing with a federal Administrative Law Judge. New Jersey has three hearing offices, called ODAR – Office of Disability Adjudication and Review. They are in Jersey City, Newark and South Jersey. You will then be waiting well over a year for a hearing. After the hearing, it can take several months before you receive the ALJ’s decision. This entire process at the ODAR is called “processing time.” In its November issue of the NOSSCR Social Security Forum, the National Organization of Social Security Claims Representatives (NOSSCR) posted the National Ranking Report by average processing time for October, 2014 (information was provided to them by the Social Security Administration). The Newark office ranked 109 out of 163, with an average processing time of 463 days. The South Jersey office ranked141, with an average processing time of 508 days. What does this mean for you?
You may become desperate and try to find some work. Keep in mind that the critical issue in most SSD cases is whether there is some kind of work “generally available in the national economy” that someone with your limitations & conditions is theoretically capable of performing. So if you return to work during this time period, even out of sheer economic necessity, working will have an impact on the credibility of your case. It may or may not be “fatal” to the claim.
As attorneys we are prepared to collect the evidence and the defenses which might help your claim even if you attempt to work while the case is pending. Talk to us if you are unrepresented.
call for appointment… 732-382-6070