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The process of applying for New Jersey Social Security disability

It is widely known that the federal government's Social Security Administration provides financial benefits for people with an inability to work due to a disability. For many people, Social Security disability benefits are critical to enable them to pay their bills and meet their day to day needs. In order to have the best chance of having an application for benefits approved, it is helpful to understand the determination process.

There are two general agencies/offices generally responsible for handing Social Security disability claims. Local field offices under the Social Security Administration are the offices that receive the initial applications for benefits. People seeking disability benefits can file applications by phone or mail, online, or in person at the local office. The application requests both personal and financial information, as well as medical information to determine eligibility.

As the office that first comes in contact with an application for benefits, the field offices conduct the first step of eligibility verification that relates to age, marital status, employment and other information concerning Social Security coverage. After a field office reviews an application and determines that the applicant has met the initial, non-medical, eligibility requirements, the application is forwarded to a state agency called the Disability Determination Services (DDSs).

DDSs review a person's application and the medical evidence provided by the applicant to decide whether or not the person is legally classified as disabled or blind. DDSs usually begin with an analysis of the medical information and sources provided by the applicant, but if that information is insufficient, the DDSs can collect other relevant evidence from an examination it arranges. If an applicant is found to be eligible at both the first and second stages, the DDSs will send the case back to a field office where benefits are calculated and distributed. Denied applications may be appealed.

Source: SSA.gov, "Disability Determination Process," accessed on March 3, 2015

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