Regulations regarding social security disability benefits vary across states. Let’s take a look at the process in New Jersey to help you understand how the process works in the Garden State.
The application process for standard social security disability is the same across all states but each state process the applications, handles appeals, and provides other services differently.
If an application is denied, you can appeal the decision within 60 days of receipt of the denial letter. New Jersey has four levels to the appeals process. The four levels include reconsideration, a disability hearing, an appeals council review, and a federal court review.
The reconsideration by Disability Determination Services (DDS) is often denied but is a necessary step to scheduling a hearing. The hearing takes place in front of an administrative law judge (ALJ). Keep in mind that most reconsiderations are denied. The next step to request a hearing before the ALJ, where the judge takes a fresh look at the claim and reviews any new medical evidence submitted. The judge will then make a decision at the hearing. You have the best opportunity to be awarded disability benefits at the hearing where your case is personally reviewed with you present. However, it can take a long time to lock down a hearing date.
If the ALJ denies your benefits, you have the option to file an appeal with the Appeals Council. This council includes over 50 Administrative Appeals Judges and over 50 Appeals Officers who handle reviews for the whole country. If your appeal reaches this level, the Administrative Appeals Judge will determine if the ALJ made any mistakes in the decision at your hearing.
Finally, if the Appeals Council denies your claim, you can file an appeal with the Federal Court within 60 days of the decision. The complaint will include a brief statement of facts and allegations that explain your case.