The Law Offices of Sheryl Gandel Mazur
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New Jersey Social Security Disability Law Blog

Tests assessing for intellectual function when seeking disability

Families who have a loved one with an intellectual disorder such as mental retardation will understand the difficulties that inevitably arise. For residents of Newark and throughout New Jersey, receiving Social Security disability benefits can be invaluable to help that person. When applying for disability benefits, however, it is important to understand how the Disability Determination Services and the Social Security Administration will document and evaluate the intellectual disorder and its severity. This is critical when filing for disability benefits as a failure to provide the necessary information can lead to the claim being denied even if the benefits are warranted.

For intellectual disorder, there are three elements: general intellectual functioning that is significantly sub-average; current adaptive functioning with significant deficits; and the disorder having manifested before the person turned 22. The person's intellectual functioning hinges on their ability to reason, learn, plan, solve problems and to handle other basic cognitive necessities. The inability to meet these requirements will be determined by standardized intelligence testing. The person's intelligence quotient (IQ) will be used to make these determinations.

Social Security disability and expedited reinstatement

New Jersey residents who are approved for Social Security disability benefits will often be concerned over what happens if the benefits stop after they have earned a certain amount of money. For these claimants, there can be an inherent fear as to what they will do if they find themselves unable to work and have also seen their SSD benefits stopped because of earnings. Fortunately, there are alternatives.

With expedited reinstatement, those in this situation can have their benefits restart quickly. Understanding when a claimant can get expedited reinstatement is key to receiving it. When a person's benefits stopped due to earnings from work, expedited reinstatement can be requested without needing to file a new application. Once the Social Security Administration decides if the benefits should restart, the person can get benefits temporarily for as long as six months.

What is the Social Security disability re-entitlement period?

There are many aspects of the process for which New Jersey residents get Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits for injury or illness that might be confusing. Some will impact their situation as the benefits' requirements make it necessary that certain factors be considered when they are getting or retaining their SSD benefits. For example, if a person who is getting SSD tries to get back to work, there is something called the re-entitlement period. Those who have been unable to work and needed medical care because of their injuries or illness and try to get back on the job should know about this rule.

There is an extra nine months for which the person can take part in trial work to see if they can handle the rigors of employment and had a disabling impairment. When a person works while they are on the re-entitlement period, the Social Security Administration (SSA) might determine that the person is no longer disabled because they have reached the level of substantial gainful activity (SGA). Then the SSD benefits will stop. If, however, the SSA determines that after the month in which the disability stopped and the person was unable to continue working because of their condition, the benefits can restart and there does not need to be a new application.

Am I suffering from panic attacks and can I get SSD benefits?

Some illnesses are not visible to the naked eye and are complicated even for medical professionals to accurately diagnose. That, however, does not reduce their seriousness, nor does it change that the person who is suffering from the issue will have problems with everyday function including being able to hold a job. For New Jersey residents who are suffering from a mental disorder, it can negatively impact them in multiple ways.

Often, they are not aware of how serious the problem is or that it is diagnosable. One such issue is when a person is having panic attacks. Knowing what a panic attack is and its complications is critical when filing for disability benefits. If a person is suffering for fear without apparent reason, they might be suffering from a panic attack. People who are having panic attacks frequently believe they are suffering from a heart attack or some other medical condition and are not aware of what it is. Those who have these symptoms on a regular basis could have panic disorder.

Did you suffer third degree burns or worse in an accident?

When you woke up on the morning it happened, you could never have known that you would end the day in the hospital suffering from third, fourth or fifth degree burns, but that is what happened. Your doctors told you that your recovery would take a significant amount of time.

The internal damage associated with serious burns takes much longer to heal than the surface wound takes. In fact, if you suffer fourth or fifth degree burns, the skin may not grow back. Patients often need inpatient care of at least 11 days for these serious burns, which means they go much further than skin deep, possibly down to the bone. The more extensive the damage, the longer you will remain hospitalized.

How obsessive compulsive disorder sufferers can get benefits

There are many issues for which a New Jersey resident can be approved for Social Security disability for mental conditions. Many are difficult to notice and understand, even for the person who is suffering from this form of mental illness. However, it is possible to get disability for these conditions if the applicant goes through the process correctly, provides the necessary evidence and has legal assistance. One mental disorder that is prevalent - and many do not even know they have it - is obsessive compulsive disorder or OCD.

When assessing OCD, it is important to understand that it is a form of anxiety. Those who are suffering from OCD have a variety of symptoms including thoughts that repeat again and again, obsessions on certain subjects, or continually do the same actions over and over. One example of OCD is to repeatedly touch objects as a ritual for fear that something bad will happen if it is not done. Others are continually washing one's hands, checking the oven to make sure it is off, twitching, having spasms and tics.

When will the Appeals Council review after a denied claim?

When a New Jersey resident applies for Social Security disability benefits for injury, illness or a condition and the application is denied, there are four levels of appeal that can be attempted. After reconsideration and a hearing before an administrative law judge (ALJ), there is the Appeals Council followed by a lawsuit in federal court. The Appeals Council is different in that it is not obligated by law to examine a case and consider whether the decision should be changed or not. The Appeals Council will consider every case, but will deny the review if it finds that the previous decisions were just. Knowing which cases the Appeals Court will review is important.

A case will be reviewed by the Appeals Court if: the ALJ has abused his or her discretion; an error of law was made; the substantial evidence does not support the action, findings or conclusions the ALJ made; there is a policy or procedural factor that can impact the public interest; or if there is new evidence that relates to the time at which or prior to when the decision was made and the outcome would likely have been changed with the evidence.

How can I recognize if I have bipolar disorder?

There was once a stigma attached to people who had mental illness, but luckily, that is largely no longer the case. People who are suffering from a mental disorder can seek treatment without fear of ramifications. For New Jersey residents who are suffering from an issue that is of sufficient severity that it negatively affects their ability to work, they can seek Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits. One mental issue that is increasingly well-known is bipolar disorder. For those who believe they exhibit the symptoms of bipolar disorder, it is imperative to have legal advice when considering an application for SSD benefits.

For those suffering from bipolar, there are changes in their mood on an episodic basis. Their sleep habits can be problematic, they will have fluctuating energy levels, their behavior will be unusual and their thoughts can be hectic. Some have a combination of episodes in which they are depressed one moment and manic the next. These can last for a short time-period or a longer time-period. They can range in intensity and effect the person's functioning in myriad ways.

Does Sjogren's syndrome qualify for disability?

You may have noticed changes in your body when you were about 40 but thought it was just part of growing older. Your mouth was always dry no matter how much water you drank. Your eyes felt like sandpaper despite the constant use of eyedrops. When you mentioned these symptoms to your doctor and dentist, they may have run some blood tests, suggested mouthwash or prescribed more powerful eye lubricant.

When more symptoms appeared and began interfering with your daily life, you persisted with your doctor. From that point, you may have visited dozens of specialists and undergone scores of tests to receive the diagnosis of Sjogren's Syndrome. Knowing your condition has a name may have been a comfort, but little else about the syndrome that is comforting, especially if it prevents you from earning a living.

Social Security Disability and disorganization of motor function

When New Jersey residents are suffering from a neurological disorder, it can be exceedingly problematic for them to work and function normally. This makes it necessary to consider whether they meet the benefits' requirements to get Social Security Disability (SSD). There are several factors that must be considered when filing for benefits including whether they meet the Social Security Administration's (SSA) criteria under disorganization of motor function and if they have extreme limitation. For these issues and more when seeking SSD benefits, having legal help is imperative.

The SSA will assess disorganization of motor function meaning interference in the movement of two extremities. This can be the upper and lower extremities with hands, fingers, wrists, arms, shoulders, legs, feet and more. It can be in any combination of extremities provided there are at least two. The person must be limited in his or her ability to stand when seated; or to balance when walking or standing; or to use the upper extremities.

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