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New Jersey Social Security Disability Law Blog

What if my Social Security disability is up for review?

When a New Jersey resident is approved for Social Security disability benefits for injury, illness or condition, it will inevitably be a relief. The time from the application to the decision can be worrisome and those who are concerned about what they will do if they are deemed not to have met the federal requirements and are subjected to a denied claim can be fraught with fear. After the approval, however, it is imperative to remember that the Social Security Administration will conduct periodic reviews of the case. Understanding this process is key.

For those who have not experienced an improvement in their health, the SSD benefits will continue. With the review, the claimant can show that the disability and its accompanying issues are still in place and the benefits should continue. The evidence from the case will again be evaluated. For those who are suffering from more than one illness or condition, the totality will be assessed rather than the problems individually. The review takes place at various intervals and depends on the condition and its severity.

How is inflammatory bowel disease evaluated for disability?

People in New Jersey who are suffering from an illness that makes it difficult if not impossible for them to function normally will often want to apply for Social Security disability benefits for illness. A key factor in whether they will be approved for disability or not is how the Social Security Administration evaluates their medical issues. When seeking these benefits, the evaluation is critical to a finding of disabled and the approval for benefits. Therefore, it is important to understand what the criteria is for the specific illness.

Inflammatory bowel disease is a common illness. It can be debilitating with major medical expenses and frequent flare ups making it hard to work. When the SSA evaluates IBD, the applicant should remember that it can include ulcerative colitis and Crohn's disease, but it is not limited to these. When these illnesses are assessed, the medical findings can be similar as can be the treatment. IBD can go into remission and exacerbate. It is rare that a person is "cured" from Crohn's disease and can last throughout the person's life. Ulcerative colitis, however, is limited to the colon and can be cured if there is a full colectomy.

Will I need a consultative exam for Social Security disability?

When people in Newark and throughout New Jersey are seeking Social Security disability benefits for injury or illness, they might not realize that every case is different and people might be asked for a variety of evidence as part of meeting the benefits' requirements to be approved. Not every case is clear based on the evidence as it is initially presented. The Social Security Administration might want the applicant to have a consultative examination before the case can be decided upon. This is not necessarily something for the applicant to be worried about, but it is good to be aware of its details.

The SSA can ask for a consultative examination for many reasons. They include the following: if more evidence is needed because the evidence they have is not sufficient for a determination to be made; to gather more details as to the applicant's impairments; to gather information that is specialized or technical; to account for differences in the medical findings that are in the evidence the SSA has; and to resolve an issue regarding the applicant's substantial gainful activity.

OCD makes it hard for many to live a normal life

Many people here in New Jersey and elsewhere joke about suffering from obsessive-compulsive disorder, but for many more people, it is no joke. Suffering from OCD can make it difficult for someone to live a normal life.

Make no mistake; a true case of OCD is a mental illness. An individual may know what he or she is doing but cannot stop or help it. If you suffer from this illness, your life probably feels out of control. The thought of going to work may cause you anxiety because of the obsessive thoughts and compulsive behaviors that you must deal with just to leave your home.

What if I believe my denied claim was due to unfair treatment?

When applying for Social Security disability benefits for injury, illness or mental condition, the applicant will enter the process believing that their case will be decided on its merits, and other factors will not be considered in a negative light. However, there might be a belief on the part of New Jersey residents who have had a denied claim that the Administrative Law Judge treated him or her in an unfair way that impacted the decision. Since the Social Security Administration's goal is to decide on whether the applicant meets the benefits' requirements or not, it is important to inform them when there is a perception of unfair treatment.

There should not be different treatment for an applicant due to their age, what disability they claim to have, their race, their financial status or due to any other reason. Should there be a belief that the ALJ treated an applicant unfairly, the SSA must be informed. The complaint should be filed and received by the SSA within six months of the date the action occurred or the date at which the applicant discovered the ALJ was treating them unfairly. An investigation can be conducted simultaneous to the application moving forward.

How is my Social Security disability impacted if I try to work?

New Jersey residents might be under the misconception that simply getting Social Security disability benefits means that they should not even try to get back to work for fear of no longer being eligible for benefits. However, if a person meets the federal requirements to be approved for SSD benefits, they can also try to see if they are capable of working while still being able to maintain or restart their benefits if they fail. Understanding the rules for working while disabled includes understanding what incentives the Social Security Administration offers for those who are receiving SSD benefits but want to try to work.

The SSA offers several benefits for SSD recipients who try to work. With the trial work period, the person has nine months to try to work. In that timeframe, the person will get their full SSD benefits no matter how much he or she earns working, as long as he or she reports the work to the SSA and is still disabled. For 2018, the trial work month is a month in which the person earns more than $850. For a self-employed person, working more than 80 hours a week and earning more than $850 after expenses constitutes a trial work month. The nine months are to be used within a 60-month period. For extended period of eligibility, the person can work for 36 months and get benefits in a month where there are not substantial earnings. For 2018, "substantial" is considered earnings beyond $1,180.

Can I get SSDI benefits for brain injury?

For New Jersey residents who have suffered a traumatic brain injury (TBI), the damage can go beyond the brain and impact many different areas of the body, hindering their ability to work. With the variety of problems that accompany a brain injury along with the medical expenses, the inability to work should be accounted for by applying for Social Security disability benefits for injury. With TBI, knowing how the Social Security Administration evaluates it and what criteria must be met to be granted benefits is integral to a case.

A TBI occurs when there is brain damage either from penetration by an object going into the skull and contacting brain tissue, an external impact with closed head injury, or from a skull fracture. To make its decision, the SSA will need to receive evidence from a minimum of three months after the incident to determine if there is disorganization of motor function or to gauge how much the injury has affected mental and physical functioning. For some, the determination can be made within three months. Should that not be the case, then it will be deferred until evidence is available a minimum of three months after. The deferment can be extended to at least six months until it is possible for the SSA to decide.

What is the five-step process for Social Security disability?

For many New Jersey residents who have an injury, illness or condition and believe they meet the requirements to receive Social Security disability benefits, the entire process can seem a bit overwhelming. From filling out the application, to the hearing, to the possibility that they might be confronted with a denied claim, it can be a worrisome time. However, this should not dissuade a person who is unable to work and is dealing with medical expenses and other issues.

The Social Security Administration has a five-step process it uses when determining whether an applicant is disabled or not. First, the SSA will ask if the applicant is working. Working while applying is not exclusionary. The earnings are paramount. If the person earns more than a certain amount per month, he or she will generally not be considered disabled. This amount varies year-to-year. For those not working or whose earnings are below the cutoff point, the next step will be the medical condition and its severity.

What evidence from school or work is used for mental disability?

People in New Jersey who are experiencing mental issues and are seeking Social Security disability benefits should be aware of the evidence that is needed for the Social Security Administration to make its decision. The SSA will seek that evidence from various sources when conducting its evaluation. That will include medical evidence, evidence from people who know the applicant, and evidence from school or work. Regarding school or work, it is important to understand what the SSA will request so all the applicable evidence is provided.

For school, the person could be a past attendee or still be attending. He or he might have gotten or is still getting special education. If the person falls into this category, the SSA will seek information as to how the mental illness is affecting the person's functional ability. This can include the progress from therapy, evaluation reports, information coming from teachers as to how the person is able to function in the classroom, information about how the person might need certain accommodations or special services to function and anything else that might be relevant.

Do you suffer from post-sepsis syndrome?

Whether you suffered from a serious illness, underwent a surgical procedure or suffered severe injuries, your time in the hospital compromised your immune system. This led to you contracting an infection of some sort that turned into sepsis.

After undergoing aggressive treatment for sepsis and receiving a (relatively) clean bill of health by your doctors, you went home. You probably hoped to put the whole ordeal behind you and get on with your life. Unfortunately, your body doesn't seem to want to cooperate.

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