Types of Benefits
Two of the largest government programs for those too disabled to work are Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI), both administered by the Social Security Administration (SSA). Only those who meet medical criteria and whose disability is severe enough may qualify for benefits under these programs.
SSDI pays benefits to you and certain members of your family if you are “insured” (you worked long enough and paid Social Security taxes). SSI pays benefits based on financial need and may cover those who are not “insured” (because they haven’t worked long enough and/or haven’t paid enough taxes, which can include those paid in cash “under the table” and children).
As part of applying for benefits for either program, medical information and records need to be collected and organized so SSA can make a determination of whether or not you meet Social Security’s definition of disability. SSA has a Benefits Eligibility Screening Tool to help you find out which programs you may qualify for, if any.
In New Jersey, most Social Security disability claims are initially processed through the New Jersey’s Department of Labor and Workforce Development. Representatives take benefit applications in person, by telephone, by mail or online. The claimant (the person filing the application) is asked for information about impairments, where treatment has been received and other details relevant to the disability.
Normally, evidence of the disability is sought from the claimant’s own healthcare professionals in order to make a decision, but there might also be an independent consultative examination (CE) to obtain additional information. After collection of the evidence, staff makes the initial disability determination.
If the decision is in favor of benefits, the SSA computes the benefit amount and pays benefits. If the claimant was found not qualified for benefits, the file remains in the field office to be used in a possible appeal. The first level of appeals is within SSA, but further appeals can go through the federal court system.