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A knowledgeable New York Social Security disability lawyer, and former Social Security Administrative Law Judge (ALJ), representing clients throughout the New York City metropolitan area, the Hudson Valley,New Jersey, and Connecticut

I have been dealing with  Social Security disability law for over 30 years. I was privileged to serve as a Social Security administrative law judge for 20 years, hearing and deciding thousands of disability cases of every type.

Since leaving the bench in 1998, I have devoted my practice largely to the representation of  Connecticut, New Jersey,  metropolitan area New York  City and Hudson Valley  claimants seeking Social Security benefits, including Social Security disability and Supplemental Security Income, before the Social Security Administration offices and the United States courts.

By focusing on Social Security disability law, I am able to offer you a combination of specialized knowledge and experience, and a successful strategy to approaching Social Security disability cases. I can explain the Social Security disability process to you, and guide you through the often complex and frustrating Social Security disability application and appeal process.

This 100-page website will introduce you to some of the things that you may want to know about how the Social Security Administration in  the New York City metropolitan area, Hudson Valley, Connecticut, or New Jersey, will look at your claim.

Should I apply for Connecticut,New Jersey, metropolitan New York City, or Hudson Valley Social Security disability benefits?

One of the  first questions  my clients ask me is if they should even apply for Social Security benefits. I tell them that to receive Social Security benefits, you must be found to be “disabled.” Social Security law states that you are disabled only if your physical and/or mental impairments are so severe that you are unable to do your previous work and you cannot, considering your age, education, and work experience, do any other substantial gainful work that exists in the local or national economy.

Determining whether you are disabled requires a detailed analysis, but your ability to work, age, education, and recent jobs are the key factors that affect the disability determination. However, the Social Security Administration’s evaluation process is complex and its determinations can sometimes be illogical.

If your answers match the ones below,Social Security Administration, in New York or Connecticut,  is likely to award you Social Security disability benefits:

  • Are you gainfully employed? NO
  • Do you have a severe impairment? YES
  • Will such impairments last 12 continuous months (or are they expected to last that long) or result in death? YES
  • Do your impairments meet or equal in severity one of Social Security Administration’s listed impairments? If YES, you qualify. If NO …
  • Are you able to perform significant work? NO

For more information, see my video Will you qualify for Social Security disability benefits?

In addition to meeting the definition of disabled, you must be “insured” to receive Social Security disability benefits. To be “insured,” you must have paid Social Security taxes over a long enough period of time and paid such taxes recently enough. After stopping work (and stopping paying Social Security taxes), there will come a time when your insured status will lapse.

If your answers matched the ones above and you have paid Social Security taxes, it is worth beginning the process of applying for disability benefits.

How do I file my initial Connecticut, New Jersey, or New York disability claim?

You can complete your initial Connecticut, New Jersey, or New York disability claim at

However, many  claimants initiate their Social Security disability claims by telephoning a Social Security Administration teleservice center at 1-800-772-1213. If you phone a teleservice center, the staff will make an appointment for you with a Social Security Administration representative from the local office. If you prefer, an appointment can be made to go to your local  Social Security office,  to complete an application in person, though most claimants make a telephone appointment for a Social Security Administration claims representative to call the claimant back at an appointed hour.

During the appointment, you will be asked basic information, which will be entered into a computer application form that will be printed and, if it is a telephone interview, will be mailed to you for signature, along with other forms to be completed and signed.

For suggestions about applying, see Tips for applying.

What should I do if my initial  Social Security disability claim is denied?

Many people mistakenly give up at this point. Claimants need to keep in mind that the Social Security disability process favors appellants over initial applicants. Nationally and here in New York and Connecticut,  two thirds of initial applications are denied while over half of those who appeal are ultimately awarded disability benefits.

The reason for this is that there are some significant differences between your initial application and your hearing at the appeal level. These differences help appellants win disability benefits. One of the most important differences is that at your appeal hearing you have the opportunity to appear before a judge in person and explain your condition in your own words.

For more information about appealing, see Appealing a Denial of Benefits, a free downloadable e-booklet about appealing a denial.

How I can help you as an experienced New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut disability lawyer

Filing for New York  City, Hudson Valley, New Jersey, or Connecticut Social Security disability and/or Supplemental Security Income benefits can be a frustrating and lengthy process. Claimants with representation have a better chance of a successful result, according to the Social Security Administration. With over 20 years judicial experience,   hearing and deciding Social Security disability cases, and then more than 10 years actively  representing disability claimants before the Social Security Administration   and the United States Courts, I  am prepared to provide you with expert guidance and effective advocacy and support.

I represent disability clients in all five boroughs of New York City, throughout the New York metropolitan area, the Hudson Valley, New Jersey, and Connecticut,  I maintain law offices in Lower Manhattan, and in Putnam County, New York, and I travel extensively in NewYork, New Jersey,  and Connecticut  to meet with and represent disability claimants.

I accept clients at all stages. Some of my clients file the initial claim themselves, and then come to me after their claim has been denied. Other clients come to me at the very beginning, and I start helping right at the initial claim filing stage.

I will do many things to help you win Connecticut, New Jersey,  or New York disability benefits, and what I do varies from one client to the next. However, generally I will:

  • Help you navigate through the mounds of Social Security forms, questionnaires, and other paperwork, making certain that your impairments and limitations as you experience them are truthfully and effectively presented;
  • Develop the necessary medical data and opinion for your case;
  • Prepare you to testify at your appeal hearing;
  • Present the best supported and most persuasive arguments at your appeal hearing before an administrative law judge and, if necessary, before the Social Security Appeals Council; and
  • Answer all your questions about the Social Security disability process, and keep you informed of your case’s progress.

I know what a shock it is to find that disease or trauma has caused even the most ordinary activities to be extremely difficult or impossible. I will always make my best efforts to personalize your case – that is, to develop and present your disability claim as to enable its reviewers and adjudicators to realize both the facts and feelings associated with your individual experience of functional loss, and how this experience has related to your vocational incapacity.

How to contact me

If you need help either with your initial application or filing your appeal, or if you have any questions, please call me at (212) 809-1772 or (845) 278-2896. I also invite you to complete the short claim evaluation form to the right, and I will respond promptly. I will personally provide a follow-up consultation and a carefully considered evaluation of your case, without charge.

In addition, if the Social Security Appeals Council has refused to review the denial of your disability claim, I will also advise you on the possible benefits of continuing your appeal to the United States district court. This can result in a court order requiring the payment of disability benefits to you, or a remand requiring further administrative action, and a new chance to obtain a decision in your favor. This can often be accomplished at little or no cost to you.

Herbert Forsmith, Attorney at Law
(212) 809-1772 or (845) 278-2896
E-mail me

New York, New York office:
26 Broadway
17th Floor
New York, New York 10004

Mahopac, New York office:
10 McMahon Place and Route 6
Mahopac, New York 10541

Serving Social Security disability claimants in all five boroughs of New York City and throughout the New York metro area, the Hudson Valley,New Jersey, and Connecticut.

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