As is the case with any government process, professional help can make the critical difference between success and failure. A lawyer familiar with the Social Security benefits process can protect you from making certain common errors that harm your chances of approval.
For example, if you are disabled and unable to work, it is critical that you pursue a claim for Social Security disability, or ssi based on disability, and get it filed immediately. This is because disability claims often take a very long time to process. It is the exception that gets processed quickly, the first time around. A knowledgeable Social Security disability lawyer will help you avoid hardships created by filing too late. Many unknowing claimants experience unnecessary difficulties simply because they could not adapt to the long time frames involved. Your Social Security disability lawyer will make sure you file early.
If you have a physical illness or mental condition that is expected to prevent you from working for at least a year or that will result in your death, you may be eligible for social security disability benefits. If you do not present a strong case, the lengthy application process may very likely be futile. Even if you meet all the requirements for social security disability benefits, you may be rejected simply because you did not file properly. The fact is about 70% of initial social security disability claims get rejected which is why we recommend that you find a competent social security disability lawyer.
Look for a social security disability lawyer who is experienced in handling all types of disability cases. You obviously want a lawyer who is knowledgeable about the social security system and understands what it takes to win social security disability benefits for their client. The fact is, if you're applying for social security disability benefits, you are already dealing with enough issues and taking on filing a Social Security disability claim may just be too overwhelming. A social security disability lawyer will essentially do everything for you as they guide and advise you every step of the way.
Below is a condensed description of what to expect as you seek Social Security disability benefits. With a social security disability lawyer, you will not be alone during this process
When you decide to pursue getting benefits you need to fill out the initial application. This can be done by phone, in person, or online. You must fill out an application and acquire medical records. A good social security disability lawyer will develop your claim based upon your work history, age, impairments, and how you reached the point of being unable to work. They will also assist in obtaining the medical evidence necessary to support your claim.
The finished application is then sent to Disability Determination Services (DDS). This is where your initial claim will be reviewed, not at your local Social Security Administration office. Again about 60 to 70% of these initial claims are rejected. If your claim is rejected, your social security disability lawyer will help with the appeal.
You will have 60 days to request having your file reviewed again. This is called Reconsideration. Your social security disability lawyer will handle this request for you. During "Reconsideration" your claim is reviewed again by the Disability Determination Services (DDS). Unfortunately, the chances of a successful review are very slim. At this point many folks just give up. Don't!
You have 60 days to request a hearing. If at this point you still don't have a social security disability lawyer, we strongly recommended that you have one for this hearing. Most claims are won at an administrative hearing,
The hearing will have an Administrative Law Judge who will decide whether or not you will be awarded benefits. The wait time to get this hearing may vary greatly, but it may take over a year to finally have a hearing scheduled. It would be a shame to not be fully prepared, and going to this hearing without a social security disability lawyer would greatly reduce your chances of successfully winning.
A social security disability lawyer will prepare your whole case and prep you before the hearing where the judge will ask you a number of questions. Using an experienced social security disability lawyer who is familiar with the presiding judge is to your advantage because your lawyer can prepare you for the questions that your specific judge is most likely to ask. One thing that many people don't realize is that the files the judge now has will be outdated since a number of months have passed from the initial application. When you request a hearing your file is transferred to the Office of Hearings without any updated information. If you are represented by a social security disability lawyer, he/she will be sure to supply all updated records, as well as get written supporting statements from your healthcare providers to be presented at the time of your hearing.
If you have just hired a social security disability attorney at this stage, he/she will look over your file, see why you have been declined in the previous stages, and then create a strategy that presents your story in the most compelling way. Those folks who choose not to have legal representation still have the opportunity to look over their file, but may not understand most of it or know how to best present their case before the Administrative Law Judge.
There are still legal options available if your application is again declined. If your social security disability lawyer feels that there was some error on the judge's part he/she may appeal to the Appeals Council. If the appeal is accepted, the council will review your claim and either overturn the decision or return it to the original judge. If denied you may still appeal to Federal Court in which case your social security disability lawyer will file a petition.
As you can see from this description of the process for filing and appealing for social security disability benefits, there are many situations along the way where having expert legal advice would be to your benefit.
There really are no disadvantages to hiring a competent social security disability lawyer. A lawyer will be motivated in helping you since he/she only charges if you win and receive benefits. Therefore, you should not dismiss the idea of hiring a social security disability lawyer for financial reasons.
For many people the best advice is to seek representation from the start of the process. Without the proper guidance you can unknowingly be hurting your case. A social security disability attorney will take care of everything for you as far as paperwork, filing, research, and personal prepping for a hearing before a judge. In addition your lawyer will make sure that you meet all the deadlines and check to make sure your files are received. Your social security disability attorney is your guide making the whole social security disability process much simpler for you. And once your claim is accepted, your lawyer will make sure you receive the proper payment from the Social Security Administration.