Do I Need a Lawyer to Apply for Social Security Disability?
There is an old adage that states that a man who represents himself in court has a fool for a client. Nevertheless, statics from Social Security show that millions of well–intentioned Americans do just that and proceed with their disability application without the assistance from an attorney.
Because of the critical dates and complicated laws involved when applying for Social Security disability benefits, many claimants end up getting denied by missing deadlines and not understanding the regulations. This resets the clock and prolongs the process to getting approved for Social Security Disability benefits. If you do not have an attorney representing your case, you may waste years of time, effort and money trying to represent yourself. In the end, you may have to turn to the services of an experienced attorney when you are forced to file a second– or sometimes even third or fourth claim.
Because of the difficulties that lie ahead, it is in your best interest to hire an experienced Social Security Disability attorney to assist you with your disability application.
How will my Disability Attorney Help?
While no attorney can guarantee that you will receive the disability benefits you are applying for, statistics show that Social Security is more likely to approve an applicant who’s represented by legal counsel than one who isn’t.
From the initial application to the hearing level and onto federal court appeals, disability attorneys understand how to present a case in the light most favorable to their clients. In this regard, a disability attorney will be able to tailor a strategy specific to the facts of each individual client giving them the best chance of being approved.
The Initial Application and Appeals Process
- Initial Application and Reconsideration
- On the initial application and reconsideration levels, your lawyer can offer advice on your “alleged onset date” of disability, evaluate your records to determine whether your medical conditions can be approved by meeting a listing impairments, and help you focus on the facts and evidence that will be most persuasive to Social Security.
- Administrative Hearing
- At the Administrative hearing, your lawyer and his support staff will collect and submit relevant educational, employment, medical evidence, and medical opinions from your doctors to build up support for your case. With this evidence and understanding of the law, your attorney can draft a detailed prehearing brief to submit to the Administrative Law Judge (ALJ). In some situations your attorney can even send the ALJ a request for an “on-the-record” (OTR) decision, which means that you could be approved for benefits without a hearing. However, in most cases you will need to attend the hearing.
- Prior to the hearing, your attorney will cover the relevant evidence with you to ensure you are prepared when testifying at the hearing. Because most disability attorneys work with the same ALJs for many different clients, it can be helpful to have an experienced disability attorney who has a history with your assigned ALJ.
- Along with collecting evidence and preparing you for your hearing, your attorney will also cross-examine vocational experts and medical experts hired by Social Security at the Administrative hearing. These experts assist the ALJ by testifying about how your medical impairments will prevent you from working. Since their testimony will often determine whether your case can be approved or denied, it is vital to be able to rebut their testimony in the event they offer opinions that will hurt your case. Experienced Social Security disability attorneys know how to cross-examine these experts to ensure they elicit helpful testimony.
- Appeals Council and Federal Court Appeals
- In the event your case is denied by the ALJ, your case will go before the Appeal Council and then to federal court where your lawyer can craft sophisticated legal arguments to show that Social Security wrongly denied your case. At both stages, the Appeals Council or the federal court can send your claim back with instructions for the ALJ to reevaluate your case and in some cases even approve your case for benefits.
- Many disability attorneys do not handle Social Security appeals in federal court so it is important to hire a disability attorney experienced in Social Security federal court litigation when deciding who to hire.
As you can see, the path to approval can be daunting, but with an experienced Social Security disability attorney by your side, you can rest assured that you will have the best chances of getting your SSDI/SSI claim approved.
How Do I Pay for a Disability Lawyer?
Unlike many attorneys, Social Security attorneys do not require money up front to work on your Social Security disability claim. Instead, under most circumstances, they only get paid a fee if your case is approved.
When you decide to hire a disability attorney, you will sign a fee agreement agreeing to pay up to 25% of your past due benefits or “back pay”. In most cases, the cap for the fee will be the lesser of 25% or a cap of $6,000. However, in some cases, Federal Courts appeals for instance, the cap of $6,000.00 can be removed.
Why Should I Hire WH Law to Help me with my Social Security Disability Application?
WH Law’s attorneys have extensive experience working through the Social Security disability claim process and their knowledge will greatly increase a client’s chances of receiving the benefits they deserve from Social Security.Our attorneys and support staff have helped thousands of claimants with their disability claims from the initial application all the way to the federal courts. Our skilled team knows what it takes to get your case approved and will fight to ensure that your rights our protected.