Should I Hire an Attorney after a Denial?

Receiving a denial of someone’s social security claim can be disheartening and frustrating. Stories circulate all the time about how long appeals can take once a social security claim is denied.

No one wants to see their livelihood caught up in red tape for months and even years, and it is for this reason that it is important that, as soon as a denial is received, the client contact an attorney to help him or her further.

We have asked attorney, Alaina Sullivan, and here is what she had to say:

What Happens after a Denial?

Denials are not always surprising. Even if the client submitted the best application possible, it very possible that this first request will result in a denial from the Social Security Administration (SSA). However, if the client’s first application failed, a request for reconsideration will likely face the same fate.

Hiring an attorney upon the first denial can help change those odds, especially if the denial was made over something as simple as an omission on the initial application. Once that first denial occurs, an attorney can help submit a reconsideration appeal.

If that reconsideration appeal is also denied, the second appeal will go before a federal administrative judge (ALJ) at a disability hearing. Having an attorney represent the client at this point would be wise, as most individuals are not well-versed in evidentiary practices.

ALJs are more likely to award disability benefits if the claimants before them are represented by legal counsel. Approximately 40 percent of unrepresented claimants who handle SSI or SSDI appeals before ALJs win their cases. These odds are improved once an attorney is hired to handle the matter.

Know the Deadlines

Legal cases all come with their own set of deadlines. While the online filing option now makes the process easier for handling deadlines in a prompt manner, most non-legal individuals are not aware of what these deadlines are.

The SSA gives claimants 60 days from the date a denial is received, plus five days to allow for mailing, for the appeal to get to the SSA. Because of this deadline, this means time is of the essence and procrastination is not recommended.

Keep in mind that the 60 days means the reconsideration has to be at the office by that time and not in the mail and postmarked. An attorney will be aware of this deadline and will ensure that everything is submitted in a prompt and timely manner.

Should I Hire an Attorney after a Denial?

Representation at the Disability Hearing

After two denials are received, the case will then need to go through a reconsideration hearing. If the client has not obtained an attorney at this point, it is highly recommended that one be retained at this point.

Once the attorney has been hired, if the request for the hearing has already been submitted, the client will need to notify the SSA on form SSA-1696 that an attorney has been retained.

How Much Will the Attorney Cost?

One of the main reasons why clients hold off on hiring a Social Security Disability attorney is the cost. Attorneys are expensive, and no one wants to pay for legal fees if at all possible. Odds are, if the individual is looking to receive disability benefits, that person does not have a lot of money on hand.

However, hiring an attorney to handle a social security appeal is affordable. Attorneys are paid on a contingent fee basis meaning they only receive payment if the client’s case is successful.

Social Security Disability attorneys are paid up to 25 percent of what the client will receive in Social Security Disability back payments, and that amount must be capped at $6,000. The attorney is paid directly through the SSA and not from the client, and this money is taken from the first check the client will receive from back pay due to him or her.

That way the client never has to fully realize the financial ramifications of the attorney’s payment and does not have to personally pay the client separately for the bulk of the legal representation. However, the client may have to pay for costs incurred as a result of paying for medical expert witnesses or records for the appeal, which can be relatively minimal.

Contact an Attorney Today

If your social security claim has been denied, and you have questions about how to proceed, it is recommended that you contact a social security attorney to discuss your options.

An attorney can listen to the facts of the case and can best advise you on how to proceed. Contact an attorney experienced in social security disability to schedule a consultation today.

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