If someone is considering pursuing social security disability, it is possible that he or she has not even considered hiring an attorney to help. While an attorney is certainly not required, it is helpful to have legal representation.
However, the question arises as to when someone should hire an attorney. Should this be done at the start of the process or after a denial is issued? We have asked attorney, Alaina Sullivan, and here is what she had to say:
Why Hire an Attorney
It is well-known that the chances of a disability case being successful drastically increase when an attorney is involved. Many people do handle the social security process on their own, and sometimes, these individuals are successful in their claims.
However, statistics have steadily shown that the SSA is more likely to approve someone who has retained legal counsel than someone who has not.
An attorney who has experience in working with the SSA knows how best to present a case before the agency, know what works and what does not, and knows how to frame the situation in the best possible way for his or her client.
If an attorney is hired at the start of the application process, he or she can provide advice on what the client’s “alleged onset date” of disability would be and can argue that the client’s physical or emotional conditions meet one of the listed impairments that are provided by the SSA.
The attorney will be able to procure the evidence that will best prove that these conditions are properly met.
If the client retains the attorney at the hearing or reconsideration level, which normally are the first and second level of appeals, he or she can prepare the case, collect the proper evidence and submit it to the court, as well as obtain medical opinions from medical professionals and prepare a brief to submit to the Administrative Law Judge (ALJ).
Attorneys are well-versed in evidence practices and in preparing a case for trial to ensure that the client receives the best possible resolution. They are also able to get testimony for their clients and to cross-examine any experts who can attest to the client’s inability to work.
When Should the Lawyer Be Contacted?
Ideally, the sooner an attorney can be contacted, the better. Most attorneys will meet with potential clients for a free consultation to at least provide advice on that person’s case. At this consultation, an attorney can evaluate just how strong the client’s case is.
If an attorney can be retained to prepare the initial application, the client could possibly avoid a great deal of errors before they are even made. Even if the client does not retain an attorney for the initial application, he or she should most definitely consider hiring the attorney upon the initial denial.
Once a denial is received, the attorney can help prepare the appeal properly and submit the request as soon as possible. The attorney can also help walk the case through the system and can possibly send the judge a request for what is known as an “on-the-record” decision, which can mean that the client could possibly receive an approval for benefits without a formal hearing.
This is not to say that hiring an attorney will result in an immediate approval of the client’s request. No guarantee could ever be given. While an attorney could easily cause a case to move along quicker than if the client did not have an attorney, the case can still take months if not years to resolve itself, even with the help of an attorney.
When to Wait on Calling an Attorney
If a client has already submitted the initial application to the SSA and is waiting on a response from this application, hiring an attorney at this point could possibly be a waste. At that point in time, the attorney is not going to be able to move things along any quicker than needed.
It would be wise to wait for a response from the SSA on the initial application before proceeding. Once the client gets a response, and if the response is an initial denial, it is recommended that he or she hire an attorney to handle the matter further.
Contact an Attorney Today
If you are considering filing for social security and have questions about what is involved, 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.