If you have been diagnosed with a medical condition that is hindering your ability to work, you may be wondering about the Social Security Disability application process. Perhaps you have already taken the steps necessary to get the ball rolling. Regardless of where you are in the process, enlisting the help of an Social Security Attorney or Disability Advocate is always a good idea.
What Are the Advantages of Hiring a Disability Lawyer or Advocate?
Anyone who has been through the Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) process will tell you that it is complicated and time-consuming, even for the most intelligent of people. There are many nuances that are difficult to understand.
For example, the majority of disability claims are initially denied, often due to the applicant’s inability to provide sufficient medical evidence. Additionally, there are specific deadlines that must be met throughout the application process. If your claim is denied you only have 60 days to file the appropriate paperwork for an appeal. Unfortunately, the Social Security Administration (SSA) is not very forgiving if you miss an important deadline. Additionally, if you are denied, and you decide to request a disability hearing, you may face wait times of up to two years for a hearing date. As you can see, there is so much that goes into successfully winning a claim.
There are numerous advantages to hiring an Social Security Disability lawyer or advocate. First and foremost, an attorney will serve as your advocate. Bound by professional rules and ethical obligations, your lawyer will handle your case carefully.
Further, working with the SSA can be like speaking another language. While it might be challenging for you to understand all the nuances, your Disability lawyer knows that language well. He or she can help communicate on your behalf, acting as your “translator” so to speak.
Disability lawyers and advocates understand precisely how to present your case to give you the best chances of winning your claim. The key component to any SSDI case is providing adequate medical evidence. In addition to helping you understand what medical information is needed, your attorney can assist you in collecting and presenting the relevant medical documentation.
If your case does need to be appealed at a disability hearing, your lawyer can prepare you for that meeting, helping you to feel at ease and to know exactly what to expect. He or she will identify and prepare appropriate witnesses on your behalf as well.
These are just a few of the many benefits that working with Disability attorney will offer you. While hiring an attorney is always optional, it has been shown to increase your chance for approval.
Why Should I Hire an Attorney or Advocate?
You have probably heard that if you use the services of a disability lawyer or advocate, your odds of a successful disability claim increase greatly. You may be wondering at which point during the claims process you should hire a lawyer - if you should get an attorney before you file your initial claim, or if you should wait to get your first denial notice.
Disability claims are complex and require extensive detail. You can benefit from enlisting someone in the disability claims process, and who knows how the process works and what Disability Determination Services (DDS) is looking for when they review your claim.
While most claims are denied on the first review, the likelihood of having a claim approved after an appeal or when it reaches the hearing level increases greatly when you enlist the help of a seasoned disability attorney.
How An Attorney May Increase Your Chances
When deciding whether to hire an attorney, or when to hire one, you should first consider how an attorney may increase your chances of having your claim approved. You should consider how a disability attorney is familiar with the application process. After all, a disability lawyer has undergone special training and is required to undergo continuous education to become familiar with the laws and regulations as they change.
These attorneys have gone through this process many times because this is their legal focus. They have helped dozens of clients throughout the process, so they understand how the process works, and why claims are denied. They also know what it takes to get a claim approved, and they will be able to get your claim on the right track.
Disability attorneys know the dos and don’ts of disability claims. They know what should and should not be done to get your claim on the right track. The Blue Book, which is the medical guide used by the SSA, is difficult to read and everything is written using technical content. It was written for doctors and lawyers to understand. It is not easy for just any individual to understand what is wanted and needed.
Your attorney can review your conditions and the Blue Book listing and make the criteria more understandable. Your lawyer can then review the details of your medical records and compare them to the Blue Book to see if a listing can be met. Your attorney can regularly check on the status of your claim and find out if a decision has been made or if additional information is needed by Disability Determination Services to make a more informed decision regarding your disability claim.
Gathering Supporting Documentation
Your attorney can help gather all your medical records that are relevant to your disability claim. You want to be able to show the severity of your conditions, the symptoms, the treatments, the side effects, and your prognosis. To be approved for disability benefits, you must have a disability that is expected to last a year or longer or result in your death.
Hard medical evidence that clearly specifies your diagnosis and confirms your restrictions and limitations, so you will need to make sure that you detail everything that you can to your physician so it will be included in your file in the notes. This will help you get your claim approved and show how you are limited on your abilities to work and earn a living.
You will need to provide a detailed work history and include the specifics about your work duties and responsibilities, and your attorney will be able to help you get all that in order for your claim.
I’ve Already Submitted an Application to the SSA. Is it too Late to Hire a Disability Lawyer?
Regardless of where you are in the Social Security application process, it’s never too late to consider obtaining legal assistance with your SSDI claim.
Certainly, there are advantages to working with a Disability lawyer early on in the process. If you speak to a lawyer early, he or she can help you decide what medical evidence you need to meet a condition listed in the Blue Book. He or she may be able to work with your doctor, on your behalf, to obtain additional medical testing or documentation. Meeting a condition is the easiest way to earn financial benefits. If you can avoid an initial denial, you will save a tremendous amount of time and effort.
If you have already been denied, however, it is still a good idea to consider legal representation. From your first appeal to a disability hearing, a Disability lawyer or advocate is likely to be a valuable asset at any point in the SSDI application process.
How Is a Social Security Disability Attorney Paid?
When you retain a disability lawyer for your Social Security Disability claim, you will not need to pay anything out of pocket or upfront. Instead, the Social Security Administration has regulations that establish how a disability lawyer is paid. Disability lawyers take claims on a contingency basis, which means that your lawyer doesn't require a payment for his or her services until you are awarded disability benefits.
When you are awarded benefits, the SSA has laws that indicate how much the lawyer can charge. However, these specifics should be indicated in your agreement with the attorney when you retain his or her services.
The SSA indicates that the lawyer cannot charge more than 25 percent of your back pay, but that figure is capped at $6,000. So, if you were awarded $38,000 in backpay, your attorney will not be paid more than $6,000 per SSA guidelines.
Most attorneys will pay for the costs associated with obtaining the evidence and documentation that you need to get your claim on track. Medical providers will charge for copies of medical records, and this can add up to several hundred dollars depending on the extent of your medical history and the care that you received.
On average, the first 20 or 25 pages of medical records from a provider are $1 each with additional pages costing about 75 or 80 cents. If you have an extensive file at a specialist, it could consist of 200 or 300 pages, and by the time all your healthcare providers have supplied records, you could literally have hundreds of pages of medical records that must be reviewed.
Any costs for medical records will likely be billed to you by the attorney after your claim has been approved and you are awarded benefits. You will be responsible for reimbursing those costs. After the attorney is paid and the costs associated with the case are covered, you will receive the remainder of the back pay. While you can enlist the help of a disability lawyer at any time during the claims process, many people choose to hire an attorney before they start their disability application.
When you have a lawyer working with you from early on, you may be able to garner an approval earlier and get awarded the benefits that you need. Complete the Free Case Evaluation on this page to have your claim reviewed by an attorney or advocate that takes cases in your area!