The Social Security disability application process can be overwhelming, especially during a time that your health is suffering. While you are not required to hire a lawyer who specializes in Social Security disability cases, you will likely find it to be extremely beneficial.
A Social Security disability attorney has experience dealing with the Social Security Administration (SSA) and, as a result, is very skilled at handling the various issues that may arise throughout the application process.
Should you choose to use a Social Security disability attorney, he or she will function as the communicator between you and the SSA. The Social Security disability application process is complex and much of the language used is often foreign to the average person. Your experienced disability attorney speaks the same language as the SSA, and thus can communicate on your behalf. In addition to serving as the middleman, your disability attorney will:
Complete an Initial Review of Your Case
No matter where you are in the application process, your attorney will carefully review your case from start to finish. After reviewing your information, your attorney will determine the best approach for moving forward. A disability attorney will help to craft a compelling story around your case, developing a strategy on how your case will be won.
Ensure That Your Application is Complete
Perhaps one of the most significant mistakes made by individuals who are applying for Social Security disability benefits is filing an incomplete claim. A majority of applicants are denied during the initial stages of the process, and one of the biggest factors is an incomplete application. A Social Security lawyer will ensure that you have crossed all of your t’s and dotted all of your I’s during the application process.
Collect and Sort Medical Evidence on Your Behalf
Social Security disability cases are won and lost on medical evidence. After you sign a medical records release, an experienced attorney will help gather the relevant medical evidence needed for your application. A disability attorney will review your medical records and will work with you to collect any missing medical tests. More importantly, he or she will sort through the hundreds of pages of documents to determine which information is most important. Finally, most attorneys will work directly with your physician or other healthcare providers to gather supportive opinion statements or letters.
Stay in Communication with the Social Security Administration
The volume of claims that pass through the Social Security office is enormous. Further, the application process is complex, filled with deadlines and various formalities. A disability lawyer will communicate with the SSA on your behalf.
File Necessary Appeals
According to data from the Social Security Administration (SSA), less than 40% of Social Security disability applications are approved at the initial application level. If your case is one that receives an initial denial, you may appeal the decision. There are several distinct steps in the appeals process, and all must be completed within a certain amount of time. A Social Security attorney can help you navigate the appeals process.
Represent you at Disability Hearings
The majority of disability claims are won at the hearing level. If you have been denied disability benefits and you appeal, you will be offered a hearing in front of an administrative law judge. Disability hearings are stressful, and preparation is critical. A Social Security attorney will ensure that you are adequately prepared for your hearing. While you will still need to speak for yourself, he or she will represent you at the conference. Additionally, your lawyer for Social Security disability will ask questions of your witnesses, as well as address any expert witnesses, such as vocational experts.
Am I Required to Have a Social Security Disability Attorney?
While no one is ever required to have an attorney when filing for Social Security disability, your chances for approval dramatically increase when working with one. Some people are skeptical about hiring an attorney, as they may already be struggling financially due to their illness. However, a Social Security disability attorney does not get paid unless you win your case.