Reasons to hire an attorney when applying for Social Security Disability

Reasons to hire an attorney when applying for Social Security Disability

Individuals with disabilities or certain extenuating circumstances often qualify for federal aid. Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) are two such aid programs that offer assistance to individuals who meet the eligibility criteria, such as a qualifying disability and limited income and resources, set by the Social Security Administration (SSA). However, there are several reasons why the SSA may deny one’s claim, making it advisable to hire an attorney.

The application process
One could apply for the Social Security disability program online, over the phone, or in person. In either case, the process follows a couple of general steps:

You will need to gather the information and documents you need to apply.
The application must be completed and submitted.
The application is reviewed by the SSA to ensure the basic requirements are met for the disability benefits.
The administration will confirm you have worked sufficient years to qualify and evaluate current work activities.
The administration processes the application and forwards the case to the Disability Determination Services office in your state.
The state agency will make the disability determination decision.

Understanding representation
While the process seems fairly simple, there’s a lot of complex documentation involved, and hiring a lawyer could come in handy. The professional could be an attorney or a disability advocate who is not a lawyer but has passed an SSA-administered exam and met other educational and occupational requirements. Whether or not you require help is entirely up to you and depends on your circumstances. You may decide not to appeal if you are denied a claim; however, you have the right to an attorney to help with legal proceedings concerning the Social Security Administration.

Benefits of hiring a disability attorney
A range of obstacles may arise when dealing with social security disability applications. So hiring a social security attorney could be highly beneficial, primarily because they are skilled at dealing with various issues associated with the process. There are a couple of benefits that you could expect after hiring a professional.

Carry out the initial case review
Irrespective of where you stand in the application process, the attorney will carefully review the case to the T. Once the information is reviewed, the professional will be able to determine the best way to move forward with the file. The disability attorney may also help come up with a compelling story around the case and curate a strategy on how the case will be won.

Complete the application
The most common mistake that people may make when applying for Social Security disability benefits is leaving the application incomplete. Consequently, it may result in the denial of a majority of applications right at the start of the process. Therefore, by hiring a Social Security disability lawyer, you can rest assured that they will fill in all the details, complete the application, and submit the necessary documents on time.

Collect and sort healthcare evidence
Evidence on healthcare presented during a social security hearing could determine whether the case is lost or won. So when you sign and agree to release healthcare-related records, the lawyer will gather the evidence required for the application. The professional will review these records and work with you to gather anything missing, including documentation on health-related tests. Furthermore, the attorney will also go through hundreds of pages of documents to assess which is relevant to the case. They may also work directly with the physician or other healthcare providers to collect supportive opinions in the form of letters or statements.

Stay in touch with the social security administration
You should remember that there are thousands of claims that are sent and addressed by the Social Security office. And considering the complex application process, narrow timelines, and other formalities, the administration may accidentally overlook applications. The disability attorney communicates with the SSA on your behalf and ensures that your application is put forth on schedule.

File the required appeals
Data from the Social Security Administration (SSA) indicates that less than 40% of Social Security disability applications are approved at the initial application level. So if the case is rejected in the initial stages, you will have to carry out multiple steps to file an appeal. Rather than having to run around by yourself, the disability attorney can help you understand the steps in the process and file the appeal within the allotted time.

Represent disability hearings
Most disability claims are won at the hearing level. If you are denied disability benefits and make an appeal, you could be offered a hearing in front of an administrative law judge. These hearings are crucial and require extensive preparation. So by hiring a Social Security attorney, you could better prepare for the hearing. You will have to speak for yourself at the hearing, but the attorney could also represent you at the conference. The professional will also ask questions to your witnesses and address any expert witnesses, such as vocational professionals.

Attorney fees
The fee of the Social Security disability attorney is based “on contingency.” So they will only collect a fee if they win your disability claim. And this applies to both SSDI and SSI, irrespective of how long the case remains in court. The lawyer is not paid until the proceedings are finalized and the case is won. To collect their fees, Social Security lawyers must enter into written fee agreements with their clients (you) and submit those documents to Social Security for approval. If the fee agreement is approved, the attorney will be paid out of your back pay once the case is won. The fee agreed upon between you and the lawyer could differ, but it must not exceed $7,200 or 25% of your back pay, whichever is less. One should also note that sometimes the case requires multiple hearings or an appeal to the Appeals Council or federal court. In this situation, the disability lawyer is permitted to file a fee petition with SSA to request to be paid more than the $7,200 limit.