You’re not alone if you’ve tried applying for Social Security disability benefits through the Social Security Administration (SSA) and found the process challenging. The approval process requires medical records, work credits, and a sometimes confusing claims process. Hiring a Social Security disability lawyer may be your best path toward receiving disability benefits.
- Performing a Case Review
- Explaining the Application Process
- Assisting with the Application
- Collecting Medical Information
- Communicating with the Social Security Administration
- Navigating the Appeals Process
- Representing You at Legal Hearings
- Increasing the Likelihood of Approval
The SSA offers two types of disability compensation: Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI). SSI recipients qualify based on their disability, age, and income; SSDI beneficiaries qualify through work credits and their disability. Both types pay Social Security benefits monthly.
Whether you are new to the process of applying or have applied and been denied, you may notice that the Social Security disability claim process can be difficult to navigate. You must furnish medical evidence, fill out all required paperwork, and may be required to attend a consultative examination (CE). After applying, you could find yourself receiving a denial anyway.
A Social Security disability lawyer can not only help you with an appeal but also with your original claim, as they’re well-versed in the Social Security system.
Social Security disability benefits are a necessary form of monthly compensation for many. However, the process to get SSDI or SSI benefits isn’t always an easy one. A disability lawyer understands the process and the nuances of disability law to help you get your claim approved.
Here are the top benefits of hiring a disability attorney to assist you with your disability case.
The SSA allows you to appoint a representative or attorney to help you with your case. One of the most significant benefits of doing so is that disability lawyers can review your case before you even get started with your claim.
A case review allows your lawyer to look over your information and medical evidence to give you an idea of how your case might hold up during the Social Security review. The law firm can then give guidance as to what other information you might need to help your case move through the process smoothly.
Best of all, most disability lawyers provide a free case evaluation to clients.
Receiving Social Security disability pay can take a while, even after the SSA has determined that you qualify. Each step in the process can take several weeks to a few months, and it’s important for you to feel prepared.
Your lawyer can explain things such as the waiting period to start receiving SSDI benefits after approval and how SSDI back pay works. You’ll also learn about the appeals process and how the Disability Determination Service decides whether to approve or deny claims.
The initial application for disability pay can be confusing on its own. Some people with certain medical conditions may not be able to complete the application by themselves. A Social Security disability attorney is allowed to help fill out the application.
With the initial application, your attorney can check over the information you provided to ensure clarity and completeness. They can also check your medical evidence to determine whether your medical condition is well represented, explained, and documented.
Gathering the medical evidence you need to prove your disability to the DDS can be challenging, especially if you work with multiple medical professionals for your condition. Your disability lawyer can make sure you have all the information you need for a complete claim and may even be able to help you contact the right people to get the necessary documents.
If the SSA contacts you about needing more information or setting up a special examination to advance your claim, your lawyer can also assist you with these tasks.
Get assistance when communicating with the SSA about your claim through your lawyer. A disability law office has experience with the claims process for Social Security disability cases and knows the right people and departments to talk to for assistance.
For example, say that you’ve received a letter in the mail regarding your claim stating that you need to send additional information. You’re confused about what the SSA is asking of you, so you speak with your attorney. Not only will your attorney explain the letter, but they can also write back or call the SSA, depending on what’s needed, to provide the information on your behalf.
The disability appeals process begins when you file an appeal to reverse the SSA’s decision on your claim. Usually, this happens when the SSA denies your disability claim, either because it believes you can participate in SGA or your medical condition doesn’t fall within its guidelines of a disability.
A Social Security disability lawyer can walk you through the appeals process by suggesting the best route to take to get approved for SSD benefits. Communication between the SSA and you regarding your appeal can also go through your attorney if you’d like.
Your attorney can also represent you as your appeal makes its way to an administrative law judge for review. An administrative law judge reviews your disability claim and the SSA’s denial to make a fair and unbiased determination. The information given to the administrative law judge is known as your exhibit file, which contains any documents related to your claim, medical evidence, and work history.
At these hearings, also known as disability adjudication, you can be questioned about your claim and disability. However, if your attorney represents you, they can advise and prepare you before and during the hearing to help you feel more comfortable. Your lawyer may also provide additional medical evidence to help your case.
According to estimates, about 60% of disability claims applicants who hire a lawyer to help them through the claims process get approved as a result of an appeal. Because of all the help a lawyer can provide with your initial application, you may also increase your chances of getting approved without having to move to an appeal.
Are you considering hiring a Social Security disability lawyer to help you with your claim for disability benefits? The following tips can help you find the best one for your situation.
If you know people who have successfully gotten a disability claim approved with the help of a lawyer, start by asking them for recommendations. If you end up with a couple of options, see if each one offers a free consultation. Use the free consultation as a way to gauge your compatibility with the attorney.
Online ratings, reviews, and testimonials can often say a lot about an attorney, as they usually come from people who have personally used them for their own legal matters. Check trusted sources, like ConsumerReports, Trustpilot, and Consumer Affairs. The lawyer’s website might also have client reviews and testimonials.
The Better Business Bureau (BBB) score of a law firm is also helpful to check. The BBB score includes a business’s complaint history, licensing and government actions, time in business, and other elements that give an overall picture of a business’s legitimacy. Look through any complaints and positive reviews and the law firm’s responses to get an idea of how the firm handles its clients.
Many law firms post success rate data on their websites or are transparent with potential clients who ask for this information. If you can’t find the firm’s success rates on your own, consider asking what percentage of disability claim cases it has helped approve when you visit for your free consultation. This can give you an idea of what to expect with your own case.
Social Security disability lawyer fees can vary significantly with each attorney. The federal court usually caps the amount a lawyer can charge to help with your case at the lower of 25% of your back pay or $6,000. Some lawyers may charge the maximum amount, while others charge half that. Find out all fees upfront so that you can account for them in your budget.
When you meet with an attorney to discuss your case, ask important questions, such as:
- Do I really need a lawyer for this?
- How do you plan to help me?
- What is your process like?
- Who will be working on my case?
You may not be compatible with every lawyer you meet with, and that’s okay. Lawyers are also not compatible with every client. During your free consultation, take note of your overall feelings about the Social Security disability lawyer, including whether you believe they’re being transparent with you and whether you have personalities that mesh well together.
When researching what a Social Security disability lawyer does and how they can help you, you might also hear about a disability advocate. These terms are sometimes used interchangeably, but they offer different services. However, some advocates are also lawyers.
A disability lawyer specifically has a legal background that makes them qualified to assist with court cases and other legal matters surrounding Social Security disability. In contrast, a disability advocate is not required to have a law degree. Still, advocates often do have legal training, whether through a mentorship with a lawyer or partial education. Usually, disability advocates do hold a certification.
A disability advocate can also help you through the process of applying for disability benefits. Your advocate can also request reconsideration and represent you at a hearing before an administrative law judge. However, they will not be able to represent you if your case moves to a federal courthouse. They might also not have as much pull when assisting with certain tasks, like legal research or gathering medical evidence.
Having a Social Security disability lawyer is your right. These professionals can work with the SSA, the appeals council, and your medical team to move your disability claim through the process efficiently and, hopefully, get you the disability compensation you need. With the right lawyer on your side, you can feel confident that they’ll do everything in their power to get you a disability claim approval while aligning with Social Security disability law. Once you find a lawyer that you feel good about, let the SSA know as soon as possible who will be representing you by filing Form SSA-1696-U4.