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Should You Hire an Attorney to Assist You with Your Disability Claim?

Posted by attorney Brian Wayson

Call me biased, but an effective strategy for winning a Social Security Disability (SSD) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) disability case is to hire an attorney to assist you with your claim. An attorney well versed in Social Security Disability law has the experience and knowledge of the process, rules and laws oft times required to win benefits on these complex claims.

The majority of claimants (individual who have filed for SSSD or SSI) are denied at the initial application (68% denial rate) and reconsideration (86% denial rate) stages of their claim. Many claimants are not aware of the relatively strict appeal deadlines (generally 60 days) or their right appeal an adverse decision (in fact, less than 20% of initial denials are appealed.) If a claimant is denied twice on the same claim, he or she should ask for a hearing before a Social Security Administrative Law Judge (where approximately 55% of claims are approved - yeah!) Working with somebody who knows the Social Security rules, policies and procedures may be crucial to improving one's chances of being awarded benefits.

How a Disability Attorney Helps Social Security Award You Benefits

If you hire an attorney to work on your SSD or SSI claim help, that attorney can lend a helping hand with your the initial application, forms and reports. Your attorney may also answers questions you ask and advise you on strategies to pursue - preventing inaccurate, incorrect or detrimental evidence from entering into your file in the fits place - an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Your attorney can also prod the agency to acquire all the relevant medical evidence for your claim, formulate questionnaires for your medical providers to complete, take witness statements and generally advocate on your behalf.

I Urge You Not to Attend Your Hearing Without Representation

Yes, that is a double negative - but I want to emphasize this point. The ALJs prefer not to conduct hearings for un-represented claimants, and in fact often will urge such claimants to go think about it for 30 days and come back for the hearing. Why is this so? In most instances, a hearing conducted without a claimant's representative provides strongs grounds for an appeal and a remand back to the ALJ for a second hearing with an attorney representing the claimant - no ALJ wants to do the same hearing twice. This leaves the ALJ in a difficult situation - either approve the claim despite any misgivings the ALJ may have or deny the claim and have to conduct a second hearing upon appeal.

At the hearing level an attorney can counteract any of the negative evidence that entered the record prior to the hearing, gather additional evidence to bolster your claim and get that evidence into the file. Each ALJ has his or her individual quirks, an attorney familiar with the local judges can tailor your hearing strategy to that ALJ's preferences, helping the ALJ to see the claim from your perspective. If you are unprepared for your hearing you seriously hinder your chances of being awarded benefits.

An Attorney Strengthens and Supports Your Disability Claim

Your attorney is only paid a fee if your attorney wins you benefits - think about that - this makes your attorney more likley to do everything in his or her ability to win your case, nobody likes to work for free.Your attorney is your advocate, your ally, your advisor - your attorney applies all the knowledge gleaned from experience and education and applies that skill and knowledge to your case.

Look for an attorney offering a no cost, no obligation initial consultation. All the fees for Social Security cases are set and approved by the Social Security Administration so there will be littel or no variance between attorney in this regard. Decide if you want to hire an attorney with whom you will work directly or if you want to run your communications through a paralegal, legal assistant or receptionist and meet the attorney when he or she flies into town on the day of your hearing. I believe, that personal direct contact makes a world of difference, but then again I am biased.

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