People who proceed without an attorney are denied more often than claimants who hire an attorney. It is very complicated to handle a social securoty claim - there are very few "easy" claims and no case is a "sure winner."
I suggest people talk to an attorney. You could wait until you get the first denial and the get an attorney, but after that you will want to hire an attorney. I know people do not like to pay for attorneys, but if you lose, the attorbney charges nothing. More importantly, if you lose after a hearing, the chances of winning on appea (with or without an attorney) drop significantly.
You may contact your local city, county or state bar association to see if they have a lawyer referral program, or you may contact the National Organization of Social Security Claimants' Representatives (NOSSCR) for the name and email address or telephone number of attorneys in your area. Most attorneys who do any amount of Social Security work are members of NOSSCR and provide a free initial consultation. In any event, no attorney may charge a fee for work on a social security claim until it has been approved by Social Security. The fee limit is a maximum of 25% of past due or back due benefits you are owed, and many lawyers charge less than the full 25%, and the money is not paid until your claim has been approved.
The telephone number for the lawyer referral service of NOSSCR is 1-800-431-2804. NOSSCR's website is www.nosscr.org.
In addition, you can find a Board certified specialist in Social Security by contacting the National Board of Trial Advocacy. They evaluate lawyers (independently) in many types of claims and require extensive experience and testing before a lawyer is certified. They have a section specifically for Social Security: The National Board of Social Security Disability Advocacy, Divisions of the National Board of Legal Specialty Certification.
Their link is: http://www.nblsc.us/
I hope this information helps. Good luck to you!
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The exact answers to questions like this require more information than presented. The answer(s) provided should be considered general information. The information provided by this is general advice, and is not legal advice. Viewing this information is not intended to create, and does not constitute, an attorney-client relationship. It is intended to educate the reader and a more definite answer should be based on a consultation with a lawyer. You should not take any action that might affect your claim without first seeking the professional opinion of an attorney. You should consult an attorney who can can ask all the appropriate questions and give legal advice based on the exact facts of your situation. The general information provided here does not create an attorney-client relationship.
I agree that an attorney can be helpful. You need to be sure the attorney you contact is a specialist. That is why contacting NOSSCR as Mr. Ferrell suggests is the best policy.
This response is meant to be information only and should not be considered to be legal advice. This information is not meant and should not be construed to be the formation of an attorney client relationship. I practice Virginia Workers compensation law and Social Security Disability law.
There are several stages in the process of applying for Social Security Disability (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI). The first stage is the initial application. This can often be done without the assistance of an attorney. If you are fortunate enough to be awarded benefits at this stage you will have avoided paying attorney fees.
If you are denied benefits after your initial application you will have the opportunity to request Reconsideration of your application. At the Reconsideration stage you will have the opportunity to submit additional evidence, and you may elect to meet with a Social Security Administration Representative. It can be quite helpful to have the assistance of an attorney at this stage. An attorney may be able to help you identify what evidence is needed to strengthen your case, may be able to obtain statements from doctors and others which will help to document your eligibility for benefits, and may be able to provide other services which will increase the likelihood that you will be found eligible for benefits.
If you are denied benefits at the Reconsideration then you can request a Hearing with an Administrative Law Judge. At that stage (and the stages that follow that) the skills brought to your case by an attorney can play a particularly significant role in helping you to qualify for benefits.
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