In my opinion you should get an attorney as early in the process as possible as there is no fee unless you are awarded benefits (contingency) and the fees are set by Social Security law and would be the same regardless if you hire the attorney the week before your hearing or the day you applied originally.
Search here on Avvo, contact your local or state bar association, or check with NOSSCR or NADR to find a Social Security attorney in your area. Look for one offering a free no-obligation initial consultation (most do) then meet with one or more and sign up with somebody with whom you are comfortable working. NOSSCR Lawyer Referral Service - For help in finding attorney representation, contact its lawyer referral service during Eastern business hours: 800-431-2804 or see: http://www.nosscr.org/referral.html . NADR - Find a Representative - telephone the automated system at 1-800-747-6131 or see: http://www.nadr.org/find-a-representative/ .
Disclaimer Information on this site is provided by Brian Scott Wayson as general information, not legal advice, and use of this information does not establish an attorney-client relationship. If you have questions about your specific situation, please call an attorney.
Please re-read my answer to your first question. The issue is not whether you had insured status when you filed your claim, but rather when you became disabled. Apparently your ALJ decided that your condition worsened, and you had become disabled by the time of your hearing, but that you had not proved your condition met the definition of disability at any time prior to the expiration of your insured stated.
Cases take 15 months or even longer at Appeals Council because there are many cases and much work that must be done on every case. Your case has not been singled out for any kind of special slow processing. Be aware, however, that unless you made a very strong record for the severity of your condition while you have insured status, your appeal will fail.
I see nothing illegal in the handling of your case as you describe it.
Best wishes for a favorable outcome, and please remember to designate a best answer.
This answer is offered as a public service for general information only and may not be relied upon as legal advice.
My colleagues are correct. If you do not have an attorney, think seriously about getting one now.
The Appeals Council denies about 81% of all appeals. And many lawyers will not appeal into federal court after an Appeals Council decision because they cannot add new evidence to the record. and even then, at best the chance of winning in federal court on a good day is 50-50.
You may contact your local city, county or state bar association to see if they have a lawyer referral program, or you may contact your local legal aid office if you cannot afford an attorney.
You may also contact the National Organization of Social Security Claimants' Representatives (NOSSCR) for the name and email address or telephone number of attorneys in your area. 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/
You may also contact NADR (National Association of Disability Representatives) www.nadr.org – automated Telephone Referral System at 1-800-747-6131.
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.
I hope this information helps. Good luck to you!
Please remember to designate a best answer to your question.
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.