I was denied disability have many health issues Depression,high blood pressure,heart valve disease,high cholesterol,and Panic Disorder. Diid the initial application online alone was told by a non attorney a LAWYER is not needed and I was denied 1- most people are denied first
2- Social security is not going to ask for medical documents for me it was my responsibility to supply medical facts which I didn't know. I thought they they did and that's why they ask for your doctors name\numbers.
3- if the non attorney amens I have an easy case that would be handled in 4-5 months because all I need to do is submit needed medical documents which social security never saw. 4- he can assist me in getting documents and I don't pay 25%/6000 unless I win
my question is go wt attorney or non attorney.
Most attorneys also do cases on a contingency fee basis - meaning you only pay the 25%/$6,000.00 if you win. The thing that sounds the most off base to me about the advice you got from the non-attorney has to do with the timeline you were told that the appeal will take - i.e. 4-5 months. Most appeals are not processed in 4 to 5 months, even if SS was missing medical documentation at the initial level. You will likely have to wait to get to a hearing before your claim is heard. At that hearing you will appear in front of a judge and tell your story. I would get an attorney if I were you. It will cost you the same amount of money.
All representative fees, whether a lawyer or not, are regulated the Social Security. You will pay the same fee to a non-attorney.
Decide how important receiving benefits is to you, and how capable you are of handling the claim process alone. Get some help if you need it. I always urge disability claimants to hire a lawyer if they have been denied benefits.
The recent nationwide statistics from the Social Security Administration show that:
a) Initial Applications are denied approximately 65% of the time and these take 3-4 months on average to process, but can take six months or more.
b) Requests for Reconsideration (the first appeal) are denied about 78% of the time and these also take 3-4 months on average to process, but can take six months or more.
c) Hearings before a Social Security ALJ (the second appeal) are approved about 65% of the time - the wait to get to a hearing varies greatly depending on which hearing office you are dealing with (they time varies from 10 to 24 months), in our area the current wait is approximately 16 months (it has been as high as 25 months in the past five years).
According to the General Accounting office of the US Government, the percentage of ultimately favorable decisions for claimants with representation was about 61% compared to 39% without representation. With representation you are more likely to win your Social Security Disability benefits.
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.
Contact your local or state bar association or NOSSCR 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 one you are comfortable with.
NOSSCR Lawyer Referral Service - For help in finding attorney representation, contact its lawyer referral service during Eastern business hours:
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.
I concur with all of my colleagues' advice. I would add that an attorney has additional ethical obligations placed on him/her as being a member of the bar that a non-attorney does not necessarily have. That lawyer, thus, has the ethical duty and obligation to zealously represent you in addition to the profit motive that anyone would have. Consequently, you also have additional source of discipline should you have issues with your attorney.
As always, you should consult an attorney for advice regarding your individual situation. We invite you to contact us and welcome your calls, letters and electronic mail. Contacting us does not create an attorney-client relationship. Please do not send any confidential information to us until such time as an attorney-client relationship has been established.
I agree with what the others have said in answering your question about how to find an attorney, but as I read your question, you are asking whether you should hire an attorney or a non-attorney to represent you. What many people do not realize is that through the administrative steps of the Social Security system, any person can represent people claiming Social Security disability benefits and this representative does not have to be an attorney. Many large companies market themselves as "claimant representatives" or something like that and the person who will be handling your claim and appearing with you at the hearing is not an attorney. This is legal up through the Social Security administrative process although the non-attorney person cannot represent you in court. Some people do not care if their "representative" is an attorney or not and some of these representatives are knowledgeable about Social Security. My experience has been that the non-attorney representatives charge the same as you would pay if you hired an attorney. Whether you want a non-attorney representative or someone who is an attorney licensed to practice law in the state in which they practice it is up to you.
Disclaimer: the above does not constitute legal advice and is only an opinion of the author as to current law. You should consult an attorney with questions about your particular situation.
If your state requires filing of a "Reconsideration" of the denial of your initial application this is due 60 days from the date of the initial denial. Whether or not you want representation on the Reconsideration is largely based on how pro-active you are in your claim. If your state does not require a "Reconsideration" filing, then a Request for Hearing by an Administrative Law Judge is due 60 days from the denial. If you file either of these yourself, file in person at the Social Security Administration (SSA) and ask for a date stamped (conformed) copy of the same to ensure you can prove you filed in a timely manner.
Once the Reconsideration is filed your claim should be forwarded by SSA to the State agency of disability determination services who contracts with SSA to make a determination where it is assigned to a decision-maker referred to as an adjudicator. Again, if you are unrepresented, you may have to prod your local SSA office to forward your claim on to that agency.
The adjudicator who makes the determination on your claim is responsible for obtaining all relevant medical evidence in your case. Unfortunately, the thoroughness with which the adjudicator pursues this is based on his or her work ethic. I recommend if you do not have representation on your Reconsideration, you stay in steady contact with the adjudicator to ensure all relevant materials are obtained in your case.
The adjudicator has 90 to 120 days to make a determination on the Reconsideration. If denied, you would then need to file a Request for Hearing before an Administrative Law Judge. Again, if you are unrepresented you may have to contact that adjudicator to ensure he or she his processing the claim and following up on records requests.
Anyone practicing in this area works on a contingency allowing for a fee of 25% of the back benefits with a maximum fee of $6,000 if approved for benefits. My experience is that attorneys who practice in this area generally have a greater understanding than do non-attorney representatives, of the legal arguments including the Policy Interpretation Rulings, The Hallex and POMS, which govern the SSA.
Once it is necessary to file a Request for Hearing by an Administrative Law Judge, I think obtaining representation is essential. My bias is employing an attorney as they are at least vetted by having secured a license to practice law and will likely be required to carry errors and omissions (malpractice) insurance.
Please contact a local practitioner to ensure you have someone in the region familiar with the locals who will handle your claim.
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