If at first you don't succeed....Remember, social security denies most applications for disability benefits. Filing an appeal advances your case to an administrative law judge where you have a much better chance of winning. If you are denied, you must appeal your denial as early as possible.
Hire The Right Attorney
Find an attorney who has handled hundreds of cases. He or she will be in the best position to advise you and develop a strategy to win your case. Don't be afraid to ask how many cases the lawyer has handled and their winning average. In my opinion, any good social security disability lawyer will be happy to answer these two questions.
Keep on Treating
Social Security requires that a claimant show that they are disabled by objective medical evidence. If you have a doctor, keep on treating. If you don't have a doctor, find one. You can't win a disability case without a competent treating source who can explain what's wrong with you in medical terminology. Don't stop going to your doctor because you don't think it is helping. In the world of social security disability no treatment means that you are doing all right and can probably work.
It's Got to Be in The Record
Your attorney can review the exhibits filed with social security and make sure that all of your records are properly exhibited. Don't rely upon social security to obtain all of your medical records. Although they do their best, we find important medical documents are left out in almost every case we see! Make sure that you have an experienced attorney who can make sure that the records are complete and explain them to the judge.
Obtain Crucial Medical Opinions
In order to win a social security disability case, it is always beneficial to have your treating physician provide an opinion about how your medical condition affects your ability to do work. How much can you lift and carry? Can you stand and walk throughout a normal work day? How will your depression affect your attendance? Your treating doctor is in the best position to explain how your medical condition affects your ability to do work. It is frequently the most important piece of medical evidence. Your attorney knows what opinions are necessary and how to obtain them.
Prepare For The Hearing
Social Security hearings are informal. However, it is important to know what types of questions will be asked at the hearing and the best way to answer the questions. Depending upon the judge, either the judge or the attorney may ask the questions. You should know what to expect before you go in. Your experienced attorney is in the best position to know what the judge expects and how he or she conducts the hearing.
You Should Always Be Represented at Your Social Security Hearing
Representing yourself at a social security disability hearing is a huge mistake. You will be nervous and you will not know what to expect. Your experienced attorney will know what the issues are and how to put your case in the best light. Social Security speaks a different language and an experienced attorney knows that language.
Your Attorney Won't Get Paid Unless You Win
Most Social Security Disability attorneys charge a contingent fee which is capped by law at 25% or $6,000.00 of any award for back benefits. We don't get paid unless you get paid! Only back benefits are subject to the attorney's contingent fee.
It's All About the ALJ Hearing
If you lose your case at the ALJ hearing, you have the right to file an Appeal with the Appeals Council. That takes about two years and 90% of the cases appealed from the ALJ to the Appeals Council are denied! Most attorneys will not file an an appeal with the Appeals Council unless they represented the claimant at the ALJ hearing because the odds of winning at this level of appeal are so slim. What this means to you is that you must do everything you can to win at the ALJ hearing where your odds are much better.
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