Why You Should Hire a Lawyer for Social Security Disability
You should hire a lawyer for Social Security Disability (SSD) to significantly increase your chances of winning benefits. Studies have shown that people with legal representation have a much higher chance of being awarded disability benefits than those without a lawyer.
When applying for SSD benefits, the lawyer will help you gather the necessary documents and evidence to back up your claim and fill out the application correctly. Should you need to appeal an SSD denial, your lawyer will help you collect any missing pieces of evidence that may have contributed to the denial, prepare you for questioning, guide your testimony at hearings, and confront bad facts.
Reasons Why You Should Hire a Lawyer for Social Security Disability
Hiring an SSD lawyer may help increase your chances of obtaining disability benefits. A U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) study found that claimants who hired Social Security Disability lawyers were three times more likely to have their claims approved than the people who didn’t. Whether you’re applying for SSD benefits for the first time or appealing a denial, hiring a lawyer has clear advantages.
Do You Need to Hire a Lawyer to Apply for SSD Benefits?
You don’t have to hire Social Security lawyers for disability to apply for SSD benefits. You can choose to fill out and submit your application on your own. However, bear in mind that applying for SSD benefits isn’t just about simply filling out several forms and submitting them. The process also involves submitting your prior employment records, medical records, extensive paperwork, and proving that you meet the SSA’s definition of a disability. Enlisting the assistance of a disability lawyer will be beneficial in a number of ways.
A lawyer will assess the strength of your claim and determine how you should go about applying for benefits. Certain payments you receive can affect your SSD benefits. Your lawyer will give you more information on getting disability after a workers’ comp settlement or any other benefits you may be receiving. Your disability lawyer will also help you in several other ways during the initial application process.
A doctor’s supporting opinion is crucial to winning disability claims. Doctors can be reluctant to help claimants for a number of reasons, such as being unfamiliar with the SSD application process, being too busy, or their personal opinions on disability benefits. An SSD attorney has the skills and experience needed to communicate with medical providers and increase their willingness to help you with your claim. An attorney will help you gather your medical records, referrals, and other supporting documents required to substantiate your claim.
Filling Out Application Correctly
Most disability applicants don’t know how to fill out the initial SSD application in a manner that gives them the best chance of winning the benefits. The Social Security Administration (SSA) denies more than 60% of first-time applications. The odds are stacked against you. Your chances of success are even slimmer if you’re under 55. The odds of winning Social Security Disability when you’re over 55 are much higher.
With the odds against you, it’s crucial to ensure your application is accurate and backed by the appropriate evidence. A disability lawyer will help you prepare and complete your initial application correctly and submit the relevant documentation that will be most persuasive to the SSA. Your lawyer will look over your application for missing information and other errors that could compromise your chances of approval.
Speeding up the Process
Working with a lawyer may help you be approved for disability benefits faster and avoid the SSD appeals process. Your lawyer will help you prepare your disability claim and ensure you have the right medical records and paperwork. When all forms are filled out correctly, and you have the right evidence, you could speed up the determination and approval process.
Appealing a SSD Denial
You can hire a disability attorney at any stage of the disability claims process. A disability attorney’s help is especially crucial when navigating the appeals process. There are four levels of appeals:
- Administrative law judge (ALJ) hearing
- Appeals Council review
- Filing in the Federal District Court
The reconsideration level of appeal involves a different disability examiner who did not participate in your claim’s original evaluation, reviewing your SSD application and any other supporting documents. Such reviews aim to determine whether your claim should have been approved. The SSA often denies most appeals at this level. Of the more than two million SSD applications filed in 2019, more than 1.2 million received initial denials for technical, medical, or other reasons.
If your claim is denied after a reconsideration, you can request an ALJ hearing. Most successful disability claims are approved at the hearing level. Hearings give you and your lawyer an opportunity to show the severity and credibility of your disability in front of a judge and significantly increase your chances of having your SSD claim approved.
When you want to appeal the denial of your original application, an SSD lawyer can make a big difference in a variety of ways:
Social Security Disability lawyers have training and experience in trial preparation, trial practice, and the legal precedent and evidence that could help you during your appeal. Their experience gives them the necessary skills to help claimants win disability appeals.
Having been through the appeals process several times, your disability lawyer will know how to correctly get your claim through the process, avoid mistakes, and deal with any difficulties that arise. Your records may have information that could harm your case, such as evidence of not following your treatment plan consistently. A lawyer will know how to confront any bad facts and explain them to the judge, minimizing their potential damage.
Gathering the Missing Pieces
Solid documentation is critical to having a successful claim. Many applications for SSD benefits are denied due to a lack of sufficient evidence to prove the disability claim. A disability lawyer will review your denial notice and identify what additional documentation you need to provide to increase your chances of having your claim approved.
While you’re preparing for your hearing, your disability attorney will gather all the necessary documentation, including the evidence that may have been lacking, that could help you get a favorable judgment. That may include: communicating with and getting an opinion from your doctor and other medical specialists who have treated you; gathering relevant, complete, and coherent records that show how your disability prevents you from working; and putting together your work history to show that you’ve paid enough into the Social Security system to entitle you to disability benefits. Your attorney will also draft and submit a detailed and persuasive legal brief to the ALJ.
The complexity and volume of paperwork required during your appeal could easily overwhelm you. However, a disability lawyer will have the experience to handle them.
Preparation for Hearings
A lawyer’s guidance is critical in preparing for a disability hearing. Without a lawyer, you will be unprepared for the hearing. You will likely be nervous, fail to fully understand the details the court requires, and not know how to answer the questions asked. That could be detrimental to your disability claim’s outcome.
A disability lawyer will know the kind of questions you may be asked and help you prepare for the questioning process. Your lawyer will inform you of the commonly asked questions and guide you on how to respond to them effectively. As a result, your confidence will be boosted, and you will be more comfortable responding to the questions. You will be able to respond promptly and more accurately, and avoid accidentally saying something that could harm your case.
Chicago disability lawyers are usually familiar with the ALJs in Cook County. They may have appeared before these judges in their previous cases. They will likely understand how a particular ALJ likes hearings to be conducted and the type of evidence that the judge usually requires. This knowledge allows your lawyer to prepare for a hearing in a manner best suited to the judge assigned to your case.
Expediting the Process
A disability attorney can help move your appeal through the system more quickly, especially if you have a terminal medical condition or are in a dire financial situation. The attorney’s assistance could make the process proceed more smoothly and see your claim approved quicker than if you didn’t have legal representation. Your attorney can request an on-the-record (OTR) decision, which could enable you to be approved for disability benefits without a hearing.
Cross-Examining the Vocational Expert
The SSA hires vocational experts to testify about what they believe disability applicants can do in relation to their medical condition. Their testimony is highly influential at disability hearings. If you have a vocational expert opposing your claim at your hearing, it will be difficult for the ALJ to approve your claim if you don’t have a lawyer on your side.
Your disability lawyer has the necessary training to counter the vocational expert’s testimony if it could negatively affect your case. The lawyer will cross-examine the vocational expert and sway him or her into making statements that support your claim and demonstrate you can’t work.
Crafting the Best Argument for Your Case
Coming up with the best argument for your case will require knowledge of the SSA rules and regulations, as well as the strengths and potential weaknesses of your case. A disability attorney’s training will enable him or her to consider these factors effectively and choose legal arguments that work best for your case to help you win your appeal.
What Should You Ask a Disability Attorney?
You want to make sure that you hire the right Social Security disability lawyer for your case. Asking the following questions will help you learn whether a lawyer has the right qualifications and can help you have your claim approved:
- How long have you handled SSD cases, and how many cases have you handled?
- What do we need to do to be awarded disability benefits?
- How do you appeal SSD denials?
- What’s your experience in pursuing appeals and getting them approved?
- Are you conversant with my medical condition?
- How do you charge fees for your services?
How an attorney answers these questions will help you understand why to hire a lawyer for Social Security Disability, learn more about his or her services, and make a well-informed decision.