If you are uncomfortable navigating through government programs or feel overwhelmed at the thought of applying for Social Security disability, then hiring an attorney may be the right thing for you to do.
An experienced attorney can help you with many steps along the way. When filing an initial claim, there is actually very little for an attorney to do, other than advise you, help you fill out forms, gather paperwork and assist in responding the requests by Social Security.
But the further you go in the process, especially if your claim is denied, the more valuable an attorney becomes.
Check Your Eligibility
Most people retain an attorney after their disability application has been denied. Because applicants have only 65 days to file a Reconsideration Appeal, an attorney can be a valuable asset in helping complete the required paperwork in a timely manner. More than 80 percent of Reconsideration Appeals are denied and to pursue a claim means that you must request a hearing in front of an administrative law judge.
The period leading up to the hearing and the actual hearing itself are generally when an attorney proves to be the most valuable for claimants. An attorney is able to monitor your case and stay in contact with Social Security, responding to any correspondence they might send. The attorney will review all the files that are currently part of your claim, and as your hearing draws closer, he/she will update your files so that you have the most current medical records to support your disability claim.
Due to a large backlog of claims, although an attorney cannot speed up the process through the court system, they can expedite your case by using their extensive experience to make sure you don’t encounter any delays due to missing forms or documentation. This can save months in making a final determination on your claim.
At the disability hearing, your lawyer will prove their worth in presenting your case to the judge, arguing your case by using medical records, statements from physicians and other professionals. It’s a common tendency that when claimants represent themselves, they can get overly emotional and stray from the facts, which is really only what a judge is concerned with. And by straying from the facts, a claimant may also overlook or forget to present evidence that is crucial for their case. An attorney can provide an unemotional, straightforward, facts-based case, which increases the probability of approval.
The attorney may also quiz a medical expert if the judge has deemed that one should be present for your case. Your attorney will also be able to prep you for any questions the judge will have for you as well.
Check Your Eligibility
In short, if you are comfortable with submitting a claim and don’t foresee any major issues, you can probably work through the process yourself. But if you anticipate questions or processes that overwhelm you, or if your disability prevents you from doing the best job possible in representing your interests, it’s best to consider retaining an attorney to handle your SSDI claim.