During the process of applying for disability benefits, many people question whether they even need legal representation. After all, they have paid into the Social Security system for years. Why wouldn’t their claim just be accepted without a problem?
Unfortunately, that is just simply not the way it works. In fact, a majority of applicants will experience frustration almost immediately during this process, since up to 70% of SSI and SSDI claims are initially denied. The acceptance rate for reconsideration appeals is only slightly better. As an applicant, you may only have two or three opportunities for your claim to be approved before your chance is gone. Having a skilled attorney by your side as early as possible in your journey to get disability benefits will help to ensure that the process goes smoothly and that your chances of approval are as high as they can be.
Why Do I Need a Disability Attorney?
Hiring an attorney to help with your application for disability benefits does not guarantee success. However, having a lawyer to assist will most definitely increase your odds of being approved. Here are some ways that experienced nationwide disability lawyers can help secure a successful outcome for your disability claim:
- Understanding the Law: The Social Security disability laws are made up of federal statutes and regulations and are very complex and tedious. A top disability insurance attorney knows which laws to use to benefit your case.
- Meeting Deadlines: The application process is packed with deadlines. Depending on the type of disability claim being made, you could face short deadlines to submit important information. The deadline for your initial appeal, for example, is often as short as 60 days. If you miss one of these deadlines, your claim can be outright denied. An attorney will work to make sure that all key deadlines are met in order to keep the case moving along.
- Presentation of Evidence: A disability insurance lawyer knows the type of evidence that your SSD, SSDI, or disability insurance examiner is looking for in any given case. The appropriate evidence will be streamlined and presented to the Administrative Law Judge or hearing officer in the most compelling manner. The evidence should clearly demonstrate the disability you are experiencing as well as how it impacts your ability to function in the work place.
When Should I Hire a Disability Insurance Attorney?
To answer this question, it is important to have an understanding of the steps involved with the disability application process. In a typical case, the first step is completing and submitting the initial disability application. After the application is completed, a review will be conducted. At this stage, up to 70% of disability claims are denied.
Following the initial review, an unsuccessful applicant is entitled to a reconsideration of their claim. The reconsideration can take additional or new evidence into account. If your claim is denied again you reach the third stage of the process, which is a review by an Administrative Law Judge or ALJ.
Most people believe that they should wait until they reach the point of the ALJ hearing before hiring a disability attorney. The logic goes like this: Why should I even waste my time to hire an attorney when my claim is likely going to be denied at the first two stages of the process?
There are several key reasons why having an attorney early on may benefit you:
- Your attorney can help gather important evidence that makes a difference at the initial review stage. An experienced disability insurance lawyer can increase your chances of being approved earlier by presenting the best and most compelling evidence. An attorney knows what to look for based on the details of your specific case and then how to present it in a convincing manner.
- If you were denied, a disability attorney can better determine the reasons for your denial. Did you leave out crucial information? Were you missing testimony that would have helped? Did you not submit enough medical records? Did your application contain errors or was it otherwise incomplete? Your attorney can review your denial letter and correct common mistakes that applicants make during the process, or better yet, prevent them from occurring in the first place.
- Most importantly, your attorney provides you with legal advice and assistance. Applying for disability benefits is stressful. Your attorney knows the law and understands the steps to be taken to increase your odds of approval. Instead of placing the burden on yourself, an experienced lawyer will handle all of the important components of your claim.
The Cost of Hiring a Disability Lawyer
Many people, especially those going through the disability application process, worry how they will be able to afford an attorney. The good news is that most disability cases are handled on a contingency fee basis. This means that the legal fees for your case are deducted as a portion of your benefits once they are approved. You do not pay any fees up front, nor do you pay any fees if your attorney does not achieve a successful outcome for your case.
Most disability lawyers offer a free initial consultation. You can meet with them and explain your situation as well as show any evidence you may already have like medical records. The attorney will be able to make a determination based on their experience as to whether there is a strong likelihood that you could get approval for your disability application. If the attorney feels that they can help you, they will take on your case without any out-of-pocket payment from you.
Before you complete your application, or if you need to file an appeal soon, you should contact a skilled disability insurance attorney. Having legal assistance as soon as possible is the best way of increasing your chances of success at every level of your disability case. There is no circumstance in which it would be better to attempt to file your disability claim on your own, without the guidance and representation of an experienced disability lawyer.