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Why Should I Hire an Attorney for My Disability Claim?

Statistics show that those who hire legal representation for their Social Security Disability (SSDI) claim are three times more likely to win the benefits they deserve.

The process of claiming Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) can be confusing and frustrating. Disabled workers looking to file a claim often find themselves in uncharted territory and may be unsure of how to proceed. 

This confusion is common. The claims process involves dealing with legal jargon, collecting a variety of paperwork, and following strict deadlines. Often, individuals feel overwhelmed by the complex system. 

Hiring a disability attorney to assist you with your SSDI claim will help to decrease your stress and increase the likelihood of a successful claim- All without an out of pocket fee.

The Facts and Figures

A study by the Government Accountability Office (GOA) found that by hiring an attorney, claimants were three times more likely to have a successful claim than those who did not hire legal representation. 

The SSA (Social Security Administration) is not partial to attorneys. Those who hire legal representation deal with the same claims process as those who do not. The increase in approval ratings is reflective of the experience and knowledge that an attorney brings. 

How Exactly Does an Attorney Help?

Experience and Legal Knowledge 

A disability attorney has extensive knowledge of the SSDI claims process that a regular citizen does not have. They understand the legal jargon, the medical terminology, and the SSA’s criteria. They know how to navigate the claims process, and which facts of your case are most important to focus on to increase the likelihood of a successful claim. 

At the initial application, a disability attorney is able to cite SSA laws that are relevant to your case. With their knowledge of the SSA’s “blue book”, they are able to persuasively argue how your impairments meet one of the disability requirements.

At this level, an attorney can also offer guidice on your alleged onset date (AOD). Your AOD is the date that you claim your disability began. This date is important as it determines how much back pay you are entitled to. If the SSA feels that you do not have enough evidence to prove your AOD is the date you chose, they can change it. Having an attorney’s advice with the date selection can strengthen your case and the odds of having a larger backpay. 

An attorney can become even more useful at the hearings and reconsiderations level. A courtroom appearance may be inditmidtaing to you, but it is an attorney’s bread and butter. At this level they will prepare a strong case for your claim. In addition to this, they will prepare you for any questions you may face from a judge. 

Your attorney can also cross-examine Vocational or Medical Experts. By using expert witnesses, they can further prove to a judge that you meet the disability requirements and you are unable to work. 

At the appeals level, a disability attorney will know what issues of your case are most important to highlight. They will then use these points to persuasively argue why your SSDI claim was wrongly denied. 

Paperwork Collection and Deadline Dates

Even if you have a solid case, missing paperwork or important deadlines can lead to a denied claim. 

SSDI claims are essentially based on medical proof of a disability. If you do not provide the correct medical documents, or if you do not provide enough documentation- Your case can be denied. The SSA requires extensive evidence of a disability in order to grant benefits. 

A disability attorney will guide you through this process and assist you with collecting sufficient medical evidence. 

Along with documentation, the SSA will deny a claim if a deadline is missed. Their strict deadlines can be hard to follow and keep track of. If the SSA contacts you requiring further documentation of disability you typically have two weeks to provide it. If you do not meet the deadline, your case is denied. Or, if your case is denied at any level, you have 60 days to appeal. If the appeal is not done in this time frame, it could mean you have to restart the entire claim. 

Lack of evidence or failure to meet a required deadline is the reason that 65% of claimants are denied. An attorney will make certain that you are never behind on deadlines or missing medical documentation. 

Acting as a Liaison

Managing a physical or mental disability is stressful. Navigating the SSDI claims system makes many feel even more overwhelmed. By hiring a disability attorney you can relieve some of the stress and frustration that comes with a disability claim. 

An attorney will be in contact with your physician, collect the necessary medical documentation, and submit it for you. 

A licensed medical professional stating that they have found you to be disabled is essential to an SSDI claim. Without this evidence it is likely that the SSA will deny your claim. However, there are some doctors who are not willing to help with a disability claim. The reason for their unwillingness ranges. Often, many are too busy to fill out the documentation, others may not understand the claims process at all.  

Medical professionals typically respond better to another professional, like an attorney, than they do their clients. Disability attorneys also have experience with speaking with medical professionals. They can use this experience to make a doctor more willing to assist with the claim. 

Your attorney will also be in contact with Disability Determination Service (DDS) examiners or SSA for you. By handling this aspect, you do not have to communicate directly with Social Security, which can eliminate stress or confusion. Your attorney will make sure that the case is being handled, and keep you up to date with any changes. 

It is also helpful to many claimants to have someone in their corner advocating for them. An attorney will review the facts of your case to guarantee that nothing has gone unnoticed. They will work to develop the strongest argument for your case, and they will fight for you. 

Legal Fees

An attorney’s ability to build a strong case does not only benefit the client, but the attorney themselves. The legal fee process for SSDI claims is thoroughly regulated. Disability attorneys do not charge a fee unless the claim is won. 

If the claim is won, the attorney will receive 25% of the back pay, or $6,000- Whichever amount is lower. This $6,000 cap is federally mandated and will not increase regardless of how much money a client receives. 

The amount paid to your attorney is generally small in comparison to the amount you receive from backay, and the amount will earn moving forward. 

When Should I Contact an Attorney? 

As soon as you are considering applying for disability benefits, you should contact an attorney. By starting with a free evaluation  from a firm, you will know where you stand with the SSDI qualification requirements

At each level of the claims process, statistically, an attorney will increase your chances of winning your claim. For the initial application, those with legal representation were 40% more likely to have a successful claim. At the appeals level, those with representation were nearly two times more likely to win their claim.