Disability attorneys serve as invaluable guides and advocates for claimants seeking the financial support they need to cope with disabilities that prevent them from working. The application process can be complex and requires extensive medical documentation. Legal representation can expedite gathering of necessary documents and paperwork, potentially reducing the time it takes to receive benefits. In addition, they can help ensure that ERISA deadlines are met to avoid denials due to missed filing dates.
The Role of the Attorney
Disability attorneys assist claimants in gathering essential documentation, building a strong medical record, addressing challenges and denials, and maximizing benefits. They can also offer support throughout the process by reassuring and reducing stress. A successful disability claim requires extensive documentation and stringent eligibility criteria. A disability attorney understands what the reviewers at Disability Determination Services (DDS) are looking for and can present a comprehensive case on behalf of their client, which increases the likelihood that they will receive approval. Disability attorneys also prepare for hearings and help their clients respond to questions from an administrative law judge, which can make the difference between a favorable or unfavorable decision. They can also maximize the retroactive benefits, significantly improving a client’s financial situation. Additionally, they can file an appeal if Social Security denies their client’s initial claim. Thus, if you have trouble filing your disability claim, it’s advisable to seek assistance from an attorney.
Preparing for a Hearing
Hearings can be one of the most stressful and expensive parts of a disability case. When considering an attorney, ask how they handle the hearings process, including the ability to file a request for reconsideration or appeal if necessary. They should be familiar with preparing a case for a hearing, which includes constructing a “hearing bundle” and dealing with facts and expert witnesses. They should also be familiar with ERISA guidelines, which provide structure for the claims process. This knowledge helps ensure all paperwork is submitted within timeframes, avoiding claim denials for missed deadlines. They can also assist with completing disability applications by reviewing medical documents and providing guidance to help prevent errors that can lead to application denials. They can even help individuals navigate the appeals process, which can significantly increase the chances of having their disability benefits approved. They can prepare and present evidence, speak with doctors to obtain additional documentation and subpoena witnesses if necessary.
Filing a Request for Reconsideration
While most disability applicants assume their claims will be approved at the initial application level, this is rarely true. As many as 30 percent of disability claimants are denied benefits at this stage. If you’re denied disability benefits at the initial application level, you have 60 days to request reconsideration with the SSA. Reconsideration is a second chance for you to have your claim approved, but you must work with an attorney to ensure all the information necessary is submitted. Your disability case will be reviewed again at the reconsideration stage but examined by a different Disability Determinations Services (DDS) examiner. However, these examiners are still restricted to the rules applied to the original examiner, which is why so many cases are denied at this stage. At this point, a qualified disability advocate or lawyer can identify the weak points in your case and gather new medical evidence to help you get approved.
Filing an Appeal
You can request an appeal if your case is denied at the reconsideration stage. This is done by contacting your local Social Security office or filing a form online. Your attorney can help you complete this form and a Disability Report. You must provide as much detail as possible about any changes in your condition since your initial denial. Your lawyer will help you compile additional evidence and present strong arguments in your appeal. They can also assist you in appealing the decision made by the Appeals Council, which is the last step of the administrative review process. If your claim is not approved at this level, you must file a case in federal court. Statistically, applicants who attorneys represent have a much better chance of winning their disability claims. This is especially true in the case of an appeal before an administrative law judge.