How to Win a Disability Appeal Without a Lawyer

Yes, it’s possible to win a disability appeal without hiring a lawyer. The SSA also doesn’t require you to have one. But statistics prove that you are more likely to get approved if you have a lawyer. Why is that? First, lawyers have extensive knowledge of the legalities concerning disability claims.

They know what the law says and can determine what particular provisions apply to your case. Since they handle many disability cases, they already know the system like the back of their hand. They know what the SSA wants to see and how to make them see it. If you’re worried about the cost, don’t.

Disability lawyers only get paid when you win your case. If you get denied, you won’t have to pay anything. It’s essentially a win-win situation. But if you’re confident you can win your case, here are some tips and tricks to ace the disability appeals process.

HOW TO WIN A DISABILITY APPEAL WITHOUT A LAWYER

There are various stages of the appeals process. The first is filing a written request for reconsideration. If the SSA denies your claim, you must attend an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) hearing. If, after the hearing, your claim is still denied, you can go to the Appeals Council, which has the final say.

FILING FOR RECONSIDERATION

When filing for reconsideration, you first need to make sure you file your request promptly. The SSA only gives you 60 days to file a request for reconsideration. If you fail, you will have to start the application process again. Another thing you need to secure is relevant medical evidence to support your claim.

The SSA usually does this for you, but you can’t rely on them to have complete records. With the massive number of claims they’re processing, losing your records is manageable. Among the evidence you need to get are medical records and doctor’s opinions. Take note that you only need to get “relevant” ones. Meaning only those that can help prove your disability. 

You don’t have to submit dental or gynecology records if your claim is based on a shoulder injury. The same also applies to the doctor’s opinion. Only submit those that came from the doctor/s who are treating your disability. Some states allow doctors to collect fees to release medical records, while others don’t. But this usually doesn’t cost more than a few hundred dollars.

Most of the time, however, identifying the necessary medical evidence isn’t always clear-cut. If you’re submitting the same medical evidence you did during your initial application, then it’s no use. There’s a big chance that the SSA has already evaluated it and found it lacking. This is why you need to understand why your case was denied. If it’s because you failed to prove your disability, you need to make sure that the new evidence you’ve submitted will prove it without a doubt.

REQUESTING FOR HEARING

Like the request for reconsideration, you only have 60 days to request a hearing with the ALJ. You can submit the request online or print the forms (Form SSA-3441, Form SSA-827, Form HA-501) and bring them to the SSA office nearest to you. They also accept applications by phone. Just contact your local SSA office.

PREPARING FOR HEARING

Most denied disability claims get approved during the ALJ hearing. That’s why you need to prepare yourself for it physically and mentally. Research possible questions you might be asked and the questions you need to ask. If you have a lawyer, they can help you with this. They are already familiar with the hearing procedures and know what questions might be asked.

REPRESENTING YOURSELF AT THE HEARING

The judge won’t expect you to act like an attorney if you don’t have legal representation at the hearing. They will walk you through the process. You also won’t be expected to know medical terms like a doctor. Instead, the questions will primarily focus on your experience and how your disability affects your capacity to do things.

Most hearings will also have a “vocational expert.” They are people who review your records and recommend jobs that you can still do. They’ll show this list of jobs at the hearing, but you’ll also be allowed to ask them questions and prove them wrong.

WHAT ARE THE CHANCES OF WINNING DISABILITY WITH A LAWYER?

When it comes to winning disability benefits with the help of a lawyer, the chances can vary depending on several factors. Having legal representation can significantly improve your odds of receiving a favorable outcome. A lawyer specializing in disability law understands the intricacies of the process and can guide you through the complexities. They will gather the necessary medical evidence, prepare strong arguments, and present your case effectively.

The success rate of winning disability benefits with a lawyer can be influenced by various factors, such as the strength of your medical evidence, the severity of your condition, and your attorney’s expertise. While there are no guarantees, statistics have shown that having legal representation increases the likelihood of a successful claim.

According to a study by the Government Accountability Office (GAO), claimants who had representation were more likely to receive approval for disability benefits than those who navigated the process alone. Partnering with a skilled disability lawyer can significantly improve your chances of winning the benefits you deserve.

AFTER THE HEARING

If you feel like there are questions you haven’t fully answered during the hearing, you can ask permission from the judge to explain them in writing. You will be notified of the ALJ’s decision within a few months after the hearing. You can take your case before the Appeals Council iUnfortunately, the council usually upholds the ALJ’s decision. If this happens, you can file lawsuit in federal court or  you need to start your application all over again. And it would be wiser to get yourself a disability lawyer this time.

lawyers shaking hands with a person who won a disability appeal without lawyer

HOW TO WIN SSI APPEAL?

Firstly, it’s crucial to understand why your claim was denied so that you can address those specific issues. Gathering additional medical evidence that supports your disability and the impact it has on your daily life is essential.

It’s also vital to meet all deadlines and submit a well-crafted appeals letter explaining why you believe you qualify for SSI benefits. Hiring a qualified disability attorney can provide valuable guidance, ensuring you have legal expertise.

Remember to stay organized, communicate effectively, and be prepared for any hearings or exams that may be required. By following these tips, you can increase your likelihood of success in your SSI appeal.

VICTOR MALCA – Florida Workers Compensation & Social Security Disability Attorney

Victor Malca P.A. has over 27 years of litigation experience in Workers Compensation and Social Security Disability lawsuits. His experience and continued success when fighting for his clients puts him among the most trusted workers’ compensation attorney’s in Florida. He specializes in representing injured workers on compensation benefit cases and disabled individuals claiming lost social security disability benefits.

Book a free consultation today. Our unwavering advocacy for employee rights and privileges are recognized by our past clients across South Florida.

About The Author

Judy Ponio is a writer and editor for the Victor Malca Law P.A. website and blog. She enjoys helping people in need with questions about social security disability and workers compensation law. She has a passion for helping those in need and the elderly with accurate legal information that can make a positive difference in their lives.