When you’re applying for social security disability benefits, hiring a disability lawyer is not required by law. But doing so can be very beneficial for your case.
According to the SSA, denied social security disability claims average at 53%. Most of them got denied during the initial application stage.
But based on the results of a survey conducted by a private firm, about 60% of those who got their SSDI or SSI benefit did so with the help of a lawyer. This gives us an idea of how important disability attorneys are when fighting for your disability benefits.
So, what does a disability lawyer do? Here are some of the services you can expect from them:
1. Conduct an Initial Review of Your Case
When you first get in touch with a disability lawyer, they will conduct an initial review of your case. If you’ve never applied for disability benefits, they will assess your eligibility for disability. But if you’ve already been denied, they will look at what went wrong with your application.
The information you’ll provide them about your denied disability is essential. It will help them determine the level of appeal your case needs and also come up with an effective plan of action to get your claim approved.
2. Gather Evidence to Support Your Claim
The SSA’s disability determinations process uses an evidence-based approach in granting disability benefits. They will want you to prove that your disability really prevents you from going back to work or doing any type of income-generating activity.
If you hire a disability lawyer, the burden of compiling the necessary evidence to support your claim will fall largely on them. You won’t have to stress yourself talking to your doctors or thinking about what type of medical evidence you need to get.
Experienced disability lawyers know the ins and outs of the SSA’s disability evaluation system like the back of their hands. They know what the SSA wants to see and what type of evidence to submit for them to see that.
Most of the time, they will focus on your medical records. First, you’ll need to sign a medical records release. Then, they will talk to your doctors and any medical professional who treated you. They will ask for written statements, diagnoses, and the like. If necessary, they will also get sworn statements from the people who know about your disability. This is especially true if you’re applying for SSDI since it’s a disability-based benefit.
3. File a Request for Reconsideration
If your claim gets denied at the initial application stage, you have the right to appeal the SSA’s decision. This is where an experienced disability lawyer can help you too. They can help you navigate the appeals process and file a request for reconsideration.
4. Develop a Strategy For Your Case
One major advantage of hiring legal professionals is they know how to best present your case to the SSA.
After gathering all the information about your disability, they can formulate a theory for why you are disabled. They will then use this theory to argue that:
- your condition meets a disability listing
- you cannot go back to your previous work or engage in any substantial gainful activity
- your “limitations” prevent you from working
- you cannot even do a sedentary type of work
5. Prepare You For the Hearing
Most SSA disability claims that were initially denied get approved during the appeals hearing with the administrative law judge (ALJ). The appeals hearing is most probably your only chance to briefly tell the judge why you deserve those benefits. Thus, we cannot stress the importance of coming to the hearing well-prepared.
To get you ready for the hearing, disability lawyers usually conduct a pre-hearing meeting. During this, they will go over with you some questions you’ll likely be asked during the hearing. The questions may include but not limited to:
- Describe your symptoms
- When did you first stop working?
- Can you walk up a flight of stairs or carry a gallon of water?
Since they have previous experiences with these types of hearings, they know how it usually goes. So they know what type of questions the judges usually ask and what answers they expect. You will practice answering these questions during the meeting. Not only will this boost your confidence during the meeting. It will also help you avoid saying anything that might jeopardize your claim.
6. Represent You During the Hearing
Aside from preparing you, social security disability attorneys will also represent you during the hearing.
According to the private survey we mentioned earlier, half of those with legal representation during the hearing got approved. While only 23% of those who represented themselves won the case.
With these numbers, we can conclude that you will double your chances of getting approved for benefits if you are represented by a lawyer.
7. Doesn’t Get Paid Unless You Win
If you’ve been on the fence about hiring a disability lawyer because of monetary concerns, worry not. In most states, an attorney or advocate cannot collect fees unless you win the case. The attorney’s fee will be deducted from your total benefits once it’s released. But even then, they can only charge up to 25% of your total benefits and no more than $6,000.
VICTOR MALCA LAW – A TRUSTED NAME IN FLORIDA
Victor Malca P.A. has over 25 years of litigation experience in Workers Compensation and Social Security Disability lawsuits. His experience and continued success in fighting for his clients puts among the most trusted workers’ compensation lawyers in Florida. Our area of expertise is in representing injured workers on compensation benefit cases and disabled individuals claim social security disability benefits.
Our unwavering advocacy for employee rights and privileges are recognized by our past clients across South Florida. Book a free consultation today.
About The Author
Judy Ponio is a writer for Victor Malca Law P.A. and enjoys helping people with questions about social security, workers compensation, and other serious matters involving people’s livelihood. She is not an attorney and her writing should not be considered legal advice.