Improve Your Chances with the SSA
When deciding whether to file a social security disability claim or after receiving a denial, you may consider hiring an lawyer to represent you in your claim. In fact, claimants with legal representation have much better approval rates than claimants who undertake the process themselves.
Before making the decision to get help, you will want to consider what an attorney can do for your claim that you may not be able to do on your own.
What Can A Lawyer Do For Me?
A social security disability attorney is familiar with the application process. This helps to ensure that paperwork is timely and properly filed. This is crucial, because the SSA will not hesitate to deny a claim for a technical error or a missed deadline.
Also if your attorney is willing to file all the paperwork for you can save you an enormous amount of stress. An attorney’s knowledge and familiarity with the process and the laws means that he/she knows what it takes to win a case.
Your attorney will review the evidence to determine if your case has weaknesses, and can work with you to see if those can be overcome or minimized. He/she can tell you what steps to take to strengthen your claim. Simply following all SSA instructions will not give you the strategy that an attorney can provide.
Should your social security disability claim reach the hearing level, the attorney’s role becomes even more important. Before the hearing, your attorney can review your file at the social security office, and submit any evidence that they might be missing. This is important because any evidence lacking from your file will not be considered by the administrative law judge when making a decision in your hearing.
An Attorney Can Provide Help During Your Social Security Hearing
During the hearing, your attorney can present an opening and closing statement presenting the strongest points of your case to the judge. The judge may request that your attorney question you about your disability, in which case your attorney can let you know ahead of time what he/she will ask. Even if the judge is the one asking you questions, your attorney can let you know prior to the hearing what sort of questions to expect.
Often there is a medical expert and/or a vocational expert at the hearing. Although they are considered to be independent of the SSA, their opinions regarding your abilities and limitations are oftentimes incomplete or inaccurate. This is where your attorney will play a crucial role; he/she can dispute the experts’ assessments through cross-examination.
How Do I Pay For a Lawyer?
You may want the help an attorney can provide, but wonder how you will pay for his/her services. Fortunately, you can find an attorney who collects payment only if you win your case. There is no need for you to pay any up-front costs. If you are awarded, your attorney will be entitled to 25% of your retroactive benefits (but no more than $6000), which the SSA will pay directly to your attorney. The amount of the attorney’s fee is set by the federal government. After you are approved, your attorney may ask you for reimbursement of the costs incurred throughout the life of your claim. The attorney should let you know beforehand specifically what costs you will be responsible for. No portion of your monthly checks will be paid to your attorney.
Due to the nature of the social security disability application process, it is wise to consider legal representation early on. You should weigh the importance of a timely and favorable decision against the potential cost, and seek out an experienced attorney if that is the route you decide to take.