Do you need a lawyer for a disability hearing?
At prior steps in the social security disability - ssi evaluation process (initial claim and reconsideration or review), while some individuals may benefit from representation, having a lawyer is, nonetheless, not essential.
At the disability hearing level, however, that all changes. In other words, representation is not just advised, it can actually make for a decidely different outcome on a case.
Why is this? The simplest reason is that an unrepresented claimant is not likely to know what should be done to prepare a case prior to a hearing, nor is an unrepresented claimant likely to have any idea of how to effectively argue, within the context of social security rules and regulations, just why it is that a claim should be approved.
However, this is a second reason: you're more likely to avoid some bias on the part of the judge if your case shows at least some sign of preparation. This reason for representation may not seem quite as important as the first, and in an objective sense, it is not. However, it is a mistake to believe that social security disability and SSI disability claims are handled with complete objectivity. Because if they were, there would not be such a huge disparity in approval rates at different levels of the SSA system. Disability representatives and lawyers know full well that too many judges carry their own biases with them into hearings and one of these biases may be leveled at claimants (fair or not) who show up at hearings on their own.
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