Friday, July 27, 2007

Disability Lawyers for Social Security Claims

I came across an article written by an attorney who once handled, but no longer handles, social security disability and SSI disability cases for claimants in the Wilmington, Delaware area. It made a number of noteworthy points that I'd like to comment on.

1. Not every disability lawyer will choose to take every possible case. Some disability lawyers are more discriminating than others, choosing to shoot for, for lack of a better phrase, "a caseload of slam-dunks". And some disability lawyers would simply prefer to wait until a claim has been denied before providing representation. The reasoning for this may vary from "There's not much I can do to help until you've denied and, if you win, I wouldn't want to charge you a fee for doing basically little or nothing" to "I prefer to heavily screen my cases and take only the ones with the best chances of winning".

2. The administrative law judge who serves as the adjudicator at a disability hearing is in the unusual position of acting--since the social security administration does not have an attorney of its own participating in the process---as both A. the decision-maker and B. a representative of the social security administration. The nature of this role, of course, makes it essential that, now and in the future, administrative law judges retain their ability to act as impartial adjudicators on social security disability claims.

3. A disability claimant with representation will find himself, or herself, in a more favorable position at a disability hearing simply because a claimant will know nothing about the actual disability evaluation process. Even a claimant who has decided to research the process will know little to nothing about the process, simply due to this fact: unless a person has actually served as an adjudicator (a disability examiner or a disability judge) or as a claimant's representative, they will have no real insight into what is truly needed to successfully argue for an approval, let alone make any arguments regarding poor adjudication of the claim at earlier levels (i.e. pointing out the mistakes made by social security at the initial claim or reconsideration levels).

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