Social Security Disability Claims and Disability Lawyers
It is likely that, at some point after filing a claim for social security disability (SSD) or SSI, you will benefit from seeking legal counsel or representation by a social security disability lawyer. Why? Because statistics show that the majority of cases (a whopping 70 percent) filed with social security are denied after being reviewed by the disability examiner, and only 15 percent are likely to be approved by an examiner upon request for reconsideration, or appeal. This means that the odds are very high that your case will have to be heard before a judge before it is approved (if it is approved).
After a case is denied by the state disability determination services (DDS), which decides disability cases for the social security administration, the claimant can request a disability hearing before an administrative judge. It is at this level of consideration that a disability lawyer can be most useful, even critical, to the individual applying for disability benefits.
Why? Because an experienced disability lawyer will be more knowledgeable about every aspect of the disability determination process, and thus be more competent at disputing the findings of the examiner who initially denied the claim. Few claimants with no legal background will know the ins and outs of the disability system as well as an attorney specializing in these cases, unless they have served as a disability examiner or judge themselves in the past. In fact, claimants with legal representation have been shown to win approximately 60 percent of the time, which makes the hearing the very best chance a case has for approval (if it was previously denied at the initial claim and reconsideration levels).
It is important to keep in mind that the administrative law judge acts as both an adjudicator and a representative for the social security administration. While it is expected that administrative law judges be impartial in their decisions, the dual nature of their role in disability proceedings should not be ignored. It only makes sense for a claimant to have an advocate who is at least as knowledgeable about the disability evaluation process as the judge who will ultimately decide the case.
At what point in the disability process should you find a qualified disability attorney to represent your case? Well, not every disability lawyer will take a case unless both the claim and appeal has been denied by DDS and it is necessary to appear before a judge. Some attorneys don’t take on cases until this point because they feel that there is little they can do to improve a client’s chances of approval with a DDS examiner.
It should be noted that there are also some disability lawyers who will not take a case unless they are fairly certain they can win and thus be guaranteed payment. These lawyers will screen their clients, taking only those cases that have the very best chance of winning disability benefits.
That being said, if you have filed a claim with DDS and been denied on a reconsideration appeal, you should strongly consider consulting with a disability attorney, even if you have a difficult case. There are disability lawyers out there who will take on any case, no matter what the odds are of winning at an administrative hearing, and having good legal representation could mean the difference between the approval or disapproval of your claim.
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