Overview of Disability
Disability Back Pay
Requirements for Disability
Applications for disability
Tips and Advice for Disability Claims
How long does Disability take?
Winning Disability Benefits
Common Mistakes after a Denial
Mental Disability Benefits
Denials for Disability
Appeals for denied claims
Disability Benefits from SSA
Child Disability Benefits
Qualifications and How to Qualify
Working and Disability
Disability Awards and Notices
Disability Lawyers, Hiring Attorneys
Social Security List of Conditions
What Social Security considers disabling
Medical Evidence and Disability
Filing for Disability Benefits
Eligibility for Disability Benefits
SSD SSI Definitions
SSDRC authored by Tim Moore
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Hiring a Qualified Disability Lawyer in Pennsylvania
Claimants who are represented on disability claims in Pennsylvania tend to have a higher rate of approval, a need for fewer appeals, and more favorable "dates of onset" (the date the disability is proven to have begun) that lead to higher back pay benefits.
Representation may be through a disability lawyer or a specialized non-attorney disability representative. Many non-attorney reps are former Social Security Administration Claims Specialists and Disability Examiners with an extended history of working from within the federal system.
A qualified disability representative will have a knowledge of Social Security administrative law, particularly with regard to how claims are approved through the Social Security listings and the medical vocational grid rules. A qualified and competent disability representative or lawyer will also be skilled in the ability to obtain the most relevant case evidence, analyze it correctly, and incorporate it as part of a winning strategy for a claim.
To learn about fees for representation, see: "How do disability lawyers get paid?"
Getting a Pennsylvania disability lawyer involved in your case can improve your chances of being awarded disability benefits (ongoing and back pay), particularly if your case, like most of those filed in this state, is turned down by the state disability determination services agency.
The federal office of disability programs released information indicating that more than half of those who applied for social security disability (SSD) or supplemental security income (SSI) in Pennsylvania were denied disability benefits. Those who appealed the disability decision of the disability examiner by filing a request for a social security disability review or reconsideration were even less likely to be approved, with a denial rate of approximately 70 percent.
This is not surprising, given the fact that the agency reviewing the case, disability determination services, is the same agency that denied disability benefits in the first place.
If your claim for disability benefits is denied, and your reconsideration appeal fails as well, your next best step is to request a hearing before a federal administrative law judge (ALJ). It can take up to a year to have your case heard, but the outcome can be worth the wait—forty percent of claimants who have their case heard before a disability judge win benefits, the best odds for an applicant at any point in the entire disability determination process.
However, the odds of winning benefits before an ALJ are even greater when the claimant retains a lawyer specializing in SSD and SSI matters to present his or her case. The national average disability approval rate of disability claims rises from 40 to 60 percent when the claimant is represented by an experienced disability attorney, leaving little doubt that at this second appeal level a lawyer can make the difference between a loss and a win.
Given recent statistics showing the difficulty Pennsylvania residents experience in seeking disability benefits, it is strongly recommended that applicants retain legal counsel before this last, somewhat critical appeal, their chance to be heard before a federal judge.
Note: The request for reconsideration appeal step is currently suspended in the state of Pennsylvania as Pennsylvania is one of 10 prototype states testing a system in which denied claims move immediately to the hearing level upon appeal. Reconsideration may be reinstated at some point and many consider this likely. In the meantime, a claimant who is denied on a disability application should request, and prepare, for a hearing before a federal administrative law judge.
Return to: Social Security Disability Resource Center, or read answers to Questions
Information on the following topics can be found here: Social Security Disability Questions and in these subsections:
Frequently asked questions about getting Denied for Disability Benefits | FAQ on Disability Claim Representation | Info about Social Security Disability Approvals and Being Approved | FAQ on Social Security Disability SSI decisions | The SSD SSI Decision Process and what gets taken into consideration | Disability hearings before Judges | Medical exams for disability claims | Applying for Disability in various states | Selecting and hiring Disability Lawyers | Applying for Disability in North Carolina | Recent articles and answers to questions about SSD and SSI
These pages answer some of the most basic questions for individuals who are considering filing a claim.
Filing for disability - How to file for SSD or SSI and the Information that is needed by Social Security
How to Apply for Disability - What medical conditions can you apply and qualify for?
Applying for Disability - How long does it take to get Social Security Disability or SSI benefits?
What happens if I file a disability application and it is denied by a disability examiner or Judge?
How to Prove you are disabled and qualify to win disability benefits
How do you prove your disability case if you have a mental condition or impairment?
Social Security Disability Back pay and How Long it Takes to Qualify for it and receive it
Social Security Disability SSI - Eligibility Requirements and Qualifications Criteria