What is the Application Process for Social Security Disability and SSI?
How do you Win Benefits under Social Security Disability or SSI?
If I am determined disabled, how far back will Social Security pay benefits?
How do you prove your disability case if you have a mental condition?
What Can I Do to Improve My Chances of Winning Disability Benefits
Common Mistakes after Receiving a Denial of Social Security Disability or SSI Benefits
How to File for Disability - Tips for Filing
If You Get Approved For SSDI Will You Also Get Medicare?
How much does a Social Security disability attorney get paid?
Social Security Disability SSI Criteria and the Evaluation Process
How long does it take to be approved for SSI or Social Security disability?
What do you Need to Prove to Qualify for Disability Benefits?
Social Security Disability SSI and Fibromyalgia
Social Security Disability SSI and Degenerative Disc Disease
Can I Qualify For Disability and Receive Benefits based on Depression?
Answers to questions about SSD and SSI disability
What Disabilities Qualify for SSI and Social Security Disability Benefits?
Social Security Disability Status
Social Security Disability Tips — how a claim gets worked on
Social Security Disability, SSI Disability - Terms, Definitions, Concepts
Hiring a Qualified Disability Lawyer in Tennessee
How to prove you are disabled
and win disability benefits
Claimants with representation in Tennessee tend to be approved in higher percentages, have a need for fewer appeals, and more favorable "dates of onset" (the date the disability is proven to have begun) which can result in 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.
A qualified representative will have a knowledge of Social Security administrative law and procedures, especially with regard to how claims are approved through the Social Security listings and the medical vocational grid rules. A qualified and competent 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?"
Residents of Tennessee who are thinking of applying for social security disability (SSD) or supplemental security income, a.k.a. SSI benefits should take some time to consider at what point, if any, they will consult with a disability lawyer. Only about a fourth of all disability applications filed with the Tennessee disability determination services agency are approved for benefits their first time through the system. The vast majority of applicants are denied disability benefits even if they meet the most basic social security disability requirements, not only upon initial application, but also upon appeal (this first appeal is often referred to as a request for reconsideration).
If fact, only 7.9 % of disability appeals filed in Tennessee each year are successful—this grim statistic is well below the national average.
So, if you live in Tennessee, you are probably now wondering if it is even worth your time to file for SSD, and the answer to that, despite the low number of approvals, is yes. First of all, if you are suffering from a truly disabling, ongoing medical condition, you will most certainly find that at some point you will simply not be able to make ends meet. Your ability to work may have already suffered, and for this reason you should never give up on a claim if you think you will need assistance.
You should also keep in mind that, although disability determination services is not likely to grant you benefits, you do have an opportunity to file a second appeal, which is a request for a hearing before a federal administrative law judge. At this level, with good legal counsel, you stand a 60% chance of winning benefits. However, it is critical to the outcome of your case that you put your best foot forward at this hearing.
While it is true a disability judge is more likely than a disability examiner to award benefits, studies have shown that judges in disability cases tend to decide in the claimant’s favor most often when he or she has legal representation. In fact, those represented by a disability lawyer are up to 50% more likely to prevail than those who represent themselves on social security disability application.
If you are concerned about the expense involved in obtaining legal counsel, you should weigh in your mind the possible benefits of getting a disability attorney. An experienced attorney may be able to help you present a stronger case based on his or her knowledge of the disability system, and help you to gather stronger medical evidence to refute any weaknesses in you initial application that may have been used by the disability examiner as a basis for your denial.
He or she will also be used to presenting facts to a judge in a way that is both organized and well-presented—very few individuals can equal the knowledge of the disability and legal systems of a lawyer specializing in SSD/SSI cases, and so very few are able to advocate for themselves before a judge as well as an experienced attorney in these proceedings.
At any rate, the numbers indicate that getting a disability lawyer is likely to be worth the price in the end, when you are able to count on a monthly disability payment to help out in what is certain to be a time of financial need. In other words, an able lawyer may increase the chance of a social security disability approval and reduce the chance of receiving a social security disability denial letter.
Return to: SSDRC, or the Questions, Tips, Advice page
Questions and Answers about Social Security Disability and SSI Disability
SSD and SSI are Federal Programs
The title II Social Security Disability and title 16 SSI Disability programs operate under federal guidelines and, therefore, the program requirements--medical and non-medical--apply to all states:
Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Indiana, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin, Wyoming
Recent approval and denial statistics for various states can be viewed here:
Social Security Disability, SSI Approval and Denial Statistics by state
Special Section: Tips and Advice for Social Security Disability and SSI Claims