Social Security Disability Definitions
Social Security Disability and SSI Overview
The Requirements for Disability
Social Security Disability and SSI Applications
Tips and Advice for Disability Claims
How long does Disability take?
Common Mistakes after Receiving a Disability Denial
Social Security Disability and SSI Denials
Social Security Disability and SSI Appeals
Social Security Mental Disability Benefits
Disability Benefits offered through Social Security
Benefits through SSI disability
Disability Benefits for Children
Disability Qualifications and How to Qualify
Social Security Disability and Working
Winning your Disability Benefits
Social Security Disability Back Pay Benefits
Social Security Disability SSI Awards and Award Notices
Disability Lawyers and Hiring an Attorney
Social Security Disability SSI List of Conditions
What is considered a Disabling condition by Social Security?
Social Security Disability SSI and Medical Evidence
Filing for Disability Benefits
Eligibility for Disability Benefits
SSDRC authored by Tim Moore
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Why do I need an attorney for Social Security disability ?
Some would say that you can take care of your own social security disability or SSI claim through all levels of the appeal process, and, of course, technically speaking, they would be correct. SSA (the social security administration) does not require a claimant to have representation at any level, even at a disability hearing or at federal district court.
Some individuals chose to appeal their own initial claim (this is the application for disability). Is this a problem? For all intents and purposes, it is not as long as you file your reconsideration request within the sixty day appeal period. Certainly, you should get started on the appeal as soon as your claim is denied.
Many individuals procrastinate and, despite the fact that SSA allows a sixty day appeal period, actually miss their deadline for submitting an appeal. When that happens, if the claimant cannot demonstrate "good cause" for a late appeal filing (in general terms, a rationale reason for a late submission which might include a medical or family emergency, or simply not having received the notice of denial in the mail and, thus, not having even been made aware of the need for an appeal), they will be forced start over with a new claim.
However, the real reason for possbily going without representation on the first appeal, i.e. the request for reconsideration, is two-fold:
1. There is often little for a disability attorney or disability representative to do on a reconsideration appeal (reconsiderations are the first appeal). The reconsideration phase is really just a rehashing of the initial disability application. Meaning that the process is identical, only handled by a different disability claim examiner, and the process is usually much shorter since most of the medical evidence that is required for the claim has already been gathered.
Having said this, though, there are a number of good disability attorneys and non-attorney claimant's representatives who strongly endeavor to win claims that are being processed at the reconsideration appeal level. And, for this reason, early representation can make a valuable difference, especially considering the fact that more than 80 percent of all reconsideration appeals are denied by disability examiners.
2. The reconsideration denial rate is absurdly high. So high, in fact, that many individuals simply assume that the reconsideration will be denied and, thus, expend very little effort on trying to win the reconsideration. It is true that reconsiderations are generally denied at a rate of between 85-87 percent.
However, this still allows some chance of being awarded benefits. It is also more likely for well-prepared cases to be won at this level. And this is where able representation can make the difference. There are a number of representatives, attorney or otherwise, who make every attempt to win cases at this level because they are full aware of the hardships that will be endured by claimants who are forced to file a request for a disability hearing and then wait many months for that hearing to be scheduled.
As was said several times, the chances of being approved on the first appeal, the reconsideration, are faily slim. The chances of being approved, however, on a disability hearing can be quite good. And this, by itself, should give every claimant full reason to follow the appeals process, so that eventually their case will be heard by an ALJ, or administrative law judge.
Why are claims more likely to be won by a claimant who has representation at a disability hearing? Social Security representatives have knowledge of the rules and regulations that govern Social Security disability and SSI.
In addition to having an expertise with the disability system, your representative does not have the emotional investment that you have in your disability claim; consequently your representative or attorney will be able to give an organized presentation of the facts of your disability claim -- your medical background, your condition and how it limits you, your work history, and the reasons why your condition limits your ability to work.
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