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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What does a disability lawyer in Pennsylvania do to help a claim?
Your disability lawyer or non-attorney disability representative (many of whom are former SSA field office workers or former disability examiners) will file all of your appeal paperwork for you, ensuring that it will be done in a timely manner, and done correctly. An obvious advantage of this, of course, is that you will not have to start the disability process again because of a late filing.
Late appeals--meaning appeals that are submitted after the end of the disability appeal period, which is 60 days from the date of the previous denial--happen in an unacceptably high percentage of claims. When claimants in Pennsylvania are represented, their representative will receive copies of all notices that are mailed out by the Social Security Administration. This tends to dramatically reduce the opportunity for missing appeal deadlines.
Additionally, your lawyer or representative gathers medical record updates and physician's statements so that they may be used to present your case to the administrative law judge. Medical record updates are crucial at disability hearings because once a case is decided at the level before the hearing level, the reconsideration appeal stage, the Social Security Administration no longer gathers records for a case.
Translation: once a disability hearing is requested in Pennsylvania, complete responsibility for getting medical evidence falls to the claimant and/or their disability lawyer or disability representative. If a claimant is not aware of this fact and is not represented on their claim, they may very well show up at a hearing with nothing to substantiate their claim, other than medical records that are months out of date.
One of the most important aspects of medical evidence is getting a qualified statement from a claimant's doctor, known as a medical source statement, or an RFC form. This type of statement tends to be given significant consideration by an administrative law judge and can be crucial to winning a claim. However, most unrepresented claimants would be unaware of this, or would simply think that a short, handwritten note from their doctor would suffice, which is not the case at all.
Once you are at the hearings level, your lawyer will make an argument for approval based on your medical evidence, work history, functional limitations, educational background and age.
The "case theory" that is advanced to the administrative law judge presiding over the hearing will be based on Social Security administrative law and procedure, which includes applicability of grid framework rules (the grid rules direct decisions on the majority of claims), the code of federal regulations, the sequential evaluation process used by both examiners and judges, and the various SSRs (Social Security rulings) that may apply.
The lawyer, or representative, will attempt to secure an approval of your claim by either proving that you have a medical condition that meets a listing in the Social Security list of impairments, or by proving that your medical condition limits your functional abilities to the extent that you cannot return to any type of work activity that allows you to earn a substantial and gainful income.
In other words, your lawyer will present all of this information in an objective and logical fashion in an effort to win an approval based upon the medical and vocational rules which govern the Social Security disability program.
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