Will An Attorney Be More Successful On A Social Security Disability or SSI Appeal?
This question depends upon the disability claimant and the level of appeal their disability claim is at. Some disability claimants have mental or physical conditions that make it difficult for them to file their own appeals. Generally, I would say that if a disability applicant can complete their reconsideration appeal paperwork, they do not need an attorney or Social Security Disability representative. The reason being: the attorney or representative can do no more for the claimant than they can do for themselves at the reconsideration appeal level.
My opinion, however, changes if the disability claimant is not capable of completing their reconsideration appeal due some kind of mental or physical problem. If a disability claimant has a condition, or conditions, that would interfere with them being able to complete their appeal forms, they should by all means obtain the services of an attorney or Social Security Disability non-attorney representative to file their reconsideration appeal, or any other appeals that are necessary.
It has been my experience that attorneys or Social Security representatives are more successful in winning disability hearing appeals. Not only has it been my experience, but national statistics indicate that disability claimants with representation are up to fifty percent more likely to win their disability benefits at a social security hearing than those who do not have an attorney or representative.
What are the differences between reconsideration appeals and administrative law judge hearings that might enable attorneys or Social Security representatives to be more successful in winning benefits? The biggest difference is the fact that disability hearings are held in a courtroom--albeit an informal court setting--before an administrative law judge.
To that end, it is beneficial to have someone who knows the vocational rules, listing impairment criteria, and other Social Security Disability guidelines so that they can present your disability claim to an administrative law judge who is familiar with those same guidelines.
In addition to presenting your disability case in the best possible light, your attorney or representative is able to get updated medical evidence to support your disability claim.
It is true that some individuals would win their disability benefits at a disability hearing not matter what based strictly on the medical information in the file; however, there are many others for which an attorney or representative might be able to gather and present information that could make the difference between an approval or denial. If you have to appeal your disability claim to an administrative law judge hearing, you should most certainly consider representation.
About the Author: Tim Moore is a former Social Security Disability Examiner in North Carolina, has been interviewed by the NY Times and the LA Times on the disability system, and is an Accredited Disability Representative (ADR) in North Carolina. For assistance on a disability application or Appeal in NC, click here.
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