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Should you get Help from a Disability Attorney before the Claim has been Denied?
Many times, a claimant will wait till their case has progessed to the level of a Social Security hearing before getting a qualified disability attorney to assist them with their claim. In other instances, a claimant will wait until they have received a notice of denial (officially known as a notice of disapproved claim) before getting disability representation. Neither approach is incorrect.
However, the point of this article is to point out what the advantages of having early representation on a disability case might be. So, here is a short list of considerations for those who are considering getting representation before their case is denied.
1. Many claimants who are not represented on a disability case will simply not follow through on filing the claim. In many cases, it may be due to depression or because of anxiety. In others, it may be because of comprehension or memory impairment issues. In the majority of cases, it may be due to a combination of procrastination and not wanting to believe that one's situation has finally come to the point of having to seek assistance. Having early representation can cut through this.
It used to be, going back to the last decade, that most disability lawyers and non-attorney disability representatives would not even consider assisting someone until their case had been denied at least once by the social security administration. This was not a good position to take because it meant that many claimants would be forced to "wing it". Some claimants, of course, also took the position that they should not get a lawyer too soon because they might save money. They thought, "Why should I be in the position of paying a lawyer fee when I might win on my first attempt?".
Presently, the environment for representation is different. More disability lawyers now recognize the need to provide assistance at earlier steps of the process.
This is largely because there are now so many more claims in the system and that system is "bogging down". Cases take longer, there tends to be more confusion as the social security administration makes large scale changes to how cases are considered and processed, and claimants need quicker responses from attorneys and non-attorney representatives who can make themselves available to claimants at all levels of the system, even those who have not even filed for disability but would like some advice and counsel concerning A) what to do, and B) whether or not they have a viable claim.
Is it ok for a claimant to put off representation until their claim has been denied, or until their case has moved to the hearing stage? Certainly. However, some claimants will miss certain opportunities by delaying disability representation.
This is simply a known and proven fact and, as a former disability examiner, it was very common to see cases on a weekly basis in which applicants wasted months of valuable time because A) they were doing the wrong thing and B) no one from the social security administration had bothered to advise them of what they should be doing, whereas a representative would not only have advised them but also would have performed the task for them.
2. Many claimants fail to properly follow the appeal process. In many instances, this means failing to meet appeal deadlines without being able to demonstrate good cause.
In others, it will mean filing a new claim (which is incorrect) versus filing the appropriate appeal with a social security field office. Since disability representatives take over all aspects of handling a claim from the moment a representative is designated on a form SSA-1696 (the official appointment of representative form), this mistake does not happen for represented claimants. Deadlines are also not often missed. Either mistake, of course, can have the effect of setting a case back by a factor of months.
3. Disability claimants who are not represented will often not realize how they should keep track of the status of a disability claim. Because they filed their application for disability with a local social security field office, they may believe that this is the place to call for status updates.
However, the social security office only takes the claim; it does not work on processing the claim which involves obtaining and reviewing medical evidence and having this evidence evaluated by a team of individuals including a disability examiner, a medical doctor who serves as a medical consultant for the examiner, possibly a licensed psychologist if the claim involves mental disorders or conditions, and quality control personnel who may review the decision reached by the disability examiner.
To get an update on a social security or SSI status, a claimant should contact the agency known as DDS, or disability determination services, if their claim is pending at the application level or is pending at the reconsideration level.
If the claim is pending at the hearing level, the status of the disability claim (which, in this case, would be for the scheduling of a hearing) should be obtained from the hearing office, known as ODAR, or office of disability adjudication and review. Claimants who are represented should never have to call any part of the social security administration, however, since their chosen representative will typically do this at periodic intervals.
4. Many claimants will fail to provide the information that is needed by the social security administration, and in the proper detail.
For example, social security will ask a claimant to list their medical treatment sources and work history. And claimants will comply with this but will often fail to disclose accurate dates of treatment not realizing that the social social security administration needs to uncover early dates of treatment to support the claimant's AOD, which stands for alleged onset date (essentially, the date a person claims, on a disability application, that they became disabled).
Continued at: You Cannot get a Social Security Disability or SSI Award if you don't Provide SSA what they need
Return to: Social Security Disability Resource Center, or read answers to Questions
If I Get Denied Twice For SSD or SSI Disability, What Do I Do?
What Are The Reasons For Social Security Disability Cases Being Denied?
What happens if you get denied for social security disability three times?
Why Will A Social Security Disability Application Get Denied?
How Many Times Will Social Security Disability Deny You before You Get Approved for Disability?
Can You Avoid Being Denied on a Social Security Disability or SSI Claim?
What happens if a reconsideration for Social Security Disability or SSI is denied?
What should be done if your disability is denied?
How do you appeal if you are denied for Social Security disability or SSI?
Should you get Help from a Disability Attorney before the Claim has been Denied?
Will a new diagnosis of depression help on a disability appeal after being denied on the initial application?
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