Should I get a lawyer for my disability case?
This is a question that many people ask themselves when they are considering a disability claim. Most know that lawyers may help win disability claims, however most do not when or if they should hire a lawyer for their own disability claims.
The answer to this question can be different for disability applicants. For example, if you are filing for disability on the basis of a terminal condition or your disabling condition is on the list of compassionate disability allowances (you can find the list on ssa.gov), you most definitely do not need a lawyer to win your disability case.
Additionally, if you require chronic dialysis, you do not need a lawyer to win your case, as it is an automatic allowance for disability.
In fact, for most disability applicants I suggest that you file a disability claim without representation to see if the merits of your disability claim are enough for an approval. I might even suggest that you file your own reconsideration appeal prior to getting the services of a lawyer.
There really is no sense in giving up any of your potential back pay of disability benefits and you would have to pay your representation fee whether the lawyer actually helped win your case or not.
Of course, there are always exceptions to this advice. If you are not able to complete the disability application by phone, online, or in person, you may need the help of a lawyer to make sure your disability claim is filed and any future appeals are filed timely.
I know personally of one situation where a highly intelligent computer engineer was denied after filing a disability claim online but failed to file the disability appeal within the 60 day deadline. This occurred because the individual assumed that since he did not finish the online application (he spent too much time trying to reconstruct his medical history) that the denial was in error.
In truth, he had been denied and, due to a bad assumption, had not filed a timely appeal. Outcome: he had to start over with a new claim and had basically wasted about 5 months of processing time. Though this individual was educated and intelligent, his poor assumption disadvantaged him and he would have benefited from simply having a disability lawyer handle his case.
If your disability claim is not approved at the initial or reconsideration level of the disability process, it is definitely time to consider the services of a competent Social Security lawyer who is familiar with Social Security Disability case law and medical vocation guidelines.
If you have not been approved prior to a hearing, your case is not a clear approval for disability. You will need a lawyer to argue the facts of your disability case in a way that is favorable to your winning your disability case. You are simply more likely to be approved at a disability hearing if you have 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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