How do I get a disability lawyer to take my case?
There are some disability attorneys and representatives who are very selective about the cases they will take. However, many take your claim as long as it is evident that you have at least one medical condition, physical or mental, that satisfies the SSA definition of disability. For this to be the case, your condition must have be severe enough that it has kept you from working and earning a substantial and gainful income for no less than one full year.
Additionally, of course, you must have a record of having received both past and current medical treatment. Past treatment will document your alleged onset of disability and current treatment will show that you meet the Social Security guidelines for a disability approval as of now. If you can show these things, you will generally have no difficulty getting a disability lawyer to take your case.
That said, when a disability lawyer will take your case can be a question. Although some lawyers will take an initial disability claim, many representatives wait until a decision has been made before taking a case. The reason being that there is very little they can offer at this level of the disability process and if you are approved they will still be able to collect their representation fee if there is a back payment.
Of course, all disability claimants have their own unique medical situations and if you feel you need a representative for your initial disability claim, you should seek out their services.
All disability applicants have sixty-five days from the date of the denial notice to file their appeal. If a reconsideration appeal is filed late, you have a chance to show there was a good reason for being late. And, you may be able to continue your disability claim with a reconsideration appeal. The same cannot be said for filing your hearing appeal late. You can still submit a reason for late filing at that level, but you are unlikely to be allowed to proceed with your appeal. Administrative law judges routinely dismiss disability claims for late filing and this could have a disastrous effect on your disability claim. You will have to begin the entire disability process again with a new disability claim.
The importance of filing this appeal timely cannot be stressed enough. If your disability claim is denied, a lawyer or representative is helpful in that they will make sure all of your disability appeals are filed timely. Not only does this keep your disability claim going, but it preserves your back payment of benefits.
If you have completed your own initial disability and reconsideration appeal, it would probably be advisable to get a lawyer or representative to help you with your hearing appeal. This appeal is arguably your best chance of winning your disability benefits, therefore you should have someone who knows Social Security rules, regulations, and vocational guidelines helping you present your disability claim to an administrative law judge.
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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