Can disability claims be approved at the reconsideration appeal with an attorney?
A Social Security Disability or SSI claim can be approved on a reconsideration appeal with or without an attorney. Typically, whether or not a person has representation at this level will make very little difference. That's because when a representative is involved in a case, the bulk of what they will do occurs at the hearing level.
A disability lawyer at the hearing or a non-attorney representative at the hearing will obtain a claimant's medical records.
Note: Social Security also gathers records but stops doing this once a claim gets past the reconsideration appeal level. Which means that claimants who get to hearings unaware of this fact will have very outdated medical records in their file and practically no chance of winning unless they or a disability representative, such as a lawyer or non-attorney, has gotten the most recent record medical records to add to the file.
A disability lawyer or non-attorney representative will also usually attempt to get one or more statements from an individual's doctor or doctors. These statements are known as medical source statements or residual functional capacity forms.
Social Security uses an RFC form to indicate the ways in which a person is affected by their medical conditions, be they physical or mental. And the medical source statement that is obtained by a disability attorney serves the same purpose at a disability hearing before an administrative law judge. Very often, the medical source statement provides what is needed to prove that the individual is disabled according to the SSA rules and definition of disability.
There are many cases in which a disability representative will do substantial work at the reconsideration appeal level. But in other cases, a disability representative will do relatively little at this stage of the process. Simply because there really isn't much to do. The reconsideration appeal is mainly just a quick rehashing of the disability application. Not much is new, either to do or consider.
All this said, many individuals will still benefit from getting representation before the disability hearing level simply for one reason. That reason is that most reconsiderations (over 80 percent) are usually denied; therefore one might as well be represented and ready to have their representative request a disability hearing.
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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