Should you get representation for a disability hearing? Absolutely, Yes
If you have not gotten representation for your disability hearing, you may be wondering what advantage a representative can give your disability claim.
If both your initial disability claim and reconsideration appeal have been denied, it means a couple of things.
First of all, neither of the disability examiners at the disability application and reconsideration levels felt that the medical evidence allowed for the case to be approved on the basis of a listing.
Furthermore, an analysis of the work history and medical evidence concluded that the claimant could either go back to their past work, or could do some type of other work.
This is not unusual, of course. The majority of claims are denied at each level. By the time a case gets to a hearing, however, there is usually more medical evidence (gathered by the disability attorney) for the judge to see versus what the disability examiners had AND there is often an objective medical source statement for the judge to read (also obtained by the disability attorney).
Much of what a disability representative does will involve gathering additional evidence. And unless your disability claim has new evidence to support a finding of disability, your disability hearing may probably in another denial as well.
Congressional statistical data suggests that disability claims with representation are more likely to result in an approval of disability than disability claims without representation.
There are several reasons for this. We've already mentioned medical evidence and statements from doctors. It should also be said, though, that disability representatives are considerably more familiar with Social Security law and vocational guidelines than an average disability applicant.
The use of this knowledge is used to assemble what is known as a theory of the case, i.e. the rationale for why a claim should be approved, either approved through a disability listing, or approved on the basis of a specific medical vocational grid rule.
However, a final reason for getting representation for a claim that is to be decided at a disability hearing is'that no one should ever represent themselves. This seems to be to a tried and true rule that pertains to every area of law, thus the saying "He who represents himself has a fool for an attorney". That saying is based on keen observation that individuals who act as their own lawyer tend to lose more often than not.
In the area of Social Security law and regulation, it should be pointed out that 1. Judges at hearings are sometimes swayed by the reasoning of the claimant's representative (this often happens when a vocational expert is cross-examined by an attorney) and 2. Judges do not have time to school unrepresented claimants on concepts and terms that are specific to Social Security Disability and SSI.
So, should you get representation for a disability hearing? Absolutely, yes.
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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