Should I have to go to court or get a Lawyer to get approved for Social Security Disability or SSI?

I have paid into the disability system through my fica taxes. And I did not want to file for disability but it's not like I have a choice. I don't understand why I should have to be in the position of getting a lawyer or having to go to court to get my disability benefits started when it's clear that I can no longer work.

Unfortunately, the majority of individuals filing for disability will be denied and will find it necessary to file one or more appeals (usually the reconsideration request and the ALJ hearing). That is not always the case, but approximately 70 percent of initial claims are denied and approximately 85 percent of reconsiderations are denied.

Because this is true, claimants are put in the position of having to prove that their condition is severe enough to satisfy the SSA standard of disability.

An attorney is not required at the disability application or reconsideration appeal levels, and, in fact, representation is not a requirement at any level of the system, even federal district court. That said, representation at the first two levels of the system offers several benefits:

1. SSA must keep your attorney "in the loop" so that you can be properly advised at key points in your case, e.g. should a less-than-favorable ruling be appealed?; or should an amended onset date be accepted. This means that the representative will receive copies of all correspondence (you should still notify them if you receive a notice of decision) and also means that Social Security will obtain permission from the representative if they need to contact you directly.

2. A representative will ensure that your appeals are filed timely. Many individuals would be amazed at how often claimants either give up on pursuing their claim, or fail to file an appeal by the required deadline, forcing them to start the process from scratch (unless they can show good cause for submitting a late appeal).

3. A proactive representative may be able to get a case won without the need for a hearing by obtaining strong supportive statements from treating physicians.

4. A representative will keep SSA advised of changes, such as medical treatment information.

5. A representative will conduct periodic status checks on the case (very important since it is not unusual for paperwork to not arrive at its intended destination and for cases to simply fall through the cracks).

At the hearing, however, it is really just foolish to go unrepresented. 99 percent of claimants will have zero understanding of how to prepare for a hearing. And as was said, some claimants will benefit from early representation, particularly if you consider how many claimants end up missing deadlines to file appeals.

Some will wonder how an appeal deadline can be missed when SSA gives the claimant 2 full months plus an additional five days to file the appeal, but my theory on this is that many claimants find the thought of pursuing the claim depressing and maybe even overwhelming. More so if the case has been denied a second time. Which is why it is so very important to inform claimants of the basic facts.

70 percent of all applications ARE denied. 85 percent of all reconsideration appeals ARE denied. These are the odds and claimants who understand this can take the viewpoint that if you they don't approved for benefits initially, they should continue to pursue the case simply because the odds of approval will eventually fall in their favor.

Forty percent of unrepresented claimants will typically be approved by an administrative law judge at a hearing while represented claimants can boost this statistic to over 60 percent (62 percent acccordingly to a federal statistic several years ago).

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.

Most popular topics on

Social Security Disability in North Carolina

Common Mistakes to avoid after being denied for Disability

Tips to Prepare for Filing for Social Security Disability or SSI

Advice to Win SSD and SSI Benefit Claims

Social Security Disability SSI Questions

What is the difference between Social Security Disability and SSI?

How to get disability for depression

Getting disability for fibromyalgia

SSI disability for children with ADHD

What is the Application Process for Social Security Disability and SSI?

Social Security Disability SSI Exam tips

More Social Security Disability SSI Questions

What makes you eligible for Social Security Disability or SSI?

Related pages:

What does a Social Security Disability Attorney or Representative do for your claim?
Getting a Social Security Disability Attorney or Representative for your case
How will an attorney help me win disability benefits?
Disability Lawyers, Medical Records, and Social Security Hearings
What Expenses Will A Social Security Attorney Charge In Addition To The Fee?
Can a disability attorney speed up my disability hearing case?
Should you get a Disability Lawyer before you File for Disability, or get an answer on your claim?
Using a lawyer for a Social Security Disability, SSDI, case