Will you need an attorney for disability if you have a mental condition?

While some may argue the necessity of representation on a disability claim at various points in the process, some individuals will clearly need an attorney for disability if they have a mental condition that either A. impairs their ability to comprehend the disability application process or B. impairs their ability to follow-through on applying for disability or appealing a disability denial.

Why might this be the case? In a prior post, I mentioned a situation involving a woman who had attempted to apply for disability based on depression, but had not been able to follow through and complete the necessary paperwork due to her condition. In her case, she would have benefited from early representation.

However, there are other examples of individuals with a mental condition who would have benefited from the involvement of a disability attorney.

1. Individuals with attention deficit.

2. Individuals who have suffered a stroke and have comprehension and memory deficits as a result.

3. Individuals who have conditions that may involve a mental fog, such as fibromyalgia.

4. Individuals who have low IQ, MR, or have low literacy.

5. Individuals with bipolar disorder or other mood disorders.

How will a Social Security Representative or lawyer help your claim?

Having representation can avoid situations where a case might drag on needlessly due to simple things like not returning or completing paperwork.

An attorney can substantially assist your claim by making sure that all of your appeal paperwork is filed timely and correctly. A fairly large percentage of individuals who apply for Social Security Disability or SSI either do not return their appeal forms on time, or leave out information that would be helpful to winning their case.

However, case preparation is the primary benefit of representation. And the level of the system at which most disability lawyers or Social Security representatives improve their client's chances of winning disability is the administrative law judge disability hearing.

Once you are at the hearings level, your lawyer will make an argument for approval based on your medical evidence, work history, functional limitations, educational background and age.

The "case theory" that is advanced to the administrative law judge presiding over the hearing will be based on Social Security administrative law and procedure, which includes applicability of grid framework rules (the grid rules direct decisions on the majority of claims), the code of federal regulations, the sequential evaluation process used by both examiners and judges, and the various SSRs (Social Security rulings) that may apply.

The lawyer, or representative, will attempt to secure an approval of your claim by either proving that you have a medical condition that meets a listing in the Social Security list of impairments, or by proving that your medical condition limits your functional abilities to the extent that you cannot return to any type of work activity that allows you to earn a substantial and gainful income.

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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