Hiring a Qualified Disability Lawyer in Arkansas
Claimants with representation in Arkansas tend to be approved in higher percentages, have a need for fewer appeals, and more favorable "dates of onset" (the date the disability is proven to have begun) which can result in higher back pay benefits.
Representation may be through a disability lawyer or a specialized non-attorney disability representative. Many non-attorney reps are former Social Security Administration Claims Specialists and Disability Examiners.
A qualified representative will have a knowledge of Social Security administrative law and procedures, especially with regard to how claims are approved through the Social Security listings and the medical vocational grid rules. A qualified and competent representative or lawyer will also be skilled in the ability to obtain the most relevant case evidence, analyze it correctly, and incorporate it as part of a winning strategy for a claim.
To learn about fees for representation, see: "How do disability lawyers get paid?"
If you are filing Social Security Disability (SSD) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits in Arkansas, you should realize that your chances or being approved by the Arkansas state disability determination services agency are not exactly optimal.
Over 60% of disability cases filed in Arkansas are denied each year, and those who appeal their denials generally fare even worse at the first appeal level-'more than 80% of first appeals, also called requests for reconsideration or review, are denied as well.
However, these figures are nothing out of the ordinary, and reflect similar statistics in other states across the nation: Frankly, if you file for SSD or SSI, you will most likely fail to win benefits from your state disability determination services agency, meaning you will probably be denied at the disability application and reconsideration appeal level.
Some people even (wrongly) assume that there is some written or unwritten rule within the Social Security Administration that everyone filing for disability must automatically be denied at least once. The fact is, filing for Social Security Disability or SSI in Arkansas is normally a long, drawn-out process, and although some people are approved for benefits fairly quickly (the national average to receive any decision--an approval or denial--is three to four months), most claimants will have to appeal their case not once, but twice.
If your initial application for disability benefits has been turned down, you should think about getting a disability lawyer involved in your case.
Having a disability lawyer to help you keep on top of your case can give you the edge you need to win disability benefits. A good attorney or non-attorney disability representative specializing in these cases will know exactly what medical documentation is needed to demonstrate that your condition meets the social security administration's definition of a disability, and can assist you in gathering this information to present upon appeal.
Your disability attorney or representative will also automatically be notified of upcoming deadlines that must be met in order for your case to move forward, and can help to ensure that you do not have to start all over at square one just because you failed to submit your papers on time.
In addition, if you have to file a second appeal, your case will be heard before a federal administrative law judge, or ALJ. While this is actually a good thing (judges are far more likely to grant disability to claimants than state disability examiners), it has been shown that cases presented by lawyers are up to 50% more likely to win than those in which the claimant has no legal representation.
In Arkansas, your chances of winning benefits from a disability judge will be far greater if you are represented by an experienced attorney or non-attorney rerpresntative who specializes in SSD/SSI cases. Claimants should be mindful of the fact that some attorneys do not specialize but, instead, handle a variety of types of cases, ranging from traffic to malpractice.
Social Security law is fairly complex, so attorneys who fit into this category should be avoided since they will seldom have any great familiarity with Social Security regulations, procedure, and court rulings. Non-attorney disability representatives, by contrast, know the federal system from a firsthand perspective of having worked in it, such as being former disability examiners (the author of SSDRC.com, Tim Moore is a former examiner).
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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