Hiring a Qualified Disability Lawyer in California
Claimants who are represented on disability claims in California tend to have a higher rate of approval, a need for fewer appeals, and more favorable "dates of onset" (the date the disability is proven to have begun) that lead to 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 with an extended history of working from within the federal system.
A qualified disability representative will have a knowledge of Social Security administrative law, particularly with regard to how claims are approved through the Social Security listings and the medical vocational grid rules. A qualified and competent disability 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?"
California applicants for Social Security Disability (SSD) or supplemental security income (SSI) should consider obtaining disability representation, if not at the initial application stage, then certainly at the appeals level of consideration.
Federal statistics have shown that more than 69 percent of all applications to the California state disability determination services agency (DDS is the state-level agency that renders disability claim determinations for the Social Security Administration) are denied, and less than 20 percent of claimants are likely to be approved on the first appeal, the request for reconsideration.
While these odds may leave individuals wondering if it is even worth filing for SSD or SSI benefits in California, it is important to keep in mind that the majority of disability claims are eventually approved, particularly when the case is heard before an administrative law judge at a hearing (the second appeal level) where the rate of approval improves substantially.
In fact, more than sixty percent of all disability applicants that appear before an administrative disability judge are approved; if the claimant has representation by either a disability lawyer or a non-attorney disability representative, the chances of approval are likely to exceed this percentage.
An experienced disability representative or disability attorney can help present your case for disability in the strongest light possible, and present your medical documentation in a way that is most likely to persuade a judge that your medical condition is truly disabling and ongoing, or unlikely to improve over the next twelve months.
Note: To satisfy the SSA definition of disability, a claimant must have at least one condition that is considered disabling and which lasts for at least 12 full months while preventing them from being able to engage in substantial and gainful work activity.
Given the fact that so many Social Security Disability and SSI applicants in California are initially rejected, you should prepare yourself for the likelihood that it will be necessary to file at least one appeal before you are approved for benefits (assuming that you are approved for them).
Representation by an experienced disability lawyer or non-attorney representative may significantly improve your chances of winning your case, particularly if your first appeal fails and you request a hearing before an administrative law judge (your second, and, in most cases, best chance to appeal if your claim is denied).
How does a disability lawyer or disability representative improve the odds of winning a claim? The representative will review the claimant's file to learn the basis of the prior denials, what evidence was considered, what evidence may have been missed, and whether or not the previous decision makers (disability examiners at both levels) may have misidentified the claimant's past work history, misjudged the claimant's transferrable work skills, or misapplied a medical-vocational rule that would affect the outcome of the claim.
Additionally, a representative will try to obtain medical evidence that supports a "finding of disabled"; specifically, objective medical evidence that either proves that the claimant has a medical condition that satisfies a "listing" (in the Social Security list of impairments), or medical evidence that proves that the claimant has physical or mental functional limitations that rule out a return to work activity.
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 SSDRC.com
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?
Filing for disability in California
How do I Apply for Disability Benefits in California
How long should you wait before you apply for disability?
SSD and SSI applications in California
What do you do if your California disability claim is denied?
Do you file for your children when you apply for disability in California?
Should you apply for disability in California after a denial?
How long does a disability case take in California
After you file for disability in California
Filing for disability in California and your condition
Filing a disability claim in California, long filing process
The California disability process
Do I need to be disabled a year in California to get disability?
The Social Security Disability process in California
California Disability determination process
Disability approval criteria in California
California Social Security Disability decisions
Steps to Win Social Security Disability benefits in California
Questions about disability in California
How much can you make in California and still apply for disability?
California Social Security Back Pay
Can Disability benefits be garnished in California?
Disability two year medicare waiting period in California
California review of Social Security Disability claim
California Social Security Disability status
VA disability and California Social Security Disability
Can a Congressman in California help on a disability case
How do examiners make disability decisions in California?
Applying for disability benefits in California
How long does disability take in California?
How long does it take to get a decision on a disability case in California?
Why do disability claims take so long in California?
How Long Will It Take To Get My Disability Decision If I Appeal in California?
Disability claims in California with certain conditions
Applying For Disability On the Basis of Back Pain in California
Filing for Disability with Fibromyalgia in California
Social Security Disability For Mental Illness in California
Winning California disability
Will a lawyer improve the chance to win disability in California?
Getting approved for disability in California
Winning disability in California
California Disability Lawyers and Representation
Getting a disability attorney in California
Finding a new disability attorney in California
Applying for SSI in California
Filing for SSI disability in California
SSI disability denied in California
Are SSI claims in California denied more than SSDI claims?
How to apply for SSI Disability in California
Doctors, medical records, and medical exams
Doctors and applying for disability in California
Can you be turned down for disability in California if your doctor says you are disabled?
Disability hearings in California
Disability Hearings in California
California quick disability hearing
How do I win my Social Security Disability Hearing in California?
How long does it take to get a disability hearing in California?
Disability denials in California
Disability Denied in California
If a disability claim is denied in California
Appealing a Social Security Disability denial in California
If you get denied Social Security Disability in California
Why are Most Disability Cases Denied in California?
Getting approved or denied for disability in California
Disability appeals in California
How do you file a disability appeal in California?
How many disability appeals do you get in California?
If your California disability appeal is denied, can you get another appeal?
If your disability reconsideration is denied in California
Filing a reconsideration appeal in California
Why was I denied disability in California?
Qualifying for disability in California
Qualifying for disability in California
Qualify for SSD in California
Will I Qualify For Disability Benefits in California?
Disability lawyers in California
Using a Social Security Disability Attorney in California
Cost of a California disability attorney
Why do disability lawyers in California sometimes not take cases?
Hiring a Disability Lawyer in California
Social Security Disability Attorney Fees In California
How do Disability Lawyers in California get paid their fees?
Should you get a disability lawyer before you get denied in California?
Lawyer for a disability hearing in California
Why was I denied disability in California?