Hiring a Qualified Disability Lawyer in Florida
Disability representation, i.e. getting a lawyer or representative, is always optional. However, claimants who are represented on disability claims for SSI and SSD in Florida 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.
1. Questions about using a disability lawyer
2. More questions and answers about disability lawyers
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?"
If you are applying for Social Security Disability (SSD) or SSI in Florida, the odds of winning benefits are fairly slim. Only about 31% of disability applicants in Florida are approved for SSD/SSI, and those who appeal their cases are even less likely to prevail'about 81% of first appeals to the Florida state Social Security Disability determination services agency are denied each year.
These statistics are in keeping with the national average, though. It is well-known throughout every state of the country that most applications for disability are denied'in fact, initial claims for disability are denied so regularly, a common misconception has developed that there is an unwritten policy in the Social Security Administration (SSA), which dictates that all claims be denied at least once before they are approved.
While SSA has no such policy, written or unwritten, it is easy to see why the general public has reached this conclusion, given that so many Social Security Disability examiners deny claims that are later approved by an administrative law judge in a disability hearing (if the applicant is persistent and doesn't give up, that is).
Of course, these bleak statistics in no way mean that your represented by a disability lawyer are more likely to be approved, and some judges even advise claimants who show up to their hearing without a lawyer of their right to legal representation before the proceedings begin (Hint Hint!).
At every level of consideration in the disability determination process, having a lawyer or non attorney rep involved can improve your chances of being approved for benefits, or at the very least make the process easier for you average individual, who probably does not have a full understanding of the type of evidence or documentation that must be provided to the judge in order to meet the legal definition of disability.
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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