Hiring a Qualified Disability Lawyer in Hawaii
Claimants with representation in Hawaii 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?"
Nationally, most people who file for Social Security (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) disability are denied. In Hawaii, the number of initial disability claims approved for disability benefits exceeds the national average. In fact, Social Security Disability examiners approve about thirty five percent of their initial disability claims compared to a national approval rate of thirty two percent.
However, while more residents of the state of Hawaii are approved at the initial claim level versus other states, the majority are still denied for disability. Naturally, you can appeal your disability claim denial. Unfortunately, your chances of qualifying for disability benefits do not improve with your reconsideration appeal in Hawaii, or any other state.
More than twenty-two percent of all reconsideration appeals are approved in Hawaii, which makes Hawaii one of the most favorable states for an approval for benefits at the reconsideration level. Still, the vast majority of reconsideration appeals'approximately 78 percent, are denied.
Filing for disability with the Social Security Administration can be very difficult. Generally, it takes a considerable amount of time to be awarded disability benefits, with no guarantee of being approved for disability benefits at all.
Most individuals who file for disability are looking at three or four months for their initial disability decision (meaning the decision on their application for disability). If they file a reconsideration appeal, they will typically wait another sixty days for that decision, and if this appeal is denied they may wait a year or more simply to be scheduled for a disability hearing.
While there are a few disability claimants who are approved for disability benefits quickly, most will have to pursue the Socials Security appeal process. Although, it takes many months to get a disability hearing, the administrative law judge offers your best chance of being awarded benefits.
This seems especially true in Hawaii where the disability hearing approval rate is sixty-nine percent. The national Social Security Disability hearing approval rate is only fifty'six percent, so you have substantially better odds of winning your disability claim in Hawaii.
If you reside in Hawaii, you may wish to consider the services of professional representative if you have to appeal your disability claim. The process is difficult at best even in a state where you are more likely to win your case at all levels. It take a long time to get your disability case before an administrative law judge, so it may be beneficial to have someone who is familiar with Social Security medical and vocational guidelines to present your case.
Social Security Disability hearings are considered a non-adversarial; however your disability case must be supported by objective medical evidence that would suggest 'a finding of disabled. Your representative will get the necessary medical evidence to support your disability claim; they will also go with you to your disability hearing. For most disability applicants, this relieves the stress of going to a hearing before a judge with no idea as to what information is necessary to win the case.
Your representative will present the facts of your disability claim in a way that is most favorable for your disability case. Congressional statistical data indicates that disability claims with representation are more likely to be approved for disability benefits.
As stated above, this individual may be a non-attorney disability representative or a disability lawyer. Many non-attorneys are former employees of the Social Security Administration, or are former disability examiners such as the author of SSDRC.com, Tim Moore.
The main point, however, is that whoever is chosen to handle a disability claim should specialize in Social Security administrative law. This is always the case with non-attorneys; however, disability attorneys often handle a variety of legal cases (criminal, workman's comp, speeding tickets) and so never develop an indepth understanding of the complexity of the Social Security system.
A disability case is much more easily won when a claimant's representative is qualified in the sense that they are familiar with federal rulings and regulations and focus exclusively on Social Security claims. However, their level of expertise is enhanced when they have formerly worked from within the disability system.
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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