Social Security Disability Resource Center
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Hiring a Qualified Disability Lawyer in Minnesota
Individuals with disability claims in Minnesota who are represented tend to have higher rates of approval, need fewer appeals, and acheive more favorable "dates of onset" (the date the disability is proven to have begun) which may to higher back pay benefits.
Representation may be provided 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?"
If you are filing for social security disability (SSD) or SSI benefits in Minnesota, the good news is that you are statistically more likely to win benefits than applicants in most other states: more than 40% of all disability applicants in Minnesota are approved by the Minnesota disability determination services (DDS is the state-level agency that makes disability determinations for the Social Security Administration on title II SSD and title 16 SSI disability claims).
This, of course, still means that the majority of applicants will be denied on their initial claim, forcing them to either give up on their claim, file a brand new claim, or enter the appeals process.
Note: in very few circumstances will it be beneficial for a claimant to start with a brand new claim. This is true for a variety of reasons but a very compelling one is that starting with a new claim and application date--essentially giving up one's appeal rights--can have the effect of losing eligiblity for months of disability back pay benefits. In nearly all cases, it will be to the claimant's benefit to file an appeal.
If your case is denied at the initial claim, or aplication level, the first appeal will be a request for reconsideration. According to recent statistics, the chances of being awarded benefits at the reconsideration level were less than 20 percent, or 18.8 % to be exact.
These figures are better than the national average; however, the fact remains that social security disability applicants in Minnesota will generally be denied at the disability application and reconsideration appeal levels, necessitating the need to file the second appeal: a request for hearing before an administrative law judge.
An ALJ hearing typically offers claimants the greatest opportunity for being approved. In Minnesota, approximately 55 percent of all hearings are approved by judges. The percentage of cases won, however, increases when representation is involved on a claim. This is due to several reasons, perhaps the most important being that a representative--a disability lawyer or non-attorney disability representative--will engage in the proper preparation for a hearing.
Proper preparation will include the following:
1. Reviewing the case file -- This is to see why the claim was previously denied, what the basis for prior decisions was, whether or not the initial claim or reconsideration-level disability examiner made an error in deciding the case, and whether or not medical or vocational evidence was considered properly, or not considered at all.
2. Gathering updated medical evidence - This is done because, although the Social Security Administration will gather medical records for a claimant's case at the first two levels of the system, SSA will not do any case development once the case proceeds to the hearing level. At that point, case development becomes the sole responsibility of the claimant, or their disability attorney or representative.
Obtaining the proper medical evidence is crucial at all levels of the disability evaluation system. However, it is particularly important at the hearing level since a claimant will be allowed to interact with the decision-maker on their claim (the administrative law judge) and present a rationale for the case being approved.
A disability attorney or non-attorney will attempt to obtain a) recent evidence (for a claimant to be approved for monthly ongoing benefits, they must present medical evidence that confirms that they are currently disabled), b) older evidence that establishes when the individual became disabled, and c) evidence that illustrates the severity of the individual's functional limitations.
Most disability lawyers and non-attorney disability representatives in Minnesota will also attempt to obtain an objective supporting statement from one of the claimant's treating physicians, defined by SSA as a medical doctor who has a history of providing treatment to the claimant and, therefore, is qualified to issue a statement concerning their prognosis and limitations (which translates into their ability or inability to work).
Should a disability lawyer or representative be obtained only for a hearing, or for earlier levels on a disability claim? There is no standard rule as to when a representative should be sought. However, it makes sense to consider representation after the first denial because a second denial usually occurs and that leads to a disability hearing. Appearing before a federal disability judge unrepresented is seldom a good idea and generally handicaps a claim, often significantly since most claimants will be unfamiliar with Social Security administrative law and procedure.
As to whether or not early representation on a claim in Minnesota should be sought, many claimants will benefit when their chosen attorney or representative is able to win the case at the disability application or reconsideration appeal level, thus eliminating the need for a hearing. This can save many months of case processing time that would ordinarily be consumed simply waiting for a hearing to be scheduled, which, needless to say, can be financially devastating for most disability claimants who have no available source of income.
Social Security Disability and SSI Resource Center
The Most Basic questions about Getting Disability Benefits
Social Security Disability and SSI Back Pay Benefits
Social Security Disability SSI and whether or not you can work
How long does it take for Social Security Disability or SSI?
Social Security Disability SSI Awards and Award Notices
Tips, Mistakes, How to Qualify, and How to Win Disability
Tips and Advice for Social Security Disability and SSI Claims
Common Mistakes to avoid after being denied for Disability
Disability Qualifications and How to Qualify for Disability Benefits
Winning Social Security Disability or SSI, How to Win
Denials, Appeals, and Getting a Disability Lawyer or Representative
What you should know about Social Security Disability and SSI Denials
Social Security Disability and SSI Appeal Process - How to file appeals
Questions about Disability Lawyers and Hiring a Disability Attorney
Various Types of Benefits including SSI, Mental, and Child benefits
SSI Disability Benefits, Questions and Answers
Social Security and SSI based on Mental Disability
Social Security Disability or SSI Benefits for Children
Disability Benefits through Social Security
Information to start with regarding Disability Claims
An Overview of Social Security Disability and SSI
What is considered a Disabling condition by Social Security?
The Disability Requirements to be eligible for SSD and SSI Benefits
Filing for Social Security Disability or SSI Benefits
Social Security Disability and SSI Applications
Social Security Disability SSI List of Conditions and Impairments
Social Security Disability SSI: Medical Evidence and Records
Filing your claim for disability benefits
Eligibility for receiving disability benefits
Resources on this site
Social Security Disability, SSI Terms and Definitions
Previously answered questions regarding SSD and SSI
About the Author of SSDRC, Tim Moore
The SSDRC Disability Blog
For Individuals living in North Carolina
Disability in North Carolina
North Carolina Disability Lawyer
Getting disability in North Carolina
Information on the following topics can be found here: Social Security Disability Questions and in these subsections:
Frequently asked questions about getting Denied for Disability Benefits | FAQ on Disability Claim Representation | Info about Social Security Disability Approvals and Being Approved | FAQ on Social Security Disability SSI decisions | The SSD SSI Decision Process and what gets taken into consideration | Disability hearings before Judges | Medical exams for disability claims | Applying for Disability in various states | Selecting and hiring Disability Lawyers | Applying for Disability in North Carolina | Recent articles and answers to questions about SSD and SSI
These pages answer some of the most basic questions for individuals who are considering filing a claim.
Filing for disability - How to file for SSD or SSI and the Information that is needed by Social Security
How to Apply for Disability - What medical conditions can you apply and qualify for?
Applying for Disability - How long does it take to get Social Security Disability or SSI benefits?
What happens if I file a disability application and it is denied by a disability examiner or Judge?
How to Prove you are disabled and qualify to win disability benefits
How do you prove your disability case if you have a mental condition or impairment?
Social Security Disability Back pay and How Long it Takes to Qualify for it and receive it
Social Security Disability SSI - Eligibility Requirements and Qualifications Criteria