Hiring a Qualified Disability Lawyer in Mississippi
Claimants who are represented on disability claims in Mississippi 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?"
People filing for disability in Mississippi are less likely to win their case than most people across the country.
In recent years, only 27.2% of Social Security Disability (SSD) and supplemental security income (SSI) disability claims filed in Mississippi were denied by the Mississippi state disability determination services agency were approved. This is well below the national average. Only about 7 percent of all disability appeals (also called a request for review or reconsideration) filed in Mississippi are successful.
In fact, Mississippi has one of the lowest disability approval ratings of all the states. Given these statistics, it's a near certainty that if you file for SSD or SSI benefits in Mississippi you will be turned down by the state disability examiner not once but twice. It is highly likely that, in order to win your case, you will have to file a second appeal, which involves a request to appear before a federal administrative law judge (ALJ). You definitely want to get a good disability attorney to represent you at this proceeding.
Mississippi disability applicants stand their best chance of winning benefits from an ALJ. Nationwide, studies have shown that about 40 percent of all cases heard before an ALJ are approved, and those who wish to increase their chances even more would be wise to get a disability attorney to present their case before the judge'disability cases are up to 50 percent more likely to result in a favorable decision when they are presented by an attorney.
In fact, since the climate in Mississippi is so unfavorable to those seeking disability, it is really a necessity to have legal counsel at this level of consideration, if not sooner in the process.
A good disability attorney or non-attorney claimant representative (non-attorney reps are often former employees of the social security administration [SSA] who know the disability determination process inside out) will review your case, determine what medical documentation or tests should be provided to the disability examiner or judge to demonstrate that your physical or mental condition is ongoing and truly disabling, and can help gather the physician notes or records needed to bolster your case.
Some disability attorneys will not take on a disability case in its early stages, and will only get involved if the case is due to appear before a judge. There are others, however, who will stay with a claimant from start to finish, and if you live in Mississippi, you may want to consider retaining, or at least consulting with a disability attorney at the outset of your case.
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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