Hiring a Qualified Disability Lawyer in New Mexico

Claimants who are represented on disability claims in New Mexico 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?"

Additional information

If you are filing for Social Security Disability (SSD) or filing for SSI benefits in New Mexico, you may be wondering if you should hire a lawyer to represent you. The truth is, only you can make that decision, and the answer will vary, depending on your individual needs and, of course, the nature of your medical disability (some conditions, such as blindness or paralysis, impose obvious physical limitations that are likely to result in approval of benefits without legal representation of any kind).

In fact, 40.4% of residents of New Mexico are approved for SSD/SSI the first time they file for disability, and another 17.8% of disability applicants who were initially denied benefits by the New Mexico disability determination services (DDS) win benefits upon their first appeal (known as a request for a Social Security Disability review or reconsideration).

These approval rates are actually significantly higher the national average, so do applicants in New Mexico really need legal representation, and if so, when? As previously stated, it depends upon the circumstances surrounding each claim, as well as the individual involved.

The vast majority of medical conditions for which claimants seek disability benefits are not listed in the social security administration impairment manual, commonly referred to as the blue book.

While not having a condition listed in the blue book in no way prevents you from collecting disability benefits, it does make it a bit more complicated to demonstrate the nature of your medical condition, its symptoms, and how those symptoms prevent you from earning a living wage. Some people find that they are not up to the task of gathering all their medical records, meeting deadlines, compiling a detailed work history, etc., particularly if their physical or mental condition is debilitating.

A lawyer representing a disability claimant is regularly notified of all developments in the case, and will make sure that all medical and work history records are where they need to be, when they need to be there (in other words, no missed deadlines). This can be very helpful to disability claimants who, for whatever reason, are unable to advocate for themselves.

Of course, many if not most disability claimants in New Mexico find that they are able to provide all the necessary medical and work history information to disability determination services with little difficulty, and do not need a lawyer to help them stay on task.

However, even these individuals are strongly advised to seek legal counsel when both their initial disability claim and reconsideration appeal have been denied by a New Mexico disability examiner, because the next step in the process involves a hearing before an administrative law judge. In New Mexico and across the nation studies have shown that having a disability lawyer present your case to an administrative law judge significantly increases your chances of winning.

In fact, an experienced disability lawyer or non-attorney claimant's representative (non-attorney reps are often former SSA representatives of state disability examiners) can mean the difference between approval and disapproval of your claim.

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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