Hiring a Qualified Disability Lawyer in Oregon

Claimants who have disability representation in Oregon tend to be approved more often, with a need for fewer appeals and more favorable "onset dates" (when a person's disability is proven to have started). The earlier an onset date, of course, the higher a person's potential back pay benefits.

Social Security Representation may be provided by a disability lawyer or a specialized non-attorney disability representative. Many non-attorney representatives are former Social Security Administration personnel such as 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?"

Additional information

It is not easy getting approved for Social Security (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) disability in Oregon. Less than 30 percent of all disability applicants are awarded disability benefits with their initial disability claim, i.e. disability application.

The high rate of denial at the application level necessitates the use of appeals in most cases. Unfortunately, disability claimants cannot expect more favorable results with their first appeal, the reconsideration appeal. The reconsideration appeal approval rate in Oregon is 10.6 percent which is less than the national approval rate of 10.9 percent.

For the majority of individuals, a second appeal, a request for hearing before an administrative law judge, or ALJ, will be required in order to ultimately win benefits.

This appeal allows an unrepresented claimant, or a represented claimant and their lawyer or non-attorney representative to appear in person before the decision-maker (in this case, a federal judge instead of a disability examiner) and present a rationale for approval that is based on 1) Social Security regulations and court rulings and B) objective medical and vocational evidence. Very often, this evidence will include a statement that has been obtained from one, or several, of the claimant's treating physicians.

At the hearing level in Oregon, a claimant may have approximately a 56 percent chance of being awarded benefits. This is in line with national statistics. However, claimants who appear at a hearing unrepresented will undoubtedly have lower odds of being approved.

Prior year federal statistics have indicated that unrepresented claimants may be awarded benefits by a judge approximately 40 percent of the time while represented claimants may be awarded up to 62 percent of the time. This signifies a nearly 50 percent increase in the win ratio when comparing unrepresented and represented claimants.

Typically, representation is considered when a claimant has received their denial (on the disability application), or when it becomes necessary to request a disability hearing. However, early representation in Oregon is often beneficial for several reasons.

First of all, each disability lawyer or non-attorney representative will receive copies of all correspondence sent to the claimant by the Social Security Administration. This effectively serves as a safeguard against the possibility of missing appeal deadlines, missing appointment dates for consultative medical examinations, and even missing requests from SSA to contact them (which can, itself, result, in a denial for failure to cooperate).

Secondly, however, a proactive disability representative or attorney may be able to obtain an approval on the case without the need for a hearing, the effect of which can be to eliminate months of processing time from a disability case (requesting a hearing alone can take up to a year).

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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