Hiring a Qualified Disability Lawyer in Utah

Claimants with representation in Utah 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?"

Additional information

Residents of Utah who file for disability are less likely to win Social Security Disability benefits than applicants in other states. In Utah, only 30.2% of Social Security Disability (SSD) and social security income (SSI) applicants are awarded disability each year, and the number of appeals that succeed in this state is even further below the average national rate of approval. Less than one in 10 of those who appeal a decision made by a Utah state disability examiner succeed in winning benefits.

With statistics like that, it's probably a good idea to get a disability lawyer involved in your case as soon as you receive word that your initial claim has been denied. For one thing, it is highly unlikely that a claim that was previously denied by the state disability determination services agency will be approved upon appeal without some new medical evidence to consider.

Let's not forget that the agency reviewing the case is the same agency that denied it in the first place. An experienced disability lawyer will review your case, direct you to take any additional medical tests that may be needed to prove your disability, and request records from physicians as needed.

In Utah, a lawyer representing a disability applicant will automatically receive updates from social security in the case as well, and will make sure that all forms and additional information arrive at the social security administration office within the required deadlines. This is especially important when it comes to filing a reconsideration appeal'if you do not have your request for reconsideration in to the office within 60 days, your disability appeal is automatically denied and you must start all over again with a new claim.

Surprisingly, a large number of disability claimants miss this deadline, delaying a final decision in their case for several months, and so this is one very important way in which a disability lawyer can make sure your disability claim keeps moving through the system.

If your reconsideration appeal is denied, you will definitely need some kind of legal counsel to represent you at your second appeal, which will be decided, not by a state disability examiner, but by a federal administrative law judge. It is at this proceeding that you have the best chance of winning disability'40% of all disability applicants who appear before a judge are approved for benefits. However, the rate of approval jumps to 60% when the claimant is represented by a disability attorney'judges appear to be significantly more receptive to appeals arguments when they are presented by a legal professional rather than by a disability claimant.

It can be a long wait to be heard before a disability judge'up to a year, even two years depending upon current backlogs in the system. After such a long wait, and given the fact that having a disability attorney improves your odds of being approved for disability to such an extent, it only makes sense to present the federal judge with a well-prepared case. A lawyer who specializes in representing SSD/SSI applicants can help present a case that is persuasive enough to win disability payments.

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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