Hiring a Qualified Disability Lawyer in Washington

Claimants with representation in Washington 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

If you live in the state of Washington and are thinking of applying for Social Security Disability (SSD) or supplemental security income (SSI) benefits, chances are you have never stopped to think of the fact that you are likely to have to appear before a federally appointed administrative judge. And yet, statistics from the Office of Disability Programs indicate that nearly 60 percent of all SSD and SSI disability claims filed in Washington state are denied.

Nor are applicants who appeal the state disability examiner's decision likely to see any financial relief; a staggering 84.9 percent of all request for reconsideration appeals or reviews are denied by the Washington state disability determination services as well.

If, like most disability claimants, you are turned down for benefits upon reconsideration, your best option is to file a second appeal, which will be heard, not by disability determination services, by a disability judge. You are strongly advised to seek legal counsel at this point'this is your best chance of winning benefits.

Nationwide, about 40 percent of disability applicants who were denied benefits by a state disability examiner are awarded benefits when their case is heard before an administrative judge, but this number rises to over 60 percent when the claimants are represented by a disability attorney.

An experienced disability lawyer will craft a strong case by examining your past claims and determining any weaknesses in the medical information provided that may have been used as a basis of your past denials. Your attorney may also be able to spot inconsistencies in the disability examiner's decision and present those to the judge as well, all in a manner that meets the social security administration (SSA) criteria for disability. Your attorney may also be able to suggest additional medical tests or evaluations that may be needed to bolster your claim, submit any new medical evidence to the judge as well.

The one thing you do not want to do if your claim has been denied by disability determination services is to give up. The disability determination process is both long and frustrating for most, but if you reach the third level of consideration and have the chance to have your case heard before an administrative judge, your chances of winning are great, particularly if you retain a Washington disability lawyer to represent you in this proceeding.

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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