Hiring a Qualified Disability Lawyer in Wisconsin
Claimants with representation in Wisconsin 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?"
If you are applying for Social Security Disability (SSD) or SSI benefits in Wisconsin you might be wondering if, or when you should involve a disability lawyer in your case. This, in large part, depends on you, and how comfortable you with representing yourself throughout the disability determination process.
Having an experienced disability attorney can certainly make things easier. For one thing, there are usually numerous medical records which must be gathered and submitted to the Wisconsin state disability determination services agency in order to receive a decision on your claim. Physicians are sometimes more likely to respond in a timely manner to requests for medical records when they are submitted by disability attorneys than when the request comes from their patient.
In addition, should your initial disability case be denied, your lawyer will automatically submit an appeal for reconsideration or review to the state disability agency, ensuring that the critical 60-day deadline for filing is met (if you miss this deadline your case is automatically denied and you have no choice but to start all over again with a new claim).
However, many disability lawyers will not become involved in a disability case unless both the initial case and the reconsideration appeal have already been denied. This is often because they feel that their services are most helpful at the second appeal, which involves a hearing before a federally appointed administrative law judge (ALJ).
Certainly, there can be little doubt that legal representation can mean the difference between winning and losing your case before a disability judge. Studies have shown that, while only 40 percent of disability cases in which claimants represent themselves before the ALJ are successful, more than 60 percent of disability cases in which claimants had legal representation before the judge were approved.
An attorney specializing in SSD and SSI matters is simply more knowledgeable and better prepared to present an argument for disability benefits to a judge, in a way that is both persuasive and legally sound, than a claimant who is unfamiliar with the disability determination process and the criteria that must be met to meet the social security administration's definition of an ongoing, debilitating medical condition.
So, when should you contact a disability lawyer if you are filing a Social Security Disability case or SSI claim in Washington state?
The best answer is, really, whenever you feel it is necessary. If at any point you are feeling overwhelmed by the process or are unable to advocate strongly for yourself, do not hesitate to get a disability lawyer involved. However, if your claim and appeal has been denied by disability determination services, you should definitely see an experienced disability attorney, because appearing before an administrative judge without legal representation could really hurt 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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