Social Security Disability Resource Center

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Social Security Disability Issues and Representation

People who file for social security disability or SSI benefits and have been turned down by their state disability determination services (DDS) agency (disability examiners at DDS make the actual decisions for the social security administration) should obtain legal representation as soon as possible. Why? Because, if your initial claim is turned down, your appeal (this first appeal is called request for reconsideration) is likely to be unsuccessful as well. Unfortunately, reconsideration appeals are also decided by DDS, and a staggering 81% of them are denied.

If your request for reconsideration is denied, your smartest move is definitely not to give up, but to file a second appeal to have your case heard before a federal administrative law judge (ALJ). Studies have shown that ALJs are much more likely to approve disability claims than disability examiners, especially when claimants have legal representation. In fact, some statistics show that claimants who have legal representation are about twice as likely to win benefits as those who choose to represent themselves.

Why would any claimant choose to represent themselves before a federal judge? Perhaps because many do not want to pay for legal services, but this is not a valid reason to put the outcome of your disability claim in jeopardy. In disability cases, lawyers are paid only if they win the case, and there is no upfront money involved. Also, the fee that disability lawyers can charge is capped at 21% of the claimant’s total backpay, up to a maximum of $6000. This is far less than attorney fees for other types of cases.

Other individuals who represent themselves may think that their appearance will be a simple matter of going before the judge and telling their story. However, disability hearings require far more proof than a verbal recitation of your medical condition and symptoms. In order to persuade an ALJ, you must disprove the disability examiner’s claim that you are able to do your past job or other work by arguing that your skills, age, education, or other limitations prevent you from doing so.

This requires a firm grasp of the Medical Vocational Grid. A good disability attorney will review everything in your medical records and work history to find evidence that the disability examiner erred in his or her decision, and help persuade a judge that in actuality you do not fall anywhere on that grid. Most claimants have no idea what is in their disability file or the precise reasoning behind their denial, and even if they read over the information they will not have the legal background necessary to form a sound legal argument based on what they learn.

A disability attorney can also review your files to see if there are any additional medical tests or statements that could strengthen your case, or that could help you meet a blue book listing (the book of impairments that SSA uses to classify disabilities). If it is a child that is under consideration, there may be certain psychological reports or tests, even statements from teachers, needed to refute a denial. The average claimant may not even be aware of these options or know how to obtain them.

  • Index of Social Security Disability SSI Questions and Answers

  • 56 Answers to Social Security Disability SSI Questions

  • SSDRC Homepage:

    Social Security Disability and SSI Resource Center

    The Most Basic questions about Getting Disability Benefits

    Social Security Disability and SSI Back Pay Benefits

    Social Security Disability SSI and whether or not you can work

    How long does it take for Social Security Disability or SSI?

    Social Security Disability SSI Awards and Award Notices

    Tips, Mistakes, How to Qualify, and How to Win Disability

    Tips and Advice for Social Security Disability and SSI Claims

    Common Mistakes to avoid after being denied for Disability

    Disability Qualifications and How to Qualify for Disability Benefits

    Winning Social Security Disability or SSI, How to Win

    Denials, Appeals, and Getting a Disability Lawyer or Representative

    What you should know about Social Security Disability and SSI Denials

    Social Security Disability and SSI Appeal Process - How to file appeals

    Questions about Disability Lawyers and Hiring a Disability Attorney

    Various Types of Benefits including SSI, Mental, and Child benefits

    SSI Disability Benefits, Questions and Answers

    Social Security and SSI based on Mental Disability

    Social Security Disability or SSI Benefits for Children

    Disability Benefits through Social Security

    Information to start with regarding Disability Claims

    An Overview of Social Security Disability and SSI

    What is considered a Disabling condition by Social Security?

    The Disability Requirements to be eligible for SSD and SSI Benefits

    Filing for Social Security Disability or SSI Benefits

    Social Security Disability and SSI Applications

    Social Security Disability SSI List of Conditions and Impairments

    Social Security Disability SSI: Medical Evidence and Records

    Filing your claim for disability benefits

    Eligibility for receiving disability benefits

    Resources on this site

    Social Security Disability, SSI Terms and Definitions

    Previously answered questions regarding SSD and SSI

    The SSDRC Disability Blog

    For Individuals living in North Carolina

    Disability in North Carolina

    North Carolina Disability Lawyer

    Getting disability in North Carolina

    Related pages:

    Social Security Disability Lawyers - Fees and Representation Information
    Social Security Disability Representation - Disability Lawyers and Representatives
    Why does Representation increase the win ratio at a Social Security Disability or SSI Hearing?
    Social Security Disability Issues and Representation
    How does Social Security Disability Representation work?
    Does Being Represented On A Disability Claim Win The Case Faster?
    Who can provide disability representation in North Carolina?
    Should you hire a Non-Attorney Disability Representative instead of a Lawyer? The Rationale for getting Disability Representation

    Information on the following topics can be found here: Social Security Disability Questions and in these subsections:

    Frequently asked questions about getting Denied for Disability Benefits | FAQ on Disability Claim Representation | Info about Social Security Disability Approvals and Being Approved | FAQ on Social Security Disability SSI decisions | The SSD SSI Decision Process and what gets taken into consideration | Disability hearings before Judges | Medical exams for disability claims | Applying for Disability in various states | Selecting and hiring Disability Lawyers | Applying for Disability in North Carolina | Recent articles and answers to questions about SSD and SSI

    These pages answer some of the most basic questions for individuals who are considering filing a claim.

    Filing for disability - How to file for SSD or SSI and the Information that is needed by Social Security
    How to Apply for Disability - What medical conditions can you apply and qualify for?
    Applying for Disability - How long does it take to get Social Security Disability or SSI benefits?
    What happens if I file a disability application and it is denied by a disability examiner or Judge?
    How to Prove you are disabled and qualify to win disability benefits
    How do you prove your disability case if you have a mental condition or impairment?
    Social Security Disability Back pay and How Long it Takes to Qualify for it and receive it
    Social Security Disability SSI - Eligibility Requirements and Qualifications Criteria