Overview of Disability

Disability Back Pay

Disability Requirements

Disability Applications

Disability Advice Tips

How long do cases take?

How to win Disability

SSD Mistakes to avoid

Disability for Mental

What if you get denied?

How to file Appeals

Disability through SSA

SSI Disability Benefits

Disability for Children

How do I qualify for it?

Working and Disability

Disability Award Notice

Disability Lawyer Q&A

Disability Conditions List

What is a disability?

Your Medical Evidence

Filing for your Disability

Disability Eligibility

SSD SSI Definitions

Recent Questions

SSDRC Disability Blog

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 85% 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 25% 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.

Return to:  Social Security Disability Resource Center, or read answers to Questions

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