How to file for disability, Filing for SSI
Disability Requirements, Disability Status
How long is the wait?, Disability Application
The Social Security List of Impairments
Qualifying for Disability, Mental Disability
Disability Lawyer Info, Disability Back Pay
Social Security Claims and Disability Lawyers in Illinois
It is likely that, at some point after filing a claim for Social Security Disability (SSD) or SSI, you will benefit from seeking legal counsel or representation by a Social Security Disability lawyer. Why? Because statistics show that the majority of cases (a whopping 70 percent) filed with social security are denied after being reviewed by the disability examiner, and only 15 percent are likely to be approved by an examiner upon request for reconsideration, or appeal. This means that the odds are very high that your case will have to be heard before a judge before it is approved (if it is approved).
After a case is denied in Illinois by the state disability determination services (DDS), which decides disability cases for the social security administration, the claimant can request a disability hearing before an administrative judge. It is at this level of consideration that a disability lawyer can be most useful, even critical, to the individual applying for disability benefits.
Why? Because an experienced disability lawyer will be more knowledgeable about every aspect of the disability determination process, and thus be more competent at disputing the findings of the examiner who initially denied the claim. Few claimants with no legal background will know the ins and outs of the disability system as well as an attorney specializing in these cases, unless they have served as a disability examiner or judge themselves in the past. In fact, claimants with legal representation have been shown to win approximately 60 percent of the time, which makes the hearing the very best chance a case has for approval (if it was previously denied at the initial claim and reconsideration levels).
It is important to keep in mind that the administrative law judge acts as both an adjudicator and a representative for the social security administration. While it is expected that administrative law judges be impartial in their decisions, the dual nature of their role in disability proceedings should not be ignored. It only makes sense for a claimant to have an advocate who is at least as knowledgeable about the disability evaluation process as the judge who will ultimately decide the case.
At what point in the disability process should you find a qualified disability attorney to represent your case? Well, not every disability lawyer will take a case unless both the claim and appeal has been denied by DDS and it is necessary to appear before a judge. Some attorneys don’t take on cases until this point because they feel that there is little they can do to improve a client’s chances of approval with a DDS examiner.
It should be noted that there are also some disability lawyers who will not take a case unless they are fairly certain they can win and thus be guaranteed payment. These lawyers will screen their clients, taking only those cases that have the very best chance of winning disability benefits.
That being said, if you have filed a claim with DDS and been denied on a reconsideration appeal, you should strongly consider consulting with a disability attorney, even if you have a difficult case. There are disability lawyers out there who will take on any case, no matter what the odds are of winning at an administrative hearing, and having good legal representation could mean the difference between the approval or disapproval of your claim.
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For the sake of clarity, SSDRC.com is not the Social Security Administration, nor is it associated or affiliated with SSA. This site is a personal, private website that is published, edited, and maintained by former caseworker and former disability claims examiner, Tim Moore, who was interviewed by the New York Times on the topic of Social Security Disability and SSI benefits in an article entitled "The Disability Mess" and also by the Los Angeles Times on the subject of political attempts to weaken the Social Security Disability system.
The goal of the site is to provide information about how Social Security Disability and SSI work, the idea being that qualified information may help claimants pursue their claims and appeals, potentially avoiding time-consuming mistakes. If you find the information on this site helpful and believe it would be helpful to others, feel free to share links to its homepage or other pages on website resource pages, blogs, or social media. Copying of this material, however, is prohibited.
To learn more about the author, please visit the SSDRC.com homepage and view the "about this site" link near the bottom of the page.