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How do I get help to win my disability claim in North Carolina?
In a recent discussion, a person listed a variety of complaints about how their disability case was being handled by Social Security. The list was fairly long, not surprisingly. This individual was given the following advice by another participant in the forum. The advice was:
"hire a disability attorney to win your disability claim if you haven't done so. Another thing - write your US Senator to get help. There is a congressional Social Security Liason office that will also monitor your claim. Get that attorney!"
Should you do this? As a former North Carolina disability examiner, and as someone involved in claimant representation, here are my thoughts:
1. If you get denied for disability, either filing for SSD or filing for SSI, get a representative. This is because once you denied on a disability application, the likelihood is very very high that you will have to go to a disability hearing at some point.
You will, of course, have to file a reconsideration appeal before the hearing appeal level, but more than 80 percent of reconsiderations are denied. Again, this is not surprising and this is really how the system has operated for at least the last 30 years. Reconsiderations, or first appeals, are hardly ever successful. That being the case, if you get denied on the initial claim, i.e. application for disability, you should go through the motions of filing a request for reconsideration knowing full well that you will probably have to file a second appeal to request a hearing.
2. If you have a hearing coming up and you are not represented, get a representative. Point blank: it is absolutely foolish to go before a federal administrative law judge by yourself. And it is equally foolish to think that you can quickly "self-educate" yourself as to how hearings work. The hearing appeal level does not simply involve going to a hearing. That is the easy part. Most of the hearing process involves preparation in advance of the hearing...and knowing the various rules, regulations, and court rulings that can affect a claim and which can be used to win a claim.
So, should you get a representative? By all means. And this individual can be a lawyer, or a non-attorney who is a former Social Security employee with years of experience working in different aspects of the federal disability system. In my own case, my experience is varied and extensive. I am a non-attorney disability representative in North Carolina, but I am also a former caseworker, a former disability examiner, a former disability case manager, and I have been interviewed by the New York Times for an opinion piece on the status of the Social Security Disability system.
Whoever represents you, though, you are best served if the individual specializes in Social Security administrative law. In other words, you don't want (and can be harmed by) a "disability lawyer" who only does a handful of disability cases per year while juggling traffic court cases and personal injury claims. This type of representative is unlikely to know much about the process, even if they have been to a dozen or more hearings.
Last piece of advice on the topic of representation: be sure to read your fee agreement before signing it. And make sure you can speak with the representative or attorney before you become their client versus only being "handled" by the paralegal. You want to get the sense that your rep is actually accessible to you.
3. Should you contact your Congressman or Senator to help you win benefits? Not if you have just applied for benefits. A congressman or Senator will no impact on the outcome of your case. They cannot influence the decision. However, they can help to clear long delays on your case. So, if your case has been stuck at DDS for a long time, waiting on a decision to be made, they can sometimes get the process to move faster. And if your case has been at the hearing office for what seems like forever waiting to be scheduled, they can sometimes "make this happen", i.e. give the hearing office a push to schedule you sooner.
Return to: Social Security Disability Resource Center, or read answers to Questions
Filing for NC disability benefits
Applying for Disability in North Carolina - How to apply, qualify, and meet filing requirements
Applying for NC disability benefits
More about filing for disability benefits in North Carolina
How to claim disability benefits in North Carolina
What happens on a disability application in North Carolina?
How long will it take to receive NC disability benefits if your application is approved?
Basic questions about disability benefits in North Carolina
How much can you receive in disability backpay in North Carolina?
How far back do you get disability benefits in North Carolina?
Can You Work and Collect Social Security Disability in North Carolina?
How to Get the Status on Your Social Security Disability Claim in North Carolina
How do I get help to win my disability claim in North Carolina?
The disability process in North Carolina
What condition or conditions qualifies for disability in North Carolina?
How long does it take to get through the disability system in North Carolina?
Is it hard to get disability benefits in North Carolina?
What are my chances of being approved for disability benefits in North Carolina?
How long does it take to receive North Carolina disability benefits after you are approved?
Disability determination services in North Carolina
Disability decisions in North Carolina
How long does it take for the disability decision in North Carolina?
How does the North Carolina Social Security disability determination process work?
Getting disability benefits in North Carolina
Getting denied for disability in North Carolina and filing appeals
What does getting disability benefits in North Carolina involve?
How to get on disability in North Carolina
NC Disability requirements and qualifications
Will I Qualify For Disability Benefits in North Carolina?
What is the criteria for disability benefits in North Carolina?
What are the disability qualifications in North Carolina?
Proving the requirements for disability in North Carolina
How do you meet the Disability qualifications in North Carolina?
SSI and Social Security Disability requirements in North Carolina
How do I Know If I Qualify For Disability in North Carolina?
Winning Disability benefits in NC
How do I win disability benefits in North Carolina?
Improving your chances of getting disability in North Carolina
How to improve the chances of winning a North Carolina disability hearing
Will an attorney or representative help me win North Carolina disability benefits?
Winning disability benefits in North Carolina
Mental Disability benefits in NC
Receiving disability for a mental condition in North Carolina
How do you receive benefits for a mental disability in North Carolina?
Getting approved for mental disability benefits in North Carolina
Disability awards and award notices in North Carolina
Getting a Social Security disability award in North Carolina
The Social Security disability award notice process in North Carolina
What affects how much time it takes to get a disability award in North Carolina?
Disability representation in North Carolina
Should I get a disability representative or lawyer in North Carolina?
Who can provide disability representation in North Carolina?
Hiring a Qualified Disability Lawyer in North Carolina
How do Disability Lawyers in North Carolina get paid their fees?
Denied for disability in North Carolina, should I get an attorney or representative?
Disability attorney fees in NC - paying your lawyer or representative
How does a disability lawyer or representative get paid in North Carolina?
How much does the fee cost for a disability attorney in North Carolina?
Do you pay your disability lawyer in North Carolina or does Social Security pay the fee?
Will your North Carolina disability lawyer charge you upfront for taking your case?
Will your NC disability attorney charge you for any expenses other than the main fee?
NC disability hearings
What kind of decision will you get at a disability hearing in North Carolina?
NC disability hearing - how long for a decision?
Do you have to go to a Social Security hearing in North Carolina to get approved for disability?
The disability hearing in North Carolina- things to keep in mind
How do you prepare for a disability hearing in North Carolina?