The Social Security Administration is both a blessing and a curse when it comes to qualifying for disability benefits. Between the years 2008 to 2017, an average of 22% of applicants received benefits on their initial application. About 2% receive benefits following reconsideration, and 9% following an appeal. Sixty-Four Percent of all applicants receive a denial.
Navigating the way through a disability claim requires you to undergo and pass the application process. Meeting the requirements is challenging and hiring the best disability lawyer to help you through the procedures increases your chances of acceptance the first time you apply.
It is important to hire a disability attorney with experience in this special area of law. Their knowledge and legal expertise will prevent you from making simple mistakes on the application or document submission that may result in denial.
Keep reading to learn more about how a disability benefits lawyer can help you receive all the compensation you are entitled to under disability law. Further, it doesn’t cost you anything out-of-pocket to hire an attorney.
Don’t Worry About Attorney Fees
People hear the word attorney and assume fees will cost them thousands of dollars. When you are unable to work because of a disability, you don’t have that kind of money lying around and may attempt to apply on your own. This can be a costly mistake.
When you hire an SSI disability lawyer their fees are regulated by federal law. There are no up-front costs to you. Attorney fees are paid from your settlement and are regulated by both Social Security and Rule 7.955 of the California Rules of the Court.
Under the Social Security Disability rules, your attorney fees will be no more than 25% of your disability backpay. Even if you receive a very high settlement, attorney fees can be no more than a total of $6,000. That means if you were to receive a $50,000 backpay award, even though 25% is $12,500 your attorney will only receive $6,000.
You only pay if you win your case. If you lose, your attorney receives nothing.
A Complex Application Process
When you visit the Social Security website, the disability application process sounds simple. You can apply using the phone, online, or in-person following these steps:
- Gather information and documents to apply
- Print and review the adult disability checklist
- Complete and submit the application
Once you submit your application you must wait while Social Security reviews your application. They will verify you meet the basic requirements for disability benefits. They check to make sure you have enough work years to qualify and evaluate your current work status.
Once Social Security determines you meet the basic requirements, your application will be sent to the disability determination office in California. The state agency makes the final determination on eligibility.
While there are some people who apply on their own and receive approval, there are far more who do not. By using a disability lawyer you have the advantage of their legal expertise. This includes understanding what the alleged onset date of your disability is, and knowing how to prove your condition meets at least one of the impairments they list.
Social Security has an extensive list of impairments that may qualify you for disability benefits. Those medical conditions include:
- Musculoskeletal disorders
- Special Senses and Speech
- Respiratory Disorders
- Cardiovascular System
- Digestive System
- Genitourinary Disorders
- Hematological Disorders
- Skin Disorders
- Endocrine Disorders
- Congenital Disorders Affecting Multiple Body Systems
- Neurological Disorders
- Mental Disorders
- Cancer and Malignant Neoplastic Diseases
- Immune System Disorders
Appropriate medical documentation must be submitted with your application regarding your condition. Documents must show how the medical condition impairs your ability to work. Simply having one of the qualifying conditions does not automatically mean you will receive benefits.
Applicants may receive a denial for benefits if their disability is unlikely to last 12 months or:
- Their impairment is not considered severe
- They are still able to perform their normal type of work
- They are able to perform another type of work
- Disability is the result of alcoholism or drug addiction
Other reasons for denial include not providing sufficient medical evidence or failing to cooperate. This includes not following treatment recommendations. You may also receive a denial if you return to substantial work prior to receiving a decision.
Initial Determination, Denials, and Appeals
In the initial determination, you will receive information on whether or not you are eligible for SSI, the amount of your payment if you receive approval, or if you were overpaid the amount of that overpayment and whether or not you must pay it back.
It is not unusual for people to receive a denial of benefits on their first application. An experienced disability lawyer is comfortable with the appeal process. They will review the SSI denial to learn what is necessary for a successful response on the appeal.
Every level of appeal must be filed within 60 days of your receiving notice. If you file an appeal within 10 days of notice any benefits you are receiving will continue until the final determination on appeal.
Social security has four levels of appeal:
- Reconsideration—File using form SSA-61-U2 or SSA-789 (disability cessation)
- Hearing before Administrative Law Judge—File using form HA-501
- Review by Social Security’s Appeal Counsel—File using form HA-520
- Review by Federal Court—Civil action in accordance with U.S. District Court Rules
For each reconsideration and appeal your attorney will collect and present your evidence. They are knowledgeable in the different filing requirements at each level of appeal and what medical information is pertinent to your case.
Your attorney understands your desire to keep medical information confidential. They can explain what information you provide to them qualifies under the law as attorney-client privilege and what they must provide to SSI to obtain a disability approval.
Your disability attorney will prepare you for any hearings. During the hearing, they will walk you through testimony to present your case.
They will also present testimony from expert witnesses on your behalf. The attorney will also cross-examine witnesses SSI calls to testify in opposition to your claim.
When to Hire the Best Disability Lawyer
Sooner is better when contacting the best disability lawyer for a consultation. At your first meeting, Sweet Lawyers will evaluate the strength of your case, let you know what additional documentation you may need, and assist you in the application process.
Our attorneys are available 24/7 and you do not pay anything unless we win your case. With a 98% success rate, you have nothing to lose and a lot to gain. Call us today at 1-800-674-7854 to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation.