If you are disabled and unable to work, you might qualify for Social Security Disability. In order to receive benefits you will have to apply with the Social Security Administration. This process can be overwhelming, especially if you are denied benefits and faced with the need to appeal the Social Security Administration’s decision. You should know that you have the right to have an attorney or another person represent you throughout the process of applying for disability benefits, and through the appeals process should your original application be denied.
Do I need to hire a representative to file for Social Security disability?
You are not required to hire a representative, and for the initial application, many people do not hire anyone to assist them. Whether you feel you need representation in order to file for disability is up to you.
While many people file for disability on their own, and even make their first appeal on their own if their initial claim is denied, the majority of applicants who are taking their appeal in front of an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ), or beyond that, to federal court, will hire attorneys to represent them and handle their claim. Individuals who retain counsel before hearings in front of ALJ’s tend to have more favorable outcomes.
What can a representative do for me?
Your representative can deal with the Social Security Administration on your behalf. In order to do this, the representative must be appointed in writing and the document must be filed with the Social Security Administration. You representative is not allowed to charge you a fee unless he or she is approved to do so by the Social Security Administration. While your representative can assemble documents and fill out forms for you, remember that your representative cannot sign your application. You must check the information in the forms to ensure its accuracy and sign in acknowledgement.
If your application is denied, there are many more things your representative can do for you.
How likely is it that my initial application will be denied?
It is not unusual for your initial application to be denied, as it happens frequently. There is also a fairly good chance that your first appeal will be denied. You should still provide as much information as possible to support your claim, and put together the best application that you can in order to hopefully get approved without the considerable time and effort of the appeals process.
What will my representative do if my case goes to an ALJ?
A hearing in front of an ALJ requires some prep work to ensure you have all the appropriate documentation of your disability in order to make your case. An experienced representative or attorney will know what sorts of medical documentation the ALJ will be looking at when they are deciding whether to grant your request for benefits. An attorney will review all of your documents to make sure that you are not missing important information, and will contact physicians if there are missing records or if you need more information from a doctor who can attest to your inability to work.
Another part of the hearing in front of the ALJ involves the applicant testifying. Your attorney will be able to prepare you for this testimony by practicing with you and asking you questions that you might be faced with on the day of the hearing. This can help you keep your nerves in check and avoid making a mistake on the day of the hearing.
The Social Security Administration might also hire a vocational expert who will testify to his or her opinion about your ability to work. After the ALJ questions the expert, your attorney will have an opportunity to cross-examine the expert and counter any testimony that hurts your claim. This is an area where experience is highly valuable, as it is a difficult thing to confront an expert and ask the right questions.
How will my representative get paid?
Attorneys who represent claimants in Social Security disability claims are paid on a contingency basis, which means they only get paid if you win. Many claimants feel that the expense is worthwhile because of the increased chances of a favorable outcome to your claim.
Contact Stern Law, PLLC for A Free Consultation
At Stern Law, PLLC, we have compassionate and caring attorneys ready to work with you on your disability related legal matters. Contact Stern Law, PLLC today at (844) 808-7529 for a free consolation with an experienced disability attorney.