It is completely up to you whether or not you hire a disability attorney to assist you with your Social Security Disability application process. While you have the right to represent yourself in these proceedings, there are several benefits to choosing a qualified disability lawyer to assist you.
- Explain Disability Eligibility: Navigating the nuances of Social Security Disability can be a challenge, especially if you have never had to deal with this type of process in the past. An experienced disability attorney not only understands the law regarding disability,they can also assess your particular case and evaluate your chances of receiving benefits. They can fully explain to you the criteria for receiving assistance, as well as the difference between Social Security Disability and Social Security Income, and which type you may be eligible to receive.
- Assist with Initial Application: While not all SSDI lawyers assist with the initial application, there are some who do. This can benefit you by ensuring that the paperwork is completed and filed appropriately, thus reducing your chance of having to work through the appeals process. By hiring a SSDI attorney from the onset, the process can go much more smoothly and can accelerate your results. On average, the process takes about 3-5 months to obtain approval, however if paperwork is filed incorrectly or incomplete/ inaccurate information is provided, then combined with the appeals process, it could take as much as 3-5 years before you can receive benefits.
- Manage the Appeal Process: If your initial claim is denied, and you feel that this was an incorrect decision, you have the option to appeal. The steps involved in this would be by first requesting a reconsideration, where your case will be completely reviewed by someone who was not involved in initially reviewing your case. The next level would be a disability hearing, where you have the opportunity to represent your case again, where you are questioned and are allowed to bring witnesses to back your testimony. This is the point where many people choose to first get an attorney involved. From here, if your claim is again denied, you can move the the appeals council, and from there would proceed to the Federal Court to further your appeal, if necessary. A Social Security Attorney can help to make sure that you have all of the information required for these appeals, and can even assist you with obtaining doctor testimony to help support your claim. They will be able to guide you through the process so that you can get the best results possible.
- Explain the Impact of Work on Your Benefits: If you are currently on disability and receiving benefits, or are considering applying for disability benefits, you will need to understand how having a job will affect your ability to keep or receive disability benefits. While making an effort to work can be seen as a positive effort on your part by the courts, it may also cause you to receive reduced benefits, or impact your eligibility for future benefits. Once approved for Social Security Disability, you may be eligible to receive back payments for the time between when you became disabled and when your benefits were approved. Working during this time may reduce the back payments that you receive. This can vary greatly on a case-by-case basis, so discussing your ability to work and how it may impact your case with a Social Security Lawyer can help you best understand your options and help you to maximize the income you receive, either from your benefits, your job, or a combination of the two.
- Explain Survivor and Child Benefits: If you have lost a spouse or parent who was eligible for Social Security, you may be eligible for survivor benefits. There is specific criteria which must be met, and a SSD Lawyer can help you determine if you meet this criteria. There are also benefits available for children with special needs, or adult disabled children whose parents have paid into Social Security. If you think that you or your child may possibly be able to receive these benefits, meeting with an attorney specializing in Social Security Disability will help you determine if you are eligible, and can assist you with the process of obtaining these benefits.
Dealing with a disability is challenging enough by itself. A qualified Social Security Disability Lawyer can be a great benefit to you when working through the process involved in obtaining and keeping disability benefits. Always do your homework before selecting a disability attorney, and choose one that is able to meet your needs, and that you feel comfortable working with. Many attorneys offer a free consultation. Take advantage of this opportunity to get to know the lawyer you are considering hiring, and to get a better idea of their experience and ability to handle your particular case.