Sunday, September 14, 2008

I was Denied at my Disability Hearing, Should I get a Lawyer?

Here's a question I saw recently. I was denied at my disability hearing, should I get a lawyer? Here's basically my answer to the question:

The time to get a disability lawyer is prior to a social security disability hearing being held, not after one has been held.

What will happen if you try to get disability representation after your hearing? At the very least, you'll find it more difficult to find someone to help you with your case. And it shouldn't be too hard to figure out why. At this point in the process, a claimant will have finished the appeal step where claimants--who have previously been denied at the initial claim and reconsideration levels--typically have their best chance of being approved (2/3 of claimants who appear at hearings are approved).

What incentive does an attorney or non-attorney representative have to get involved when A) the only thing left to do, appeal-wise, is to request a review of the administrative law judge decision and B) the case, for lack of better words, may already have been "blown" by a claimant's ill-considered decision to go to a hearing without the benefit of representation and proper hearing presentation.

Many disability lawyers will tell a claimant who is in this type of situation to do the following: obtain a copy of the notice of decision (from the hearing) and bring it by the office or mail it in. In fact, this, aside from reading the case file (something done by a representative prior to a hearing being held) is the only way to know A) whether the case has sufficient merit for appeal or B) whether the claimant should start over with a new disability claim.

Without a doubt, a disability claimant should always seek representation for an upcoming disability hearing and this representation should be obtained no later than the submission of a request for hearing before an administrative law judge. However, in practical terms, a claimant may wish to consider representation following the denial of an initial claim (a.k.a. disability application) for this reason: the step following the initial claim is the request for reconsideration. And on this first appeal, more than eight out of ten claimants are usually denied, making it necessary for most claimants to request a hearing where "going it alone" is never a good idea.

Return to the Social Security Disability SSI Benefits Blog

Social Security Disability and SSI, what is the difference?
Can I win my social security disability claim?


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