Approximately 65 percent of initial applications for Social Security disability benefits are denied. Filing for these benefits requires the applicant to correctly fill out confusing paperwork and submit various medical documents. Many applicants become overwhelmed with the application process and eventually seek help from friends, family members, online resources, and legal professionals.
A knowledgeable attorney can be of benefit to applicants with Social Security disability claims. Applicants using a lawyer are much more likely to have their claim approved than individuals who don’t. Understanding the benefits of a Social Security disability lawyer can help you decide if you should work with an attorney during the application process.
Attorneys Know What Medical Documentation is Needed
The main factor necessary to win a claim the first time around is having appropriate medical evidence. Because applicants do not have experience in this process, they may burden down the Social Security Administration with too much information that is not relevant and fail to give enough of the information that really matters.
Usually, applicants who are represented by a lawyer win more often, because their legal representative has the ability to develop medical evidence in the correct manner and in accordance with a client’s specific medical conditions. When handed a case, an experienced disability attorney will meticulously review the applicant’s records to see if further tests or medical records are needed. The lawyer will then explain what is necessary and help the applicant get the required records, tests, and documentation.
All pertinent proof and records will be submitted in a timely manner to the Social Security Administration (SSA). Irrelevant information will be left out when this submission takes place. In cases that proceed to a hearing level, it is crucially important that there is nothing irrelevant contained in the case’s paperwork. Administrative law judges (ALJs) frown upon sifting through mountains of papers containing unnecessary details.
Skilled Communication With Medical Providers
In order to successfully get approval for Social Security disability, applicants will need their physician’s supportive opinion in writing. Sometimes, this can be a difficult item to get due to the unwillingness of some doctors to assist disability applicants. For whatever reason, some physicians just do not want to help. Doctors may simply be so busy that they do not want to take time to complete forms. Other doctors may not fully understand how the disability process works, or they may have their own personal feelings about disability benefits and choose not to help. There are also some physicians who just do not believe an applicant is actually disabled.
Interestingly, physicians are more likely to participate in a discussion about the subject and respond positively with another professional such as a disability lawyer. Experienced Social Security disability attorneys have a track record of dealing with such medical providers and can more readily answer questions and concerns doctors have than applicants can. The interaction and exchange between these professionals can frequently lead to a willingness from doctors to help.
Legal Representation for Appeals
Should your original disability claim be denied, there will be an appeals process. Your lawyer will be able to speak for you at all of these reconsideration proceedings and hearings. As part of the preparation process, the attorney will gather key medical evidence for submission and will communicate with all medical professionals and physicians who treated you. Your legal representative will help you prepare for any questioning you may face from an administrative law judge.
When a hearing takes place, you will have the guidance of your attorney during testimony that will ultimately give the judge a proper understanding of the impact your disability has had on your ability to work. If it is impossible for you to appear at a hearing due to your physical condition, an OTR (on the record) legal decision can be requested by the judge. This action allows your disability claim to be approved without a hearing.
The Social Security Administration hires vocational experts (VE) who appear at disability hearings to testify as to the type of work applicants should be able to perform given their medical conditions. The judge will use hypothetical situations posed as questions to the VE that include the documented symptoms of applicants. If testimony from the VE indicates a belief that the applicant can still work, the claim will most likely be denied.
However, skilled disability attorneys are adept at countering any negative testimony offered by a VE. In addition, the experienced lawyer draws out supportive opinions in place of the negative ones. Of course, this ability has only come through experienced knowledge of the way various jobs and needed skills are categorized.
Questions for the Applicant
The judge will question the applicant during the hearing process to learn all of the following:
- Is the applicant being honest about the symptoms
- The extent of impairment affecting the applicant
- Reasons for any medical record inconsistencies
- Treatment successes or failures
- Specifics of past work
In addition to the judge asking questions, the applicant’s attorney will be allowed to present questions afterward. This offers an opportunity for any weak areas of the applicant’s answers to be strengthened. The lawyer will ask questions that clarify and correct any problem areas. By asking questions in different ways, the attorney helps the applicant give a better explanation to the judge about the effects of the medical condition.
Attorneys Know How to Win Case Arguments
Various types of arguments can be legally used in a Social Security disability claim. Successful attorneys are able to identify specific arguments that match an applicant’s medical condition and past work history. These legal arguments are complex and can be difficult to understand unless you are an experienced disability lawyer.
The following are various theories, arguments and examples used by attorneys regarding an applicant’s disability:
- A combination of impairments, specific to this applicant, prevents working.
- Grid rules require a disability finding.
- Medical condition of applicant meets or is equal to a listing.
- Existing exertional impairments and non-exertional impairments prevent the applicant from working.
- Improper use of claimant’s past work by the vocational expert in determining jobs that can be done.
By skillfully anticipating any potential weaknesses in a disability case, an experienced attorney can best manage them and help the applicant successfully get approved.
Contact Our Social Security Disability Attorney Today
The Eichholz Law Firm provides professional legal services for Social Security disability applicants. Contact us for help with your disability application.