There are, or can be, several stages to the process of securing Social Security Disability benefits. First, there is the initial filing of your claim, filing an appeal if claim is denied, and if that appeal is denied, then filing for a hearing before a judge.
You may think that a disability attorney is only needed at the hearing stage; however, if you’re only beginning the process of applying for Social Security Disability benefits, now’s the time to consider hiring an attorney to assist you.
Even before filing your claim, it may be helpful to consult with an experienced disability attorney. The Social Security Administration (SSA) requires that benefits applications be filled out precisely and include all the relevant documentation. An attorney can help you navigate the difficult process of securing disability benefits. While filing the application itself can be done alone, once your case moves to Disability Determination Services (DDS), the paperwork can become voluminous and intimidating, making it overwhelming and stressful. In fact, we have seen claims be denied for lack of information. An attorney can assist you in completing the necessary forms properly and sourcing all the documents to send in support of your claim.
If your initial claim for benefits is denied, you’ll need to file an appeal called a request for reconsideration. Your attorney can assist with this portion of the process as well. During reconsideration, which can last several weeks, your initial claim and evidence will be reviewed again by DDS.
If your claim is denied a second time, your attorney can file an appeal on your behalf to request a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ). A hearing can take several months to schedule.
With your hearing approaching, it’s vital to be prepared for the potentially challenging ordeal. Your attorney can help ease your mind by preparing you for the hearing. An attorney should let you know what you can expect procedurally and what kinds of questions you may be asked. The attorney should also update your medical evidence and documentation so that the file is complete prior to going before the ALJ. During the hearing itself, an attorney can ask relevant questions, and direct the ALJ to important medical evidence. Additionally, the attorney can question any expert witnesses the Social Security Administration may have present to testify.
Once the hearing is over, your attorney can help moving forward. If your claim is approved, they can again explain the subsequent process to you. It’s a common myth that if you win at a hearing you will get a check right away. An attorney can direct you on planning to use the upcoming benefits you may receive and educate you about your health insurance options. If your claim was denied after the hearing, an attorney can help you decide if appealing the decision is proper, or if you should file a new claim.
Don’t postpone contacting an attorney to help you. Call our office today to set up your free, no-obligation consultation. We’d be happy to help you navigate through the disability claims process!