What do disability lawyers do? Disability lawyers are also known as SSDI or SSI lawyers, and they specialize in handling cases for Social Security.
Are you considering employing the services of SSI/SSDI lawyer? If that’s the case, you’re in the right place.
Statistically, the majority of disability claims are denied at the initial stages, whether or not a disability applicant is presented by a non-attorney advocate or disability attorney.
For this reason alone, an SSDI/SSI claim has to go before the administrative law judge for the hope of receiving disability benefits. And at this point having an attorney makes a difference.
In this article, we will cover what disability lawyers do.
If that sounds interesting to you, keep reading to find out more.
Is It Possible to Win A Disability Claim Without A Lawyer?
Of course, it is possible, but possible is not certain. The odds of winning an SSI/SSDI claim before the ALJ is decreased by the fact that you did not bring a representative to the hearing.
Before you overexcite yourself with the possibility, consider the risk of being unrepresented at a hearing. Because your literal future livelihood depends on it (especially considering how long it takes to get a hearing).
Even though a disability lawyer is not a requirement in a claim (appeal to federal court is an exception), attending the hearing in the presence of a judge without assistance will most likely result in the lost opportunity for receiving disability benefits.
Because of the nature of these cases, lawyers are the first step in the long-stretch, the frontline of your offense. They are certainly not required, but they are a common necessity for those individuals who want to win their case and enjoy the benefits that come with it.
Anyhow, let’s get into what disability lawyers can do for you.
Disability Lawyers Collect Medical Records
Your representative lawyer, or staffer member from the law firm, will acquire medical records that are required for you to win the claim and submit the files to the Social Security Administration at the correct time before your hearing.
When you first employ your attorney, you have to sign a medical privacy release that allows the lawyer to access your medical records. The lawyer will pay for the records until the case is complete, at which you will be billed for the cost.
Often Social Security determines the type of examination required for a claim to be successful. Whereas, the lawyer will review the medical records to decide if you will be needing any additional testing. The lawyer will ask SSA to schedule a consultative examination with a specialized doctor or ask you to acquire testing on your own.
The lawyer will determine which doctors will provide supporting statements on your limitations, which records are relevant to the case for the administrative law judge, and what to do with bad evidence that could impede your chances.
Even though you might be able to do all of this on your own, it is highly advised not to, because of the importance of gathering and compiling all of the documentation in such a manner that supports your case, and not diminishes it.
Disability Lawyers Prepare for the Hearing
It is quite common for lawyers to wait an extended period of time before a hearing to even speak to their client. Up to the point of conversation, your only contact might be a paralegal or an administrative assistant.
Non-attorney advocates are responsible for arranging hearing deadlines, medical records, client communication, and other supplementary functions.
Most disability lawyers interact with their clients over the phone, but you can request an in-person meeting if you like. Before the pre-hearing meeting, the lawyer would have reviewed your file, and decided upon issues that have to be addressed.
Ensure that your medical records and other pertinent information are in immediate reach, in the case that you need to refer to them.
Your lawyer will most likely ask and review some questions with you, which you are likely to face at a hearing. Here are some examples:
- What are your symptoms?
- Do you perform any work now?
- What treatments have you tried?
- Are you currently in the care of a doctor for disability?
- Do you take any medication and does it help?
- Do you own health insurance?
- Are there activities you can no longer enjoy?
- Are you able to read and write?
In any case, these are just a rough example. There is a myriad of other questions that you might have to respond to.
You must answer all of the questions asked by your lawyer, even if a question is embarrassing to some extent. Otherwise, your lawyer will not be able to represent your case efficiently. The lawyer is not there to judge but to assist in winning the claim.
Even though the information you share is privileged and confidential. If you feel a lawyer is asking something that is irrelevant, ask them why it’s important to the case.
Disability Lawyers Argue Your Case
Finally, your disability lawyer will decide upon the best possible approach to winning your case. First, they will examine your denial letter from Social Security, in order to collect the reasons for your claim denial.
Second, the lawyer will generate a theory upon which you have become disabled under the law of Social Security. And in premise, there are three possible theories that the lawyer can use:
- Your condition meeting a disability requirement on the list
- You no longer being able to perform work you’ve done in the past
- Your exertion level being less than sedentary
- Your non-exertional limitations preventing work efficacy
To expand on this a little bit, the disability list is a collection of illnesses written by the SSA. If you meet the criteria in the appropriate description, you automatically qualify for disability benefits.
To determine if you meet the description, the lawyer will see if your condition is in the SSA blue book first. If it is, they will review your requirements on the listing, and cross-compare them against the evidence gathered for your case.
If they determine additional testing necessary, they will request an SSA doctor to examine you, and or schedule necessary required tests. If the condition is not likely to meet the listing requirements, the lawyer will look at alternative theories.
If the SSA determines that you can do your past work, your lawyer has to try and prove otherwise. The lawyer will try to use the grid to prove that you cannot adjust to less demanding work. Grid is a system of the SSA that determines if a person can work based on the maximum exertion level of the job that the person can perform, along with their level of education and age.
The grid is more useful to less educated, older applicants who can only perform at minimally active sedentary jobs. In order to win with the grid, it is important you possess supporting documentation from physicians that have you treated you in the past.
Furthermore, if you don’t need a listing and cannot use the grid method, your lawyer has to prove that you cannot even do sedentary work. To prove that you are not capable of sedentary work, your lawyer will use any of your documented symptoms, treating doctor opinions, your testimony. And all other objective evidence to show that you cannot perform sit-down jobs.
For instance, if your doctor states that you cannot lift more than 10 pounds or sit for more than 2 hours per day, this will most certainly assist in proving that you are capable of less than sedentary work, which constitutes you as disabled.
At the hearing for the disability, your lawyer will ask a series of questions, often called hypotheticals. They will help the lawyer rule out the odds of you being able to work any type of job in correspondence with the limitations of your condition.
Lawyer for You
As you have gathered, disability lawyers are not a requirement, but they are certainly a necessity for those who are scheduled for a hearing. Without the assistance of a lawyer and a legal team, you are left to the circumstances of the world and your own efforts. Both of which are often unpredictable, or simply not enough.
Even though you might be able to gather all of the evidence on your own, you might not be able to argue your case as a lawyer would. So it’s evidently important that you do work with an attorney who fully understands your case and your needs.
Considering this, we would like to propose our full-fledged legal services to you. So if you’re interested in improving your likelihood of receiving disability benefits, get in touch with us and we will happily accommodate your needs.