Although it is possible to navigate the social security disability application process alone, many choose to hire a lawyer to help guide the process. You can engage an attorney at any stage of the process but early is most beneficial. Here is how hiring a disability lawyer can help increase the odds of winning a case, by building a stronger case from the beginning.
Does your Disability Make you Eligible for Social Security Benefits?
Calling a lawyer prior to submitting a social security disability application is beneficial because they will be able to help you determine if you are eligible for disability. Eligibility is based on a review of medical and work history. Sharing specific and detailed information about your case will help your lawyer determine if you will have a viable claim.
Complete the Social Security Disability Application
If your lawyer determines that your claim is viable, they will encourage you
to begin the application process, which can be done online. This can be done in conjunction with your lawyer over the phone, or in person. An attorney assists with the application by reviewing your daily activities record, medical and work history and helping you word your application in a manner that will build a strong foundation for your claim, in the case that your application is not approved and needs to be appealed in the future. Oftentimes claims are denied simply due to information being understated or overstated in the application. Working with a lawyer can help ensure that you correctly state all of your information correctly, without any oversight. Additionally, your lawyer will ensure that the application is completed in proper procedure and on-time.
Wait for the Social Security Administration to Review Your Application
The social security disability application review process is broken into four agency level decisions. The initial application process can take about 3-4 months for a decision. Then, if denied, there is a reconsideration process that can take an additional 3-4 months for a decision. If denied there, an applicant will wait approximately an additional 12 months for an administrative law hearing to be held. While the majority of cases are approved at the administrative level, it can still take a total of about 18 months until a claim is approved.
Unfortunately, not all cases are even approved at the administrative law hearing. If denied by an administrative law judge, an applicant can appeal the decision within the agency to the Appeals Council. If further denied, an applicant can file a civil case in the US District and then in the US Court of Appeals. It is important to know that in the case of civil appeals an applicant would have to wait several years before a claim would be approved, then can file a civil action in district court and the court of appeals.
It is important to plan ahead financially when possible, considering that 3-4 months is the minimum amount of time that you will wait before learning if your claim is initially approved. However, be sure to be prepared if your claim is denied at the initial and the reconsideration levels. In this case, the appeal and decision process can take up to an additional 12 months. It is encouraged that you prepare for the social security disability application process to take about 18 months from start to finish, but be aware there is a possibility it could take several years before the claim is approved.
Work with a Disability Lawyer to Guide You Through the Final Steps
If your application is approved, your lawyer will partner with you to ensure that you receive payment in a timely manner. In the case that your application is denied, your lawyer will work with you on the appeal process to try and win your case. If you submitted a social security disability application on your own and contact a lawyer after being denied, the lawyer will help determine why your case was denied and guide you through the next steps of the appeal process. This may include contacting your medical provider for evidence and other information gatherings on your lawyer’s part. A court date will be set and your and your lawyer will appeal in front of a judge to appeal your case and a decision will be made.
Some social security disability cases are cut and dry, for example, for those with a terminal illness, certain types of cancer, and individuals who are deaf or blind. However, many cases are borderline and choosing to work with an experienced disability attorney can help ensure that you are accurately reporting your situation in your application and presenting impactful evidence, in the case of an appeal.
Schedule a Consultation with a Disability Lawyer