If a long-term illness or injury significantly affects your ability to continue working, then applying for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) may be the only way to support yourself financially. Yet, while you may initially qualify, there are no guarantees that the Social Security Administration (SSA) will approve your claim and award these benefits. It is estimated that approximately 40% of first-time applicants are denied – leading to a frustrating waiting period while the appeal process unfolds.
If you haven’t already decided to seek professional advice, consider these five ways that a Social Security Disability Insurance attorney can help you achieve a successful outcome and obtain the assistance you need.
1. ACCURACY. The SSDI application package is your first opportunity to explain the details of your condition to the SSA, and the smallest error or misrepresentation could slow down the approval process or even result in a rejection. The application consists of several sections, and even when you’re in perfect health, filling out a lengthy application can become stressful. Having a qualified attorney to double check all forms and clarify information that you don’t understand will help you to put forth an application that is as accurate and descriptive as possible.
2. KNOWLEDGE AND EXPERIENCE. Administrative Law Judges are not medical professionals and they rely primarily on a predetermined list of disabilities. An SSDI attorney is familiar with the Social Security Administration’s classification of disabilities and the criteria applicants are expected to meet. The attorney will look closely at your medical history to determine which details should be highlighted in your application, making sure that you have a strong case to present before the Judge.
3. PREPARATION. In the event of an appeal, a SSDI attorney can prepare you for the rigorous questioning of the hearing. You may think that meeting face-to-face is enough to convey the seriousness of your disability, but the Judge is most interested in hearing how a particular medical condition prevents you from functioning in a work environment. The Judge is trained to recognize signs that your condition may not be as serious as you say it is. Your attorney will familiarize you with the type of questions a Judge is likely to ask so that you can be as clear and thorough as possible when explaining your situation.
4. SUPPORT. A disability that causes ongoing pain or discomfort can make it difficult for you to focus on preparing paperwork, following up on the posting of hearing dates, gathering witnesses, and other aspects of the process. When you work with a licensed SSDI attorney, you can be sure that your case is being approached with attentiveness and professionalism, even if you aren’t personally able to handle every detail.
5. VISIBILITY. The Social Security Administration is flooded with SSDI claims. If your claim is denied, so that you have to file for a hearing, you will likely have to wait more than a year before meeting with the Judge for a hearing. Although extreme and extenuating circumstances can lead to having your case expedited, these are few and far between. Having an SSDI attorney on your side will help ensure that your appeal is heard as quickly as possible. An attorney works to prevent your case from slipping between the cracks, and they will make an effort to get your appeal reviewed sooner, including asking for an ORD (on the record) decision.
Elliott Andalman, Esq. – Montgomery County Attorney – Disability Law and Benefits Expert
Social Security Disability