Social Security disability insurance was designed to help those who have suffered debilitating injuries or illnesses. Unfortunately, it’s not uncommon for those with legitimate claims to have their applications denied. By far the best way to ensure positive results is to work with a Social Security disability attorney who can help clients develop a case.
The idea of seeking help from a lawyer can seem intimidating to those who have never sought legal recourse, but that shouldn’t scare away claimants. Here’s what people can expect throughout the process of filing a Social Security claim so they can enter into it with confidence.
The First Step
Although it’s not necessary to hire a lawyer in order to file a Social Security claim, it’s wise to seek legal help at the beginning instead of waiting for the application to be denied. The first thing you should do is schedule an initial interview with an attorney who can evaluate the facts of the case and help determine if it’s worth pursuing.
These initial interviews often take place over the phone, although an in-person consultation can be scheduled. If the attorney decides to take the case, he or she will begin to compile evidence based on medical records and witness statements, and will coach the client about what to say at a hearing to increase the chances of success.
Developing Medical Evidence
To develop a solid case, the attorney and his or her team will need access to the client’s medical records. Most attorneys ask their clients to sign a medical privacy release before working on their cases. Access to client medical records allows them to evaluate existing information and determine if additional testing is required.
Winning a disability claim often requires clients to undergo specific types of physical examinations, including a consultative examination with an approved Social Security Administration doctor. The lawyer may also ask for supportive statements from doctors who treated the client. These statements will contain the doctor’s professional opinions regarding their patient’s functional limitations and whether the disability will affect their ability to return to work.
Getting Ready for the Hearing
Providing medical evidence is only one aspect of establishing a solid case. A Social Security lawyer will also help clients prepare for their hearings, often with the help of the firm’s legal team. Most of this work will take place a month or two before the hearing.
During preparatory meetings, the attorney will give clients an idea about what to expect, including likely questions. Questions may cover the nature of the disability and its symptoms, what kind of medical treatments have been pursued, and whether clients are able to continue working in some capacity despite their disability
Clients should also expect to answer questions about what treatments they have received, what medications they are taking, and whether their disability affects their ability to perform basic daily functions. It’s also necessary for clients to disclose if they have been using drugs or alcohol since their injury or illness, and whether they are able to take care of personal hygiene and other essential tasks.
It is essential for clients to be honest with their attorneys during preparatory meetings, even if they are uncomfortable with the questions. The point of these meetings is to ensure that those filing disability claims are prepared for questions that may be asked during their hearings.
While it is acceptable for clients to ask why the information is necessary to establish a solid case, it’s never a good idea to lie. Everything shared in this meeting is protected by attorney-client privilege. Attorneys are there to help clients win their claims, not to judge them.
Those filing disability claims are permitted to bring a witness to testify about the claimant’s disability. Pursuing this path can be either helpful or harmful depending on the particulars of the case and the witness testimony. Attorneys will interview potential witnesses to determine if their testimony can be helpful, and may also request letters from former employers, caregivers or family members in support of their client’s disability claim.
The best way to win a case depends on the the client’s situation, which is why the initial interview and pre-hearing consultations are important. For those who have already had a claim denied, the lawyer will start out by reviewing the denial letter to determine why the claim was denied. They can then work toward resolving any issues in the client’s favor.
The attorney will then begin to focus on developing a theory that explains why his or her client’s disability falls under the Social Security Disability Law. There are three ways this can be accomplished. A lawyer can prove that his or her client’s condition meets an approved disability listing, prove that the client is unable to return to his or her previous work, or prove that the client’s non-exertional limitations prevent the claimant from being able to work.
To receive benefits, clients must prove they are unable to perform any kind of work, including sedentary or sit-down jobs. This often requires documentation of their symptoms, testimony from the claimants themselves or their treating doctors, and the compilation of objective medical evidence from their files. Once the groundwork for the client’s case has been laid out, he or she will be in a better position to address potential issues during the disability hearing.
Get Started Today
Readers who are thinking “But how can I find a Social Security attorney near me?” have come to the right place. Check out our website to learn more about one local law office that can help, or contact us today to schedule a consultation.