What does a disability attorney do?

The process for acquiring social security disability (SSD) benefits through the government is a complicated one. In theory, anyone who has suffered a debilitating condition should be able to receive SSD if the medical condition keeps a person out of work for at least a year. Widows or widowers with debilitating medical conditions may also be qualified to receive benefits. Finally, an adult child with a long-term debilitating medical condition may also receive SSD in some circumstances.

Even though the eligibility requirements seem clear, many people are rejected, leaving them without financial support, even though they cannot work. A lawyer works to help these people by filing appeals, organizing evidence on behalf of the victim and representing them during the hearing. This support can help overturn an unfair decision by the government and get a person the benefits they need and deserve.

When should a person contact a disability attorney for help?

In the past, most applicants would only seek help from a lawyer after they had been rejected for SSD benefits since the government dismisses most appeals. The chances of a person eventually receiving SSD plummet if they are rejected initially. A lawyer specialized in organizing appeals can help disrupt this pattern, dramatically increasing the chances that an appeal board will pay attention to a person’s claim and review it thoroughly.

In recent years, many lawyers will work with SSD applicants before they even file their initial request for benefits. This is so an applicant can maximize their chances for SSD from the outset. Sometimes, an applicant has a condition that is hard to demonstrate medically or doesn’t fall under the Social Security Administration’s (SSA) standard list of debilitating conditions. In those cases, a legal ally may be essential to making a strong case for SSD.

What kinds of cases will a disability attorney work with?

In general, this type of lawyer can help most people who:

  • Are currently not working
  • Have a debilitating medical condition that keeps them from working
  • Are not able to work in other fields due to their condition
  • Have built up enough work credits to meet eligibility standards

When a U.S. citizen performs a job that generates taxable wages, they start earning work credits. Before a person is eligible for SSD, they must have earned enough credits. Only in very rare and extreme circumstances will a person manage to attain SSD if they have not earned work credits.

What is the appeals process for a person looking to dispute a rejection?

More than half of initial SSD requests are denied, so the appeals process has been well defined for those that want to be reconsidered. As soon as an applicant is rejected, they may request that the SSA review their application again. The SSA will then inform the applicant whether or not the appeals process will continue.

If an applicant is eligible for a hearing, the applicant will have a chance to gather evidence and supporting witnesses before presenting their case before an Administrative Law Judge. A lawyer can oversee this process and argue on the applicant’s behalf. At this point, if the appeal is not accepted, the applicant may request a review of the appeal or file a case against the SSA itself.