Do I Need to Hire an Attorney for Disability Claims?
A claimant is not required to hire an attorney for disability claims. Nevertheless, he or she can choose to hire an attorney to maximize his or her chances of being successful with a disability claim. Studies have shown that a professional representative boosts the chances of claimant approval for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI).
Understanding why claimants who are represented by an attorney are more likely to be awarded disability benefits can help a person determine whether he or she should hire a legal representative.
Gathering the Necessary Documentation
Attorneys for disability claims understand the SSDI and SSI application processes. They fill out the applications on people’s behalf and help gather the necessary medical documentation from doctors and hospitals. Attorneys also help people gather other evidence supporting their claims and proving their eligibility for benefits, and they ensure all paperwork is in order.
An attorney can accompany a claimant to any interviews or conferences that the claimant has with the Social Security Administration (SSA). The attorney can access information from a claimant’s Social Security file and give the claimant updates whenever they become available.
Application errors are one of the leading causes of benefit denial. Mistakes can compromise people’s eligibility even if they have legitimate disabilities. An attorney for disability claims can review a person’s application for omissions or mistakes that could hurt the person’s chances of achieving success. An attorney can provide guidance throughout the SSI and SSDI claims processes to prevent people from making application errors.
Representing People at the Necessary Appeals
Having an attorney can be beneficial when a person’s claim is denied and the person has to file an appeal. If a person’s claim proceeds to the hearing level, an attorney will prepare the person and his or her witnesses for the task of testifying at an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) hearing.
During the hearing, the attorney will question the expert witnesses the SSA presents and guide a claimant’s testimony to allow the judge to better understand how the claimant’s disability has affected his or her life. According to a Government Accountability Office (GAO) study, individuals who are represented at hearings are close to three times more likely to be awarded disability benefits than the people without representatives.