What does a Social Security Disability Attorney do After You Have Been Denied Disability?
You are not required by law to have an attorney handle your appeal for Social Security Disability. However, hiring a lawyer for your case greatly improves your chances of getting benefits. The statistics show that you are twice as likely to win your case with a lawyer then to attempt to appeal unrepresented.
The first level of appeals for disability is called reconsideration. If you have been denied, then you can request a hearing with an administrative law judge. At a hearing the ALJ will consider medical evidence, your testimony and any other testimony to decide if you are disabled.
The first thing that a disability attorney will do is gather your medical records and see if they need any updating. There may be gaps or inconsistent reports in your records, and the attorney will ensure that there are no problems.
The next thing that your lawyer will do is to obtain written opinions from your doctors about your ability to work. Doctors are more likely to respond to the request of an attorney than a patient. Additionally, if the evidence from your doctor is too weak to support your claim, tests can be ordered through the SSA.
Your lawyer can also help you prepare for the questioning by the judge. Going over your testimony before the hearing can help you overcome any nervousness that you might have. It can also prevent you from making any mistakes during the questioning.
A critical part of the hearing process is when the judge consults with a Vocational Expert about what they feel you can do work wise. The Vocational Expert bases their opinion on the medical evidence that is put forward. What is special about what your attorney can do for you comes out in the cross examination of the Vocational Expert. Your lawyer will know the evidence much better than the Vocational Expert and can argue well for your inability to do any work. It is very difficult to do this cross examination yourself.
Finally, a disability attorney can use their personal knowledge of the ALJ to your benefit. Your attorney will know the style and personality of the ALJ that will preside over your hearing. This will allow them to tailor make the presentation and argument before that judge. Also, a disability lawyer can help you skip the hearing and go straight to approval if you are eligible for what is called an on-the-record-decision.
All in all, it is not a good idea to handle an appeal by yourself. An attorney can help you to make sure that your claim is not denied.