Why Hire A Lawyer?
The informality of Social Security hearings makes it possible for some claimants to represent themselves. However, a person's chances of success are improved when that person is represented by an experienced lawyer who is knowledgeable about the applicable laws, regulations, and rulings.
What can a lawyer do for me that I can't do for myself?
In deciding disability claims, the Social Security Administration is required to follow the Social Security Act, and its published regulations and rulings. In addition to these legal authorities, the Administration also has published policy manuals that guide its actions. These sources are lengthy, and they can be confusing. Without first understanding all of the relevant rules for proving your disability, you may end up spending time and energy proving the wrong things, or you may overlook crucial information that should have been presented. In addition, sometimes the Social Security Administration tries to take actions that are not in a claimant's best interest and not in keeping with the law. Unless you are familiar with all of the applicable rules, though, you may not realize this. A knowledgeable, experienced social security lawyer can apply his familiarity with the rules to your individual situation. This way, your efforts to prove your disability will be more effective and your legal rights will be protected.
What are some specific things that a lawyer would do for me?
Every case is different, and what a lawyer would do depends upon the particular facts of your case. But, some of the things an attorney might do include:
- Analyze your case under Social Security rules and determine what evidence will be needed to prove your disability
- Explain to you the disability appeals process and what all will need to be proven in order to win your disability claim and answer any questions you may have
- Assist you in completing Social Security questionnaires and other documents so that your answers are not misconstrued later
- Obtain documents from your Social Security file
- Review your doctors' records to determine whether any entries need further clarification
- Seek opinions from your doctors as to how your medical conditions affect your ability to work and assist your doctors in expressing those opinions in a way that is meaningful under the Social Security rules and regulations
- Protect your right to a fair hearing by objecting to improper evidence or procedures
- Present a summary of the evidence and written arguments explaining how the evidence satisfies the legal requirements for disability
- Cross examine adverse witnesses
- Ask that a prior application for benefits be reopened
- Explain what to expect at your disability hearing and advise you how best to prepare yourself to testify
- Seek waiver of a time limit
- Request review of the hearing decision by the Appeals Council if you lose at your hearing
- Represent you in a federal court review of your case if necessary