On a daily basis I meet with men and women who have been diagnosed with a medical condition serious enough to prevent them from working. They are faced with not only the long term prospect of fighting the enormous bureaucracy that is the Social Security Administration with their rules, red tape and confusing forms, but also with the immediate impact of losing all or most of their household’s income. This is as true in Pensacola, Fort Walton Beach and Crestview as it is anywhere in the United States.
It is at this point that people must make one of the most important and far reaching choices of their lives, often with no more help than an internet search or a phone book. The decision is whether to hire a Social Security Disability attorney, and more important, which Social Security Disability attorney to hire.
It is important to hire an attorney at the outset of your claim, and to hire the right attorney, to give yourself the best chance of success in your claim for disability benefits and to avoid a drawn-out and potentially unsuccessful claim resulting in a continuing loss of household income.
Improving your chances.
The first reason to hire an attorney to assist you with your claim for Social Security Disability benefits is that it will significantly improve your chances of a favorable outcome. The Social Security Disability process is a long and complicated legal proceeding that can last as long at thirty months or more and involve applying rules from hundreds or thousands of pages of federal statutes. Simple seeming mistakes like giving an incorrect onset of disability date or misclassifying your past work can result in months or years of delays, and if not fixed at or before your application is submitted can even result in loss of eligibility for benefits indefinitely. For most people the Social Security Disability application is their first and only time dealing with the process. For this reason alone, hiring a qualified Social Security Disability attorney is recommended due to their knowledge of the specific process. Which leads us to reason number two.
Helping you avoid the pitfalls.
The second reason to hire an attorney to assist you with your claim for Social Security Disability benefits is that a qualified Social Security Disability attorney is knowledgeable about the process, will advise you about common pitfalls, and will assist you in avoiding those pitfalls. A common pitfall in applying for Social Security Disability is unnecessarily padding your resume and over selling your past relevant work (work done over the past 15 years, full time). This can lead to Social Security denying your claim for months or years believing that you were management and capable of doing other desk-type work because you listed past work as assistant manager at Tom Thumb. Anyone who has been in a convenient store knows that there is no desk work in a chair all day for the people on the floor. Their job is stocking food and drinks, unloading trucks, and cleaning the store. Heavy work that Social Security can misidentify as sedentary work based on one wrong word. Hiring a Social Security Disability attorney can help you to avoid pitfalls like that and expedite your acceptance.
Helping you present your claim effectively.
A third reason to hire an attorney to assist you with your claim for Social Security Disability benefits is that an attorney will help you gather the data needed to present your claim effectively. There are two key pieces of data which must be collect to have a successful Social Security Disability claim. The first is medical records showing the severity of your medical condition. A common mistaken belief is that by simply providing Social Security with medical records showing how back your condition is that you will automatically be accepted and paid benefits. In reality, having routine and consistent medical treatment confirming a serious medical condition is only half the battle, albeit one that your attorney can help you document by securing medical records form all of you visits to all of your doctors. The second and more important piece of information that your attorney can help you obtain is written evidence from your treating doctor(s) about what limitations you would have at work as a result of the serious medical conditions diagnosed in your records. This is key information and reason enough alone to justify contacting a Social Security Disability attorney.
Presenting your claim for you.
The fourth and final reason to contact a Social Security Disability attorney is that an attorney will present your claim to the Administrative Law Judge in the way most likely to result in a favorable outcome. The sad truth is that Social Security has different rules for different age classifications where birthdays can be cause for sudden acceptance if requested and also quirky rules known as Listing of Impairments that can result in immediate acceptance if pointed out to the disability examiner. People often get caught up on which one of their multiple medical conditions is most severe and worthy of disability, but your attorney can use conditions that you may not have thought to be as serious or as primary of concerns to win your claim. Knowing the nuances of how to best present your claim comes with time and experience, which as addressed above is typically not something most applicants for Social Security Disability have with the process.
Free consultation with an experienced Social Security Disability lawyer.
In reality, there are many reasons to contact an experienced and qualified Social Security Disability attorney. In the end it comes down to the fact that Social Security Disability attorneys have the experience and familiarity with the Social Security red tape to know how to best move you through the confusion and get you accepted as quickly as possible. I have been specializing in Social Security Disability law since 2010 and have taken hundreds if not thousands of claims to hearing in the Florida Panhandle. Call, email or simply join our mailing list if you would like to know more about Social Security Disability or set an appointment to ask questions. Our initial appointments are always free and the sooner you call the sooner we can start avoiding those pitfalls together.