Applying for Social Security Disability can be a daunting process. Unfortunately, filing a successful application is even more difficult. In fact, according to the Social Security Administration, the award rate for claims like yours is less than 30 percent. If you have applied for Social Security Disability and received a denial, you still have options. You may be able to get the benefits you need by filing a disability reconsideration appeal. Your chances of success in this process will be greater if you hire a competent attorney.
After you file your initial Social Security Disability application and receive a denial, there are several levels of appeals you may use to try and reverse this decision. These levels of appeal are as follows:
- Administrative Hearing
- Appeals Council
- Federal District Court
Each of these levels of appeal gives you a chance to present evidence and attempt to overturn the original denial. In general, you will have a better chance of success at each of these levels if you have assistance and representation from a qualified attorney.
You are not required to hire an attorney in order to submit a reconsideration. However, hiring a disability attorney may improve your chances at any stage in the appeal process. If you hire an attorney, this professional will be able to review your original application and the denial letter in hopes of determining what caused your claim to be denied. The attorney will be able to help you correct any errors on your application and/or strengthen the application by adding additional evidence. If your appeal is successful at this stage, it can save you a substantial amount of time and ensure that you get your disability benefits as soon as possible.
Many applicants are concerned about the cost of hiring a disability attorney. However, keep in mind that your Social Security Disability attorney will usually be subject to limitations when it comes to charging a fee. In most cases, federal law limits the amount a disability attorney can charge to the smaller of 25 percent of your backpay or $6,000. In rare situations where the disability appeals process requires years of hearings and work, the attorney may be able to petition the Social Security Administration for permission to collect a higher fee. However, this loophole will not apply to the typical reconsideration appeal.
Since Social Security Disability attorneys are all subject to the same fee limitations, you won’t have to worry as much about cost when selecting an attorney. However, there are still other characteristics you should consider to ensure that you are making the best choice. Some of the factors to consider as you look for the right attorney include:
- Experience – In general, it is best to choose an attorney who is experienced in fighting for disability benefits. Attorneys who have more experience will have a better understanding of the disability appeals process. They will be able to quickly identify the issues that led to your original denial so you can work to reverse them. They will also be able to give you a better idea of the likelihood that your claim will be approved at this stage.
- Education – When hiring an attorney for any purpose, it is always a good idea to consider that attorney’s educational background. Make sure the attorney you hire attended a reputable law school and studied the area of law in question.
- Focus – Some attorneys focus their practice entirely on Social Security Disability appeals, while others may have multiple practice areas. Typically, you can expect better results from an attorney who focuses solely on Social Security Disability law, as they will be able to provide a better level of service with fewer distractions. Those attorneys that focus on one area of the law also tend to have a deeper knowledge of their specific field.
- Confidence – Different attorneys may have different levels of confidence when it comes to the ultimate outcome of your case. Attorneys who don’t believe you have any hope are unlikely to work as hard to get your application approved. However, an attorney who believes you deserve Social Security Disability and that you will be able to win an appeal is more likely to put forth their best effort.
- Your level of comfort – One of the most important factors to consider when hiring a Social Security Disability is your own level of comfort with each attorney you consider. Choosing an attorney who puts you at ease is always recommended. The process of appealing a Social Security Disability denial is stressful enough on its own, so you need an attorney who makes you feel more calm and comfortable.
When appealing a Social Security Disability denial with the help of an attorney, follow the tips below for the best results.
After you receive notice of your initial denial, you will have only a limited amount of time in which to file your appeal for reconsideration. If you do not file your appeal before this deadline has passed, you will have to start all over with a new application, which could cost you hundreds or even thousands of dollars in Social Security Disability benefits, as well as time and effort. For this reason, it is important to start looking for an attorney immediately as soon as you become aware of the denial.
The more information you give your attorney, the better equipped he or she will be to construct a solid reconsideration appeal. Be sure to provide your attorney with detailed information about your work history, the nature of your disability, your medical records, and any other documents or facts the attorney requests. If your attorney has any questions about your case, be sure to answer them honestly and as thoroughly as possible.
As your attorney prepares your reconsideration, additional questions may come up. If your attorney contacts you for more information or wants to schedule a meeting, make yourself available as soon as you can to prevent any delays. It is essential to submit the appeal before the deadline has passed. The sooner you have completed the preparation process, the sooner your appeal will be reviewed.
Unfortunately, many reconsideration appeals are ultimately denied, even when substantial evidence is provided. Ask your attorney to tell you how likely an approval will be in your case so you know what to expect. Remember that even if the reconsideration appeal is denied, there are several other levels of appeal still available to you.
The large majority of Social Security Disability applications are denied at first. However, by filing a disability reconsideration appeal, you have another chance at approval. Hiring an attorney to help you with this appeal is highly recommended, as the attorney will have experience and expertise in this area of law.