Dealing with the social security disability process can be frustrating, difficult, and intimidating. Unfortunately, the need to apply for SSDI can often make the process feel even more overwhelming. You most likely need the benefits the program provides, so wading through the application process and worrying about your approval chances can often add unnecessary stress.
Since you don't need an attorney to apply for social security disability insurance, many people go through the initial process independently and wait to hire a lawyer until their first denial. While you don't need to work with a lawyer initially, hiring one from the outset can offer several advantages.
Why Do SSDI Applications Get Denied?
Unfortunately, receiving disability insurance through the social security administration (SSA) can often be challenging. Individuals who qualify for SSDI must meet numerous criteria and present solid medical evidence of their condition. Unfortunately, these stringent requirements mean qualifying individuals may receive denials due to bureaucratic mistakes, incomplete documentation, or other technical issues.
To make matters worse, filing additional applications can increase the likelihood of future denials. This mistake often occurs because individuals don't understand the appeal process or mistakenly believe that filing another initial application instead of appealing will increase their odds. These repeated denials can substantially delay the time needed to start receiving payments.
How Can An Attorney Help?
There are four stages available during the SSDI application process:
- Initial Application
- Request for Reconsideration
- Administrative Law Judge Hearing
- Appeals Council Hearing
You can receive approval at any stage, although many applications will need to go through a request for reconsideration or a hearing. Working with an attorney can help you at each stage of the process. An experienced lawyer can review your documentation, help you acquire missing documentation, and provide additional advice to give your initial application the greatest chance of success.
More importantly, your lawyer can represent you in your dealings with the SSA during later stages. These later stages build on the evidence you provided during your initial application, so the help provided during that step will carry forward as you appeal the SSA's decision. If necessary, your lawyer will argue your case before an Administrative Law Judge or the SSA's Appeals Council.
When Should You Hire an Attorney?
You can begin working with an attorney anytime during your SSDI journey, including after an initial rejection. However, hiring a lawyer early in the process will often improve your odds of receiving your benefits quickly. You must wait five months after your approval to begin receiving payments, so the sooner you get approved, the sooner you can use your SSDI benefits to improve your life.
Working with a lawyer earlier also gives your attorney time to familiarize themselves with your case. Since they can help you review and collect documentation for your initial application, you'll have a stronger foundation for the appeals process. These advantages can add up, increasing your odds of approval and helping you get the help you need much sooner.
For more information, contact a Social Security Disability lawyer near you.