With many Social Security administrative law judges allowing fewer claims at the hearing level, the initial application for disability benefits deserves much more attention. The allowance rates from the state DDS agencies are just as high as the allowance rate of some ALJs. That means that your initial application is more important than ever. The opportunity to obtain disability benefits at the initial application should not be squandered.
I recently assisted a new client over the telephone with his initial application for Social Security disability benefits. It went very well. I asked questions, the client answered, and I typed the application right then as we spoke. As we were completing the application, I was able to counsel the client on what to expect from the disability claim process, the importance of fully describing past relevant work, and why the SSA was asking certain questions in the application.
I have done this before, of course, but this recent experience made me realize that I should do it more often, because it is a valuable service to a new client, and it starts the claim process on the right foot.
There are several benefits of working with an experienced Social Security disability attorney at the very beginning of your disability claim.
- The disability claim is supported by a winning theory of the case.
- The issues in the claim are properly framed from the beginning.
- Common mistakes, such as not properly describing past relevant work, are avoided.
- You have a guide throughout the disability claim process.
- I make a plan for obtaining the medical evidence (particularly the medical opinion evidence) that you will need to support your claim.
- The claim may be decided more quickly, because your attorney will keep in touch with the SSA on the status of the claim, and supply any missing evidence.
- If necessary, an appeal will be filed quickly.
- You pay no attorney fee unless the claim is successful.
One of the benefits of having legal help with the application over the telephone is that you do not need to have a nearby lawyer who specializes in Social Security disability law. Because Social Security is a federal program, an attorney anywhere in the country can assist you with your claim. And the various states follow the same rules, embodied in Social Security's Program Operation Manual System (POMS), when making a benefits determination.
Legal assistance with the disability application is particularly important for those age 55 or older, because your vocational background plays a major role in the determination.
Apply for disability benefits on the phone with a lawyer