I have made a concerted effort over the past few months to become more involved with clients making an initial application for Social Security disability benefits. It can be very important to have the assistance of an attorney with the initial claim, particularly for claimants age 55 and over.
I was notified yesterday that two of my recent initial claims have been approved by Social Security. In one case, the client applied for disability benefits and hired me soon after. In the other case, I made an initial application for benefits with the client over the telephone. The telephone claim, where I was involved at the very beginning, took less than three months to be approved and has already been paid.
For the lawyer, working on an initial application for disability benefits means that the time required to get to know a client's case is spent at the very beginning of the claim.
For the client, getting help during the application process means that common mistakes are avoided, all the necessary details are included, and the initial application is supported by a winning theory of the case.
For me personally, receiving these two approvals on the same day is a validation of my approach to initial disability claims, and demonstrates the value of having a lawyer involved at the application stage of the disability claim process. Both clients are immensely relieved to have the claim process over, and each is now receiving benefits rather than waiting for a Reconsideration determination and a hearing before an administrative law judge.
Both clients ended up paying a smaller attorney fee than if their claims had gone to a hearing. That does not bother me, because I can focus on the next important case. But the clients are pretty happy about it. Read more about attorney fees in Social Security cases.
Even for claim not approved right away, early assistance from a Social Security disability lawyer is helpful for the claim, because the issues are properly framed from the beginning. But with help during the application process, it is possible to receive disability benefits sooner (and to pay a smaller fee).
Apply for disability benefits on the phone with a lawyer