Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits provide an important safety net for hundreds of thousands of U.S. citizens who can’t work due to serious injuries or illnesses. Unfortunately, the process involved in applying for those benefits can be a stressful and intimidating one — so much so that many people turn back before they even start.
Applying for SSD benefits doesn’t have to be an overwhelming process, especially when you partner with an attorney like David L. Hood who has experience working with the Social Security Administration (SSA) and handling disability claims. In this article, we’ll explore several important reasons to hire a lawyer for your SSD claim.
SSD Lawyers May Provide Expertise, Experience, and Resources
While some people can successfully apply on their own and receive approval for SSD benefits, statistics consistently show that the SSA is more likely to approve an applicant who retains legal counsel.
Beyond just giving your case the best chance, though, there are other important arguments in favor of hiring an attorney to handle your case — including the massive amount of time and effort that can go into getting an SSD claim approved.
To help you make your decision about whether an SSD lawyer is right for you, below are five of the most important reasons to consider working with an experienced attorney to handle your Social Security Disability claim.
#1: Most SSD claims are initially denied.
As we’ve discussed before, the majority of SSD claims (65%) get denied at first. Not only that, but the rate of denial for claims on appeal is even higher. Unfortunately, many SSD claimants who receive a denial notice never pursue their claim any further.
RELATED: Here’s What to Do When Your Social Security Disability Claim is Denied
An experienced Social Security Disability lawyer can evaluate your case with a critical eye and assess any strengths and weaknesses so you have a good idea from the outset about your odds for success. They can also help you through the complex application process and use their expertise, knowledge of the law, and medical resources to argue on your behalf during an appeal. Sometimes, just knowing you have an expert advocate on your side is enough to keep you going through the challenges involved in a typical SSD claim.
#2: SSD cases often take years to resolve.
Like most processes involving government bureaucracies, applying for disability benefits is not a speedy affair. SSD claims can take anywhere from a few months to several years to resolve. Most cases end up going to a hearing, which typically takes place around 15 months after the second denial of benefits.
The paperwork and recordkeeping involved in filing an SSD claim is a lot to deal with for a person who is suffering from a serious injury or illness. Plus, managing a disability case for several years can be frustrating and exhausting. Hiring an experienced attorney can allow you to focus on your health and other aspects of your life without constantly working on (and stressing over) your case.
#3: Many SSD applicants are denied benefits for reasons that have nothing to do with their disability or medical condition.
A 2010 report from the Social Security Administration showed that 31% of SSD applicants (more than 878,000 in total) received denials for reasons that had nothing to do with their medical condition. Instead, their applications were denied for technical reasons before anyone from the SSA even examined the medical facts and circumstances of their case.
This rate of technical denials might sound shockingly high, but it’s easy to understand once you see how complex the paperwork for an SSD claim is. Considering the high overall denial rate for claims, you can’t afford to make any mistakes that will make your claim even more likely to be rejected. Working with an experienced Social Security Disability lawyer is one of the best ways to make sure that your appeals are filled out accurately and completely so your claim has the best possible chance of success.
#4: Evidence shows that hiring an SSD attorney improves your chances of receiving benefits.
An experienced Social Security Disability lawyer should know what’s required for your claim to succeed, and they should be able to guide and advise you at every step of the complex appeals process. Put simply, an SSD lawyer should have the experience and expertise that an average person doesn’t, and that could mean the difference between winning your case and losing.
The positive effect an experienced attorney can have on your claim’s chances for success isn’t just a theory, either. Data gathered from SSD appeals shows that 60% of disability claims are approved by an administrative judge when the case is presented by an attorney. On the other hand, a claim has only a 40% chance for approval when the person appealing doesn’t have legal representation.
Not only that, but in a September 2012 report, the Social Security Advisory Board said the help of a third-party representative with a thorough knowledge of SSA policy “has the potential to greatly expedite the disability determination process while ensuring that the claimant receives the most informed determination possible at the initial claims stage.”
#5: You won’t have to pay your SSD lawyer unless you receive benefits.
Most experienced Social Security Disability lawyers — including David L. Hood — handle SSD cases on a contingent fee basis, which means that you won’t have to pay any attorney’s fees unless your lawyer wins your case.* You simply meet with your attorney at an initial consultation (which should be free, like it is at the Law Offices of David L. Hood) and agree to let them handle your case. Then, you pay them only if your SSD application or appeal succeeds.
If you’re skeptical about a lawyer working for you at no up-front cost and taking on all the risk for your case, consider it a rare case where the playing field is level for everyone. Contingent fees are important in this area of the law because most people who are applying for SSD benefits wouldn’t be able to afford a lawyer if they had to pay up front, and they deserve the same access to quality legal counsel that a person of means would enjoy.
Overall, on the question of whether to hire an attorney, there’s no single right answer that applies to every disability case. However, if you choose to go it alone, understand that SSD claims tend to be complicated and time-consuming — so unless you feel like becoming a Social Security Disability lawyer for the next few months or even years, you might be best served by getting in touch with one.
The Law Offices of David L. Hood: Representing Social Security Disability Applicants in North Myrtle Beach, Myrtle Beach, Murrells Inlet, Georgetown, and Throughout Georgetown and Horry Counties
Filing a Social Security Disability claim and seeing the process through can be a long and challenging journey, but for SSD applicants in South Carolina, Attorney David L. Hood is here to help. With years of experience representing clients throughout the SSD filing and appeals processes, David L. Hood will fight to make sure that your claim receives full and fair consideration, and he will pursue every avenue available to get you the benefits you deserve.
To speak with Attorney David L. Hood about your case at no risk to you, call The Law Offices of David L. Hood at (843) 491-6025 or fill out our convenient online contact form and we’ll get in touch shortly to schedule your free initial consultation.
*Clients are not liable for any expenses, unless there is a recovery in their case; however, if there is a recovery in their case, clients will be liable for expenses. Attorney’s fees are based on a percentage of the recovery, which will be computed before deducting expenses.
Moore, T. (n.d.). What will a disability lawyer do to win a Social Security case? Social Security Disability Resource Center. Retrieved from http://www.ssdrc.com/disabilityquestions4-61.html
Social Security Administration. (2010). Annual statistical report on the Social Security Disability Insurance Program: Outcomes of applications for disability benefits. Washington, DC: Social Security Office of Retirement and Disability Policy. Retrieved from https://www.ssa.gov/policy/docs/statcomps/di_asr/2010/sect04.html
The content provided here is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice on any subject.