Getting a Georgia Social Security disability attorney improves the odds of success for your claim
Although you may file the initial application on your own, if your application is denied, dealing with the ensuing Social Security appeal process is much more difficult. You will be better off having a disability lawyer on your side.
In fact, government statistics indicate that claimants who are represented by an attorney at the hearing level are more likely to receive disability benefits than claimants who are not represented.
What to look for when hiring a Georgia Social Security disability attorney
There are several things that you might consider when you are trying to decide which Georgia disability lawyer you want to represent you:
Experience – It helps to have a disability lawyer who has experience handling Social Security disability cases. An attorney who knows the system, the people, the Social Security rules and regulations, and the case law is more likely to succeed.
Reputation – You want an attorney to represent you who is honest and has a history of working hard to get the best result for clients. Your attorney should be in good standing with the State Bar Association. Your attorney should also be a member of the National Organization of Social Security Claimants’ Representatives (NOSSCR) – a prominent organization of Social Security attorneys.
Results – An attorney who has a history of successes handling similar disability claims will be more likely to achieve the best possible decision for you and maximize your recovery.
Trust – It is important to have an attorney on board who you believe will give you sound advice and help you make good decisions; an attorney who is respected by judges and fellow lawyers.
Compassion – You want a disability lawyer who listens carefully to what you have to say about your injury or disability, and understands what you need to be able to get on with your life.
How will an Attorney Help?
An attorney will help you:
- Determine what benefits you are eligible for and whether you are likely to be considered “disabled” under Social Security rules and regulations.
- Complete all the necessary forms and paperwork, and continue to appeal your case through all administrative levels of appeal and into federal court, if necessary.
- Request a waiver of a time limit if you missed an appeal deadline and have good cause for your failure to appeal in a timely manner.
- Contact your medical providers and obtain copies of your records and request individualized reports that address your functional limitations and your disabilities in relation to Social Security’s disability categories.
- Arrange for additional medical exams or vocational evaluations, as necessary.
- Request a hearing before a Judge and prepare you and your case for the hearing.
- Prepare and submit a written brief to the Administrative Law Judge summarizing the evidence supporting your claim for Social Security benefits.
- Represent you at your hearing, present evidence on your behalf and question any expert witnesses who are called to testify.
- Re-open (if possible) your old applications for benefits so that you will be entitled to the largest possible lump sum payment of past due benefits.
- Review Social Security’s benefit calculations to insure that you are paid the correct amount of past due benefits and current monthly benefits.
- Answer any questions you might have about the Social Security process or your case.
An experienced Social Security lawyer will be familiar with the types of medical evidence needed to win a Social Security case. For example, your doctor may tell you that you are disabled and unable to work. Social Security will not accept a simple statement from your doctor that you are “disabled.” An experienced Social Security attorney will ask the doctor to prepare a detailed medical narrative report stating why you are disabled, how long your disability is expected to last, how you are limited from performing work tasks, and what tests were used to reach his conclusion.
The Social Security law actually contains detailed descriptions of hundreds of medical conditions that support a finding of disability – your lawyer can work with your doctor to determine whether your health problems fit into any of these categories, thereby making it easier for Social Security to find in your favor.
Your lawyer can help build a detailed medical record by referring you to a knowledgeable medical specialist, sometimes at Social Security’s cost, for an evaluation, but not treatment. Your lawyer can calculate your earliest possible disability date, thereby making you eligible for lump-sum retroactive benefits.
At the hearing level, your attorney can submit a pre-hearing brief to the judge in support of your disability claim (sometimes the judge will issue an “on the record” decision in your favor on the basis of your attorney’s report, therefore eliminating the need for you to appear at a hearing). Your lawyer can argue your case before the judge, ask you questions at the hearing designed to draw out favorable evidence, and cross examine any expert witnesses who are called to testify.