Whether you’ve been born with a disability or were hurt in an accident and can no longer work, you may need to hire an attorney to be approved for disability benefits. In most cases, the initial application and first appeal will be denied.
However, if you are persistent and make a second appeal with the help of a lawyer, the odds of your claim being approved increases. The second appeal is a hearing in front of a federal administrative judge who may approve your claim for these three reasons.
#1 – Your Case is Well-Documented
One reason you should hire a disability benefits lawyer is to ensure every piece of documentation which could help your case will be discovered and presented to the administrative law judge. When the ALJ considers your case after hearing testimony from both sides, the better your claim is documented, the more likely it will be approved. Some of the documentation judges will want to review include:
- Medical records relating to the disability.
- Letters from physicians about work limitations.
- Statements from friends or colleagues who have knowledge of your situation.
This documentation needs to be presented to the judge prior to the hearing, so you should be gathering it well in advance of the hearing date. If you’re missing any important documentation, you attorney will help gather it from doctors, hospitals or other sources relevant to your disability case.
#2 – Your Physicians Support Claim and Provide Opinions
When you or your attorney is gathering evidence for the judge, you will want to inform your physician(s) about the decision to file for disability if you haven’t previously discussed it with them. If you were severely injured in an accident or have a serious terminal or chronic illness, they may have already imposed limitations on your activities, including going to work. Ask your doctors to write letters supporting your disability claim in which they give the judge their opinion about your ability to support yourself.
Usually, the decision to approve a disability claim has nothing to do with your medical diagnosis, but the judge will review your case against the criteria the Social Security Administration has set for approval. However, the documentation can influence the judge’s decision, especially if your physicians say you are unable to work and support yourself due to your physical or mental limitations.
#3 – Other Evidence Persuades Judge
Other evidence presented to the judge overseeing your hearing can help persuade him or her that your condition warrants having your disability claim approved. This “other” evidence may include sworn affidavits from co-workers or friends, personnel records documenting how well you did at work prior to your accident or being diagnosed with a disease and your attendance records from work. If this evidence can corroborate your claim, the judge will be more likely to approve it.
The secret to a successful disability benefits claim is to present the judge with relevant documentation and records to support your claim and to have it presented professionally by the attorney you’ve hired to help you.
The article was written by the Phoenix Social Security Disability lawyers at Snow, Carpio & Weekley, PLC. You can find more info about social security disability claims in their blog post.