Social Security & Disability
When a person files a disability claim application, the Social Security Administration follows specific federal laws, regulations and procedures in deciding whether benefits are payable. The Social Security Administration uses a procedure known as the sequential evaluation process. For adults, this process requires step-by-step review of your current work activity, the severity of your impairment, your remaining physical and mental abilities, your past work and your age, education and work experience.
For children applying for Supplemental Security Income, the process requires sequential review of the child’s current work activity, if any, the severity of his or her impairment and an assessment of whether the impairment results in marked and severe functional limitations. Many people wait until it is time to request a hearing before contacting us to represent them. Everyone agrees that a lawyer’s help is essential at the hearing and the majority of people who have lawyers win their cases at a hearing. But, a lawyer can be helpful in winning your disability case at the early stages of the disability claim application process. If you are successful in handling the case yourself at the initial or reconsideration steps, you will save having to pay attorney’s fees. But, it is hard to predict which cases may benefit from a lawyer’s help early on.
Our law firm can assist someone who is filing a new application. We can get involved in cases before the initial determination is issued. Although the application process is usually handled properly, it does happen that a claimant points out to us an obvious and quite unusual legal problem with a case. Or, occasionally the Social Security Administration will improperly classify the claim application or the claimant does not understand all the claim options available when filing claims.
If a claimant asks us to get involved at the reconsideration stage, we will evaluate the case even though cases are harder to evaluate at this stage than they are at the hearing stage. Sometimes it is even hard to tell if a claimant will be disabled for 12 months, which is required by the Social Security Act. And it is harder to get access to a file at the Social Security Field Office if we have questions. If you want us to consider representing you at the reconsideration stage, we may ask you to do more work gathering records so that we have enough information to evaluate your case. If you want us to consider becoming involved in your case at the initial or reconsideration steps, please telephone us to discuss your situation.