What if I Don't Hire a Social Security Disability Appeal Lawyer?

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If you’ve received a medical denial for your Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Insurance (SSI) claim, your next steps may seem daunting. First things first: determine your next course of action. Should you move forward with an appeal on your own, or work with a local, qualified, Social Security disability appeal lawyer? 

What If I Handle My Appeal on My Own?

Generally, you have 60 days to request an appeal if your claim for SSDI/SSI has been denied. If you’ve been denied for medical reasons, this is called a Request for Reconsideration. You can request an appeal online, which may take up to an hour. You can also option to print the forms needed, fill them out by hand, and mail them to your local Social Security Administration office. If printing and mailing in your paperwork, please note that in addition to the appeal request form, you will need a paper "Disability Report - Appeal" (SSA-3441) and an "Authorization to Disclose Information to the Social Security Administration" (SSA-827). It’s best if you mail all paperwork together, completed and without errors. 

If you’re outside of the 60 days when you decide to appeal, generally you’ll have to file a new claim for disability benefits. However, there are opportunities for the Social Security Administration to determine that you had good cause for missing the appeal deadline. If your situation falls into this category, you may be granted an extension for good cause. 

Once you’ve filed your appeal on your own, you are solely responsible for gathering all medical paperwork and supporting documents. Click here for a list of the proper documentation you’ll need.

Representing yourself in a hearing also has its own set of challenges. If you request a hearing by an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ), you’ll need to overcome the reasons for your initial denial with additional supporting evidence and documentation. This can be a challenging position for you, as you may not know all the ins-and-outs of disability law, and what information to present that can help your case the most. 

That’s why it’s important to seek out a local, established, Georgia disability lawyer to assist.

What Happens If I Retain a Disability Appeal Lawyer to Assist With My Appeal? 

First of all, there is no such thing as an “appeal lawyer,” even though people often think of a lawyer who handles appeals as just that. In fact, for your SSDI or SSI medical appeal, you’ll need to choose a local, qualified disability attorney at this stage of your case. They can assist you with your appeal from filing to hearing, and can best represent you and the facts of your case to an ALJ for the best possible outcome to your appeal. 

It's important to call an attorney as soon as possible so that your attorney has sufficient time to develop the case and file the appeal. There are multiple levels of appeal, and there may be multiple rounds of appeals, and multiple hearings. An attorney is there to advise you to file timely, to suggest what types of appeals to file, and to prepare you for next steps after that appeal has been filed. They also make sure you don’t miss important details regarding medical records, dealing with the hearing office, and in-between steps that you, as the claimant, either won't want to deal with or won’t have the time to do alone.

Once you’ve filed your appeal, you will still likely have a long road to actually receiving your benefits. Be patient and organized. With the right legal team, you are on your way to presenting the best possible case for your appeal. 

Disability Facts: 

  • In a hearing, the SSA doesn’t have attorneys working on their behalf to prevent you from gaining benefits. By hiring an attorney, you have an advantage. Your attorney must only convince the judge and not face a counter argument against your position. 
  • Most SSDI recipients receive between $800 and $1800 a month in benefits, depending on how much they paid into Social Security when working. 
  • Although there are an estimated 40 million disabled Americans today, fewer than 10 million receive SSDI or SSI benefits. 

An SSDI/SSI Attorney Doesn’t Charge Upfront

It’s important for you to know that an SSI lawyer collects a fee only if they win your case. There is no upfront cost to you to seek legal representation, and if your claim is eventually denied, you won’t owe your SSI lawyer any fees. If you win your case, an SSI lawyer will be paid directly from the Social Security Administration from your past-due benefits, known as backpay. That fee will typically be 25% of your backpay but not to exceed $6,000, whichever is less. 

Benefits of a Free Case Evaluation:

  1. You get the information you need to proceed.
  2. The fee is the same whether you contact an attorney one week or one year before an SS hearing. In fact, many attorneys will not want to accept a case extremely late in the process. The earlier you contact an attorney, the more they can help guide your case.
  3. There is only a fee if you win your case. 

The law can be complex at times. It also frequently changes. The best attorneys are experts at what they do because they have a real passion for the law and for their clients. Attorneys with specific practice areas like workers’ compensation and disability are passionate about these areas of law and about the clients that they can help with their expertise. 

At Affleck & Gordon, we’re passionate about the law, and compassionate for our clients. We’ve specialized in Social Security Disability law in Georgia for four decades, and we’re here to help you, too. 

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