Should I hire a Social Security Disability attorney?

There are three primary stages of a Social Security Disability claim, the Initial Application, Reconsideration Appeal, and Hearing stage. You do not necessarily need to have an attorney at any stage, but having an attorney could be very useful, especially at the hearing level. We have taken cases at all stages; however when dealing with new cases that are already at the hearing level, we sometimes see information that is missing or incomplete. If we assisted in the prior stages, we could have corrected this information or supplemented the record, which could have resulted in your case being awarded much early on in the process.

Aside from that, we can offer key insights into how to complete the forms that SSA sends you to help you get approved much quicker. Therefore, even before you think about applying, you should at least contact a disability attorney to discuss your case and get some tips on how to file your case. If you are denied, we highly recommend getting an attorney. Chances of being awarded with an attorney are much higher than if you pursued the claim on your own. 

What should I do if I get denied my Social Security Disability Benefits?

First, look at the date of your denial letter and make note of the appeal deadline. You typically have 60 days to file an appeal on your case. It is important that you do not miss this deadline. Next, read the denial letter carefully to find out why you have been denied. Was it due to a lack of work credits or or you over the resource limit?  Did they find your impairments or limitations were not severe enough? Or is SSA saying you are able to perform a past job or other work?

If you were not denied for a technical reason, such as lack of work credits, then you should definitely pursue an appeal. If you have questions on your denial or want advice on how to strengthen your case for appeal, you should contact an attorney to discuss your claim and appeal rights. 

Can I work while attempting to collect Social Security Disability Benefits?

Under Social Security's rules, you are allowed to work as long as you earn below Substantial Gainful Activity (SGA).  This amount varies by the calendar year. The current amount for non-blind workers in 2017 is $1,170 per month, gross. However, SGA is not always calculated simply by your earnings alone. SSA usually looks to other factors, such as the amount and type of work performed. More information on this can be found by clicking here.

It is also helpful for your doctor to limit your work hours by placing restrictions on what you can do.  You may also be allowed the ability to work for a Trial Work Period or your work, although substantial, could be deemed an unsuccessful work attempt.  For more information on how your work affects your claim, or if you have already applied and want to return to work, you should contact us to discuss your options and rights. You may still be compensated for the time you were off work and disabled, even though you have recovered. 

What if Social Security is requesting that I see one of their doctors?

If Social Security sent you a notice to see one of their physicians, sometimes referred to a a "Consultative Examination," that usually means that they do not have enough medical information on your claim to make a decision and therefore, an exam by a doctor is necessary.  Examinations are fairly common and happen very often when people apply for Social Security benefits.

Social Security will usually have you see a specialist, such a physical doctor or mental health practitioner. Even though these exams are routine in nature, you should still contact an attorney to discuss what will happen at the exam and what to keep a look out for. We are happy to give you tips and insights and ultimately, guide you on being successful with your claim. 

If I get denied, should I pursue an appeal or reapply?

If you applied for benefits on your own and have been denied, you either have the option of appealing your case or reapplying. The majority of the time, the best course of action is to pursue an appeal. If you instead reapply, you give up your rights to any past-due benefits you may have had in your old claim. Appealing also gives you the right to request for a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge. Often times, this is in your best interest to do so since many cases are awarded before Judges at the hearing level. If you have been denied and are thinking of appealing or reapply, you should contact us first to discuss the best option to choose. 

Do I need a representative at my Social Security Disability Hearing?

Social Security does not require you to have a representative at your hearing. You are free to represent yourself or hire an attorney. Accordingly to Social Security, people represented by attorneys have a better chance of obtaining benefits than if they represented themselves. At Operana Law, we have successfully tried hundreds of cases and have been before dozens of Administrative Law Judges. We have the edge and can give you the upper hand you need to be successful in your case. If you are debating proceeding to your hearing without an attorney, we ask that you at least give us a call to discuss your rights and what will happen at the hearing. There is no obligation and the advice for your hearing is free. 

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we are here to give you all of the information you need and to answer all the questions you may have.

common Social security questions & answers