Applying for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits is often stressful. Many applicants are dealing with failing health and overwhelming life changes. If you choose to work with an SSDI lawyer on your case, there are many things they can do for you.
An SSDI lawyer will have a thorough knowledge of the Social Security process. They’ll also know what the Social Security Administration (SSA) needs to see to approve an application. If you run into problems with your claim, your SSDI lawyer will know what to do.
Here are some of the main things an SSDI will do when working your case. The exact actions will depend on your situation and needs. If you aren’t sure where you need help, reach out to a trusted lawyer for a free consultation.
Reviewing Your SSDI Case
First, your lawyer will carefully look over your case. Whether you still need to apply or want to appeal a denial, an SSDI lawyer will get familiar with your current situation.
If you received a denial letter from the SSA, the lawyer will look at denial reasons. They will use this information to prepare for the appeal.
Developing a Theory About Your Case
Your lawyer will create a story or “theory” about why you meet Social Security’s disability definition after reviewing your case. There are three main types of theories that your attorney could use:
- Your condition meets a Social Security disability listing.
- You “grid out” of any type of work.
- Your condition prevents you from doing even sedentary work.
Let’s look at each of these theories more closely to understand how your lawyer might argue them.
Social Security Disability Listing
The SSA has a Listing of Impairments in their Blue Book. The SSA provides criteria for how someone with a disabling condition can qualify for SSDI. If you have a condition in the Blue Book, the SSA will use the details under that condition to see if you’re eligible.
Your SSDI lawyer will look to see if your condition is on the list. If it is, your lawyer will look over the criteria. They will compare the information to the evidence surrounding your situation.
Your lawyer might have to get specific tests or see a SSA doctor. Additional medical records can support your listed condition. If there is not a strong argument here, your attorney will look at other theories.
Using the Grid System
Suppose someone doesn’t meet the criteria for a listed impairment. In that case, the SSA uses a grid of rules to determine if the applicant is disabled.
Grid rules include factors like:
- Residual functional capacity (RFC) level
- Work history
- Job skills
The Code of Federal Regulations Section 416.945 covers RFC. Your RFC is the most activity you can do with your condition. Your attorney might use the grid rules to show that you cannot adjust to even less taxing work.
If your medical condition is not based on physical disability, the grid rules will not apply. Grid rules are usually best for older applicants who have limited types of work they could possibly do.
Less Than Sedentary Work
If the two above options won’t work, your lawyer will work to prove that you cannot perform even sedentary work. Your lawyer will gather evidence to support this claim like:
- Your personal testimony
- Opinions from your doctors
- Your medical records
Your records might show that you cannot sit for prolonged periods or lift even light objects. If you cannot perform essential work, the SSA will have to decide you are disabled.
If you need a hearing to appeal a denial, your lawyer will prepare questions. They will ask you about hypothetical scenarios to rule out different types of work. Your answers can help show your physical limitations due to your disability.
Filling in Any Application Gaps
A widespread reason for SSDI denials is lack of information. An incomplete application can lead to denial even if your condition qualifies for benefits.
This is one of the most important reasons to contact a SSDI lawyer. A lawyer can fill in any gaps in your claim. They will know what your application is missing and how to fix it. Without a legal eye on your claim, it can be challenging to know what to change.
Gathering Medical Records and Evidence
You must have medical evidence of your disabling condition. The SSA will be looking for records to prove your disability.
An attorney can help you gather the right evidence to include in your claim. They can also help you obtain copies of records that are missing. If you have many medical records, your lawyer can look through all of them to determine what’s essential.
Representing You During the Appeal Process
The approval rate for SSDI is not high. Many people won’t get approval during the initial application. However, you have a higher chance of getting benefits after a hearing.
After denial, you can appeal the SSA’s decision. There are four stages of the appeal process:
- Request for reconsideration
- Administrative law judge hearing
- Appeals Council review
- Federal Court review
Your SSDI lawyer can help you with each appeal step. They will work to gather missing information to strengthen your claim. Your lawyer can also help prepare you for possible questions during the hearing.
Examples of questions you might get during a hearing include:
- Are you currently seeing a doctor for your condition?
- What treatments for your disease have you tried?
- How would you describe your specific symptoms?
- Are you currently working?
- Do you abuse illegal drugs or alcohol?
- Do you ever take more than the pain medication your doctor has prescribed?
- When did you first become unable to work?
- Are you able to take care of necessary activities — cleaning, cooking, personal hygiene, etc?
- What is your education level?
It’s essential to have a lawyer to which you can provide honest answers. Your attorney is here to help, not judge your situation. They will guide you to answer each hearing question accurately.
Your attorney can also consider witnesses to bring to your hearing. It’s crucial to choose witnesses carefully. Your lawyer can determine who is the best to bring for your case.
Talk to an Experienced SSDI Lawyer for Free Today
Although you do not have to hire a SSDI lawyer, we highly recommend it. An attorney can ensure you have the most persuasive case possible and be your most prominent advocate.
At John Foy & Associates, we make the process simple for you. We do not charge a fee unless we win your case. Plus, the consultation is 100% FREE.
To get started with a FREE consultation today, call (404) 400-4000, or contact us online.