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Hiring A Disability Attorney For Your Hearing

Posted on in Social Security Disability

"Do you think it is important whether I obtain a disability lawyer to help me with my disability benefits claim? I asked Social Security and they seem to think I do not need anybody to help me with my case."

I received the following question the other day and wanted to give a brief response. The short answer is YES. The overwhelming majority of claims are denied. Hiring a Social Security disability attorney can in many cases significantly improve your chances of winning. Social Security's regulations of vast and complex. Sometimes it may seem as though the government simply does not want to pay anybody (if the process were easy you would have been approved and not had to go to a hearing). As with anything, hiring someone focused on a particular trade or skill for a unique specialized task will in most cases give you a competitive advantage over those who do not.

As for Social Security's opinion, I would take everything they say with a grain of salt. They may tell you privately that you do not need anybody to help you or that getting disability benefits is easy, but there are certain regulations in place specifically to govern what the Administration tells you at a hearing. HALLEX I-2-6-52 provides in pertinent part, "If the claimant is unrepresented, the ALJ should ensure on the record that the claimant has been properly advised of the right to representation and that the claimant is capable of making an informed choice about representation." The rule goes on to require a judge to "secure on the record the claimant's decision concerning representation." In other words, Social Security's own regulations acknowledge the importance of a claimant's right to representation. If there was no difference whether a claimant hired a disability lawyer or not, it is logical to think Social Security would not have created this rule. Although privately some of their employees may tell you that representation is a waste of time, particularly at the local field offices, HALLEX specifically requires them to say otherwise at your disability hearing.

Getting Social Security disability benefits can be extremely challenging, even for someone who does this type of work full-time for a living. I strongly encourage those getting ready for a hearing to seek out legal representation and ask questions to become more familiar with the disability process.


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