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Social Security disability attorney, Chicago disability benefits lawyer, Social Security regulations, disability claims, disability caseMany people are hesitant to hire a Social Security disability attorney because they fear the potential cost of representation. This is understandable. After all, if you are unable to work and struggling to make ends meet, the last thing you want to do is worry about paying a large legal bill.

But what you should understand is that under Social Security regulations, your lawyer works on a contingency basis. This means you do not owe the attorney anything unless your disability claim is successful. When you hire a disability lawyer, you will need to sign a contingency agreement authorizing the Social Security Administration to pay the attorney out of your final benefits award.

Compensation as a Percentage of “Past Due” Benefits

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Chicago Social Security disability attorney, disability benefits, medical evidence, disability claim, disability caseSocial Security disability regulations are quite clear about how an administrative law judge (ALJ) is supposed to treat medical evidence: “Regardless of its source, we will evaluate every medical opinion we receive.” This does not mean the ALJ must accept every medical opinion offered. Rather, the regulations require Social Security to consider any expert testimony regarding the applicant's disability and reconcile any potentially conflicting or contrary evidence. Still, the ALJ cannot simply refuse to acknowledge a medical opinion just because he or she disagrees with it.

Appeals Court Finds ALJ “Failed to Confront” Medical Evidence

No matter what the regulations say, however, many ALJs are far too eager to take shortcuts, especially when they have preemptively decided to deny a disability claim. Consider a recent decision by the U.S. Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals here in Chicago. A 67-year old man first applied for Social Security disability benefits five years ago. The plaintiff, a military veteran and former insurance agent, told Social Security he has been unable to work since 2011 due to a variety of severe impairments, including “his spinal arthritis, hip and knee pain, and impaired hearing.”

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Chicago disability benefits lawyer, disability hearings, complete medical record, disability applicants, disability caseOne of the most important steps you can take when applying for Social Security Disability insurance benefits is to present as complete a medical record as possible to the agency officials reviewing your case. The more documentation you can provide from your treating physicians, the stronger your case for disability benefits will be.

Judge Criticizes Social Security for Ignoring “Overwhelming Majority of the Evidence” in Disability Case

Of course, this assumes Social Security will actually bother to look at the evidence that you provide. As we have seen in far too many Illinois disability claims, that is sadly often not the case, however. In their zeal to clear large case backlogs—and deny as many claims as possible—Social Security administrative law judges (ALJs) will simply overlook or fail to assess credible medical evidence.

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