Having the ability to prove a disability to the Social Security Administration today is a much more difficult process than it has ever been. The changing regulations concerning disability benefits have made it tough for individuals to get awarded benefits with their initial application.
Being denied Social Security benefits is not uncommon on the first try, especially if applicants make mistakes and turn in incomplete applications, which many will do because they lack the knowledge concerning the complexities of the system. In the last decade, more people have retained experienced disability lawyers to assist them through the process and have been successful at filing their appeals.
Attorneys have the capability of reviewing benefits applications with a trained eye to ensure medical evidence is sufficient and because they are not opposed in the courts due to federal rules which prevent government attorneys from contesting, winning an appeal will be much more likely with an attorney on the case. It is estimated that nearly 85% of appeals cases for Social Security benefits are represented by a lawyer.
In addition to the legal experience an attorney brings to a disability appeal, there is now more incentive for lawyers to do everything to ensure a win. The Social Security Administration may now withhold up to 25% of the back pay to a disabled workers to take care of legal costs. Up to $6,000 maximum can be distributed to a claimant’s attorney directly from the Social Security Administration.
Attorneys are assured payment so it is certainly an incentive to do everything in their power to win the appeal for Social Security disability payments. Those who plan to file for disability benefits should consider seeking the guidance of an attorney on their initial application to avoid having to go through the appeals process if possible.
The Association of Administrative Law Judges, the union which represents the administrative law judges, has proposed to Congress to reverse the policy that prevents government attorneys from intervening in the courtroom. However, to have that intervention would cost ‘millions of dollars’ to hold appeals hearings.