The question of when to hire a Social Security disability lawyer is not a new one. I have written and recorded videos about this topic before. But my opinion is now changing.
In the past, I suggested that there was no great advantage to hiring a lawyer until you are denied at your initial application. At times I would advise potential clients to wait until the reconsideration denial since so few cases are approved at reconsideration. Why not wait until it is time to request a hearing.
Now (2015), however, I have changed my position. I think that there are significant enough advantages to hiring a lawyer early in the process such that I now recommend that disability claimants hire their lawyers to actually help them file their claims.
In this video I explain my rationale but briefly the reasons are as follows:
1. Social Security seems to be losing track of more files. Perhaps it is a coincidence but my paralegal and I are seeing more cases than ever where a claimant filed an application and nothing happened, or when denials were issued on one date but not mailed for weeks or months later resulting in a missed deadline. I don’t think that Social Security is losing files on purpose but I do think that years of staff cuts are catching up to them. A lawyer knows when claim documents are supposed to get mailed out and our early involvement greatly reduces the chances that your file will end up lost in cyberspace.
2. Early involvement by a lawyer may mean early approval. Not every case meets a listing (see https://youtu.be/KsWHuwRyWxQ) but there are enough “no doubt about it” cases slipping through the cracks to convince me that an attentive lawyer could help. And even if the case is not one that can be approved early, the case file will benefit from proper development by the attorney. And, in case you were wondering, my advice is not self serving: attorneys often get paid little or nothing when a case is approved early because there may not be much in the way of past due benefits. What we lose in unpaid time we hopefully make up in client goodwill and referrals.
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