An attorney is not required to file for Social Security Disability benefits or appeals, but there are several things that an attorney can do to make the experience easier for applicants. Some say that no one has experienced true bureaucratic delay until they have applied for SSDI or SSI benefits. The delay built into the system along with the overwhelming number of applications makes it important to be represented by a lawyer who can help keep your case from being lost in the shuffle.
It is also important to have a powerful advocate on your side who knows the applicable law and rules for a disability case. For example, we previously covered a case involving a SSDI applicant whose awards were reversed after a reconsideration process that took over two years. The attorney in that case was able to successfully argue that the undue delay to reconsidering the applicant’s benefits was improper, and that therefore an ALJ’s decision to cut off the applicant’s benefits should be thrown out.
In our last post we also discussed a case in which an ALJ failed to properly develop a medical record concerning one veteran’s application for SSI benefits. In that case the court noted that the ALJ had enough information to see that the veteran likely had a VA disability rating, and that the ALJ was therefore obligated to inquire as to what that rating was. An experienced SSI attorney would immediately see the importance of the VA disability rating and flag this as an issue before the case got to such an advanced appellate stage. This is why an attorney is a powerful tool to help SSDI and SSI applicants get the benefits that they are entitled to.
Source: United States Court of Appeals, “McLeod v. Astrue,” No. 09-35190; D.C. No. 9:07-CV-52-JCL