How Long Does It Take to Get Disability with A Lawyer?
Being diagnosed with a medical condition that impacts your ability to earn an income can be traumatic. In addition to dealing with your illness, you may be suffering from anxiety about your ability to pay your bills and provide for your family. Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits are intended to support those who are suffering from a permanent or temporary disability and who cannot work as a consequence of their disability. However, statistics reveal that approximately 70% of claims for SSD are denied upon initial application.
Hiring an experienced SSD lawyer can improve your chances of a successful claim and/or help to guide you through an appeal if your initial application is denied. So, how long does it take to get social security disability with a lawyer?
The SSD Claims Process Explained
An SSD claim is a request for financial compensation due to ongoing disability filed with the Social Security Administration (SSA). You may be entitled to file a SSD claim with the SSA if you suffer from certain medical conditions or an impairment that prohibits you from working and earning an income. Depending on your specific situation, you can file for either Social Security Disability Insurance or Supplemental Security Income. For your claim to be successful, you must be able to provide medical evidence and substantial documentation to verify your disabling condition.
Four factors are considered when assessing the eligibility of an SSD claim:
- Work Credits: Upon submitting your claim, you need to have sufficient work credits to be eligible for an SSD claim. Approximately 40 work credits are necessary to meet the requirements.
- Medical Evidence: A significant amount of medical evidence is required to prove that you cannot work due to the symptoms and impairments of your health condition.
- Medical Condition: The SSA has an approved list of health conditions that qualify for disability. If your condition is listed, you have a greater chance of success in your claim.
- Ability to Work: Your medical condition has prohibited you from being able to return to your previous employment.
SSD claims can be challenging to prove and require considerable time and energy to assemble and submit. However, an experienced SSD attorney can advocate for you throughout the claims process and ensure that all the necessary documentation is provided.
What documents are needed for a SSD claim?
Providing accurate and extensive documentation is crucial to improving your chances of a successful SSD claim.
The following is a list of documents you should gather to include in your SSD claim:
- Proof of household income and assets;
- Documentation of any benefits you currently receive, such as workers’ compensation or temporary aid for needy families (TANF);
- Your work history and recent income earnings;
- Proof of citizenship;
- Bank information; and
- All healthcare records documenting your medical care and treatment.
How long does it take to receive SSD benefits with a lawyer?
The SSA states that the average processing time to receive a decision on your SSD claim can range from 3 to 5 months. However, many SSD cases submitted to the SSA are denied upon initial application and must proceed to a hearing and appeal process, which can be lengthy. Engaging an experienced SSD lawyer to help with your SSD claim has been shown to improve your chances of a successful claim. A recent survey found that 60% of clients submitting an SSD claim with legal assistance were approved for disability benefits compared to a 34% approval rate for applicants without the backing of an SSD lawyer.
Disability Benefits Process Timeline
The disability benefits process consists of several stages. From the moment your disability commences to application and appeals, the claims process has set procedures and strict time restrictions.
- You become disabled
According to SSD benefits, you become disabled on the day you can no longer perform your employment duties due to your physical or mental condition. Simply being unable to continue at your previous employment is not enough to qualify for an SSD claim. Instead, you must prove that your disability prohibits you from completing any reasonable level of work for at least one year.
- Your doctor diagnoses your condition
Medical evidence and documentation are essential for a successful SSD claim. Therefore, you must attend a doctor’s appointment as soon as possible after your medical condition develops. The doctor will be able to formally diagnose the condition and perform any tests that will serve as evidence in your disability claim.
Examples of tests your doctor may order include:
- Blood or urine samples;
- CT scans;
- MRI scans;
- Tests related to your heart or other organs; and/or
- X- rays.
During your consultation with the doctor, ensure that you very thorough in explaining how your symptoms impact your ability to work. Upon completion of your consultation and tests, ensure that you receive a copy of all reports from your doctor, explaining the diagnosis and how your medical condition affects your ability to work.
- Apply for SSD benefits
Once you have assessed your eligibility to claim disability benefits and have prepared all of your necessary documentation, you can begin the application process. You can file a claim online or at a Social Security Administration Office.
The application process will require you to answer questions on the following topics:
- Your level of education;
- Work history;
- Any medications you are taking;
- Details of your medical condition; and
- Any medical treatment you have received.
Many people can find this process challenging, and unfortunately, incomplete answers can result in the immediate rejection of your application. An attorney can assist you with the application process, ensuring that all documentation is accurate and your answers are complete.
How Can A Disability Lawyer Help With Your SSD Claim?
An SSD lawyer is an expert in disability law and is well versed in the procedures and documentation involved in making a successful SSD claim. An attorney has intricate knowledge of the SSA system and process and can assist you in your initial application and/or advocate for your rights if your initial claim is denied. Your attorney may also help you apply for other benefits, such as worker’s compensation or private employer disability insurance.
Some applicants may feel confident applying for disability benefits without legal assistance and may decide to only contact an attorney when their claim is denied. However, engaging an attorney at the beginning of the initial application process can improve your chances of a successful claim and avoid the time delay and cost of your case moving through an appeal process.
An SSD attorney can assist you in your initial application by:
- Explaining employee rights in your contract;
- Gathering the necessary medical documentation to prove your disability claim;
- Developing a convincing argument as to why you should be awarded disability benefits;
- Negotiating the official date of your disability onset; and
- Ensuring all paperwork is completed correctly and within the required timelines.
If your initial claim was denied, you must submit a request for a hearing within 65 days of the date the initial application was rejected.
A disability attorney can prepare and lodge your request for a hearing and assist you by:
- Preparing you for any questions that the judge may ask during the hearing;
- Collecting the relevant medical evidence to prove your claim;
- Developing a clear and convincing argument as to why the initial claim denial was incorrect;
- Choosing which witnesses should attend the hearing; and
- Preparing the witnesses for questioning.
A recent survey revealed that over 50% of people who engaged an attorney for their disability hearing were successful in their claim. In comparison, only 23% of people who represented themselves went on to receive disability benefits.
Tips for Getting Approved Fast
An experienced disability benefits lawyer can improve your chances of a successful SSD claim and reduce the time it takes to get your approval. Engaging a lawyer from the beginning of the claims process can ensure you meet all of the requirements and legal deadlines for your claim. However, there are a few critical factors to keep in mind when trying to fast-track your approval.
Provide ALL medical evidence
If you do not supply sufficient medical evidence of your disability in your initial application, the SSA may demand that you are examined by one of their doctors for review. However, waiting for an appointment with the doctor approved by the SSA can further delay your claim. Therefore, ensure you submit every possible medical document and statement in your initial SSD claim application and include the contact details of any doctors or treating professionals involved in your case.
Collect letters from your doctors
Ask each of the doctors involved in your medical care for a letter or statement outlining the details of your condition. The letter should include information about your specific symptoms and how they impact your ability to work. Try and gather as many doctors’ letters as you can, including any specialists who have been involved in your care, and include them in your initial SSD application.
How Long Does It Take to Get Approved for Disability with a Lawyer?
It is impossible to give an exact time frame for the approval of your SSD claim case. However, having an attorney advocating for your rights and assisting you in your application can reduce the processing time of your claim.
The Social Security Administration has also developed a fast-track process for people who are suffering from severe disabling conditions and need urgent support. The fast-track process may result in applications being approved within days.
How long does it take to get disability benefits with a disability lawyer?
If you have been injured or have developed a disabling medical condition impacting your ability to work, you likely need financial assistance as soon as possible. However, a disability benefits claim can be complicated and time-consuming. Hiring an experienced lawyer can reduce the stress involved in making a claim and allow you to concentrate on your health while the claim is prepared and processed. Having legal representation can also speed up the approval process, which means you will receive the financial assistance you need without delay.