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MISTAKES IN APPEALING A DENIAL OF YOUR SOCIAL SECURITY BENEFITS WHEN UNREPRESENTED BY AN ATTORNEY

1. FAILING TO APPEAL AN INITIAL DENIAL OF YOUR CLAIM 

Do not assume that your case is lost because the Social Security Administration denied your initial application. Most initial applications are denied.  However, Social Security approves a large number of appealed claims every year. Why?

There are many reasons your claim may have been denied in error. It may be your file was incomplete or out-of-date and missing a key piece of medical evidence. It may be that claims examiner was rushed or overworked or just overly conservative in his or her initial evaluation and made an honest mistake. Perhaps your application failed to provide a complete picture of how your impairment prevents you from working. Whatever the reason for the denial, when you appeal you get the opportunity to present your case to a judge, who can ask questions and make an in-person assessment of your situation.  Because the hearing judge will do a more detailed and thorough review of your claim than the claims examiner, a hearing gives you the best chance for success. Don't give up too soon. Failing to appeal is one of the biggest mistakes you can make.

2. WAITING UNTIL A HEARING IS SCHEDULED TO CONTACT LAWYER    

Many Social Security disability claimants wait until the last minute to hire a lawyer. A Notice of Hearing is sent out at least 75 days before the hearing date. However, it takes a great deal of time to develop a Social Security disability appeal. An attorney typically must;

: Meet with you and conduct a detailed interview;

: Review your entire Social Security file(including medical records, vocational assessments, and other important information);

: Determine whether there is missing evidence;

: Order, review, and submit this evidence to Social Security;

: Draft a comprehensive pre-hearing brief for the judge; and

: Prepare you(and any other witnesses) for the hearing.

It is incredibly difficult to complete this process in 75 days. It is in your best interests, therefore, to meet with a Social Security disability lawyer like me in the early stages of the application or your appeal process.  This will benefit both you and the lawyer. You will have time to find the right lawyer for your needs, and your attorney will have plenty of time to prepare your claim.

3. FAILING TO HIRE A LAWYER BECAUSE YOU THINK YOU CAN'T AFFORD TO   

Being unable to earn an income can be frightening. You likely have mounting medical costs and past due bills; the last thing you want to do is add legal fees to this burden. However, legal fees are capped by law, and your Social Security disability lawyer will not charge a fee for legal services unless and until you recover money from the Social Security Administration. Plus, your attorney will only be able to collect  a fee if and only if you are entitled to "back" pay or retroactive benefits from the SSA.  The legal fee is capped at $6000.00 or %25 percent of the retroactive amount whichever is less. Do not delay in seeking legal assistance because you think you cannot afford it.   

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