Should I Hire a Disability Lawyer in Abingdon, VA?

Abingdon, VA Disability LawyerWhile the Social Security Administration (“SSA”) does not require disability applicants to be represented by an attorney, it is highly advisable to retain the services of an experienced Social Security Disability (“SSD”) lawyer before applying.

Approximately 70% of all initial SSD applications are denied, even when individuals have qualifying disabilities.[1]  However, those who are represented by attorneys have claims approved at a rate of approximately three times those who file their claims on their own.

It is easy to make mistakes when completing SSD paperwork.  Failing to submit the proper medical records that provide the evidence required by the SSA to make a disability determination, or minor application or documentation errors or omissions, usually result in claim denials, even if an individual otherwise meets the medical disability standard.

The fact is, those at the SSA must reject a claim – even if they believe a person is legitimately disabled – unless all requirements and evidence have been submitted.  Thus, it is critical to ensure that all paperwork is thoroughly reviewed, and adequate medical documentation is submitted.

While no attorney can guarantee that the SSA will not have additional questions or require additional information, at The Law Offices of Mark T. Hurt, we can assist by helping to ensure that application mistakes are not made, and thereby increase the chances of having your benefits approved.  If your application was already denied, we can help you timely appeal your claim so that much-needed disability payments are not lost.  Call our office to schedule a free consultation to get started!

Is It Expensive to Hire an Abingdon Disability Lawyer?

When a person suffers a debilitating injury or illness, one of the last things they should worry about is legal fees.  We only charge a fee if we are successful in obtaining disability payments, and our compensation is only assessed on the amount of the past-due benefits (or “backpay”).  This means that you will never have to worry about up-front, out-of-pocket expenses (except for the potential cost to obtain medical records).  Further, if you do not collect, you will not owe us any fee.

If successful, we typically collect 25% of the backpay amount or $6,000, whichever is less. The backpay is typically equal to the amount that a claimant is first paid when a claim is approved; this amount represents the payment from the time a person first become disabled and is eligible for benefits up until the date of such payment.

We do NOT receive any fee for future payments.  Thus after the backpay award is made, you are entitled to keep 100% of all future social security payments.  Further, we are usually paid directly by the SSA for our fee on the backpay; in these cases you won’t need to calculate our fee or to make a payment to us.

Can Hiring an SSD Attorney Help Me Get Benefits Faster?

Hiring an SSD attorney before submitting an initial application will increase the chances of approval and help avoid the lengthy appeals process.  As an experienced disability attorney, firm founder Mark Hurt is familiar with the Social Security Disability review process and the eligibility requirements.  Because those who retain an attorney statistically have a much higher chance of getting their claim approved at the initial stage, in general, having an attorney on your side can be highly beneficial.  In many cases, we can help secure benefits at the initial application phase, which is the fastest option for obtaining benefits.

Many applicants, however, mistakenly believe applying for benefits is a straightforward process; however, this is often not the case.  It can be frustrating and challenging to establish eligibility, and even small errors can result in denials.  We can assist in compiling the documents needed to prove eligibility for benefits and review application information to find any inconsistencies or missing information crucial to substantiate a disability.

While the wait times for every case in Virginia vary, it typically takes four to six months for an initial decision.  If approved, payments will begin within thirty to sixty days.  If a denial is issued, the process can be extended for a number of additional months (even more than a year in some cases).

Many people who file claims on their own believe that if their claim is deficient (such as if the required medical evidence is not submitted), they can easily “fix” a mistake by sending the required information.  Unfortunately this is not how the process works.  Instead, if a claim is not approved, a denial determination will be sent, and the applicant must then go through the appeals process, and be without much-needed disability income for a long time.

The Social Security Appeals Process

If your claim is denied, it is advisable to retain an attorney as soon as possible.  At The Law Offices of Mark T. Hurt, we can collect and submit medical evidence, communicate with healthcare professionals, prepare you for questions that may be asked at an Administrative Law Judge hearing, and assist in moving your case forward as quickly as possible.

The first level of appeal – a request for reconsideration – can be submitted to challenge the determination.  It can take four to six months for a secondary case review.  If an unfavorable decision is made at the reconsideration level, it will be necessary to appeal in an administrative hearing, which is usually scheduled one year later.

If unsuccessful at an administrative hearing, the decision can be appealed before an Appeals Council or in federal court, which can push the clock back even further.  Fortunately, if SSD income is ultimately awarded, back pay will be paid for most of the wait time in the first payment.

In representing clients in the appeals stage, we are known for our ability to achieve favorable outcomes at lower levels of the appeals process.  This means clients may receive benefits much faster than they would have otherwise if they were self-represented.  If you would like to obtain SSD benefits as quickly as possible, we urge you to schedule a free consultation at your earliest convenience.

My Disability Benefits Were Denied.  How Long Do I Have to Appeal in Virginia?

If you were issued a denial, it is critical not to delay, as typically you will only have sixty days to request a reconsideration or appeal.  If this period has expired, we urge you nonetheless to contact us immediately so that we can determine if you may have a valid excuse for not timely filing for reconsideration or appeal within such 60-day period.

Consult with Our Abingdon, VA Disability Lawyer Today!

If you are unable to work because of a debilitating illness or injury, it is critical to speak with a disability lawyer before you begin the claims process.  Call our offices to schedule a complimentary consultation.  We can review your claim, answer any questions you may have, and explain your legal options in detail.  If you have already been denied benefits, we can assist in preparing an appeal and fight tenaciously in a hearing (when needed) to get everything to which you are rightfully entitled!  Don’t delay – call us today!

[1] Annual Statistical Report on the Social Security Disability Program, 2011, Social Security Administration