Why do I need an experienced, local attorney?

You don’t. You can represent yourself. You can have a friend, family member, or inexperienced attorney represent you. There are non-attorney representatives who are, more or less, skilled. There are many out of state law firms or groups who will offer to represent you. You may not meet these out of state representatives in person before the day of your hearing, often more than 18 months after you applied.

Negotiating a disability case is a long, complex process. Much of it must now be done using the computer. The first two decisions on a claim are often incorrect. Many of these need to be appealed to the level of a hearing with a Social Security judge. Many people whose claims were denied at the first two levels are found disabled at the hearing level by a Social Security judge. This tells you that many of these initial and reconsideration decisions were wrong.

The hearing itself is often one hour or less. You may be nervous. There is a lot riding on the outcome. If your attorney is realistic, she/he too will be nervous, because they are paid only if you win. A nervous attorney who is experienced, and who specializes in this type of law, is also most likely alert to the potential pitfalls and this will not be their “first rodeo”. They will be better able to cross-examine the government’s witness and help you present your testimony.

Our attorneys will go the distance

Many out of state attorneys or representatives will not help you appeal to Federal Court if you lose. They are (oftentimes) not listed in the Iowa or Illinois Federal Courts. Changing horses in mid-stream has its problems. There are a limited number of attorneys in Iowa and Illinois who do Federal Court appeals and who will take your case if you lose before the judge and the appeal board in Virginia. There are time limits at each stage in the appeal (60 days) and these time limits are strict.

Ask any attorney or representative you consider hiring how far they will represent you in the appeal process. Ask them how many hearings they have had with local Social Security judges.

Assistance navigating a complicated process

What is at stake for you is income replacement – because you are not working, and Medicare or Medicaid coverage – which comes with a determination that you are disabled.

Based on the types of claim you file you may not have the opportunity to file more than one claim. Based on when you stopped working, you may have to prove you were disabled before a certain date. You may be barred from getting a favorable decision on a subsequent claim if you do not win at one step of the appeal process on your first claim. You want to maximize your chances on your first claim.

You stand to benefit from experienced, local attorney representation. For your part: always tell the truth, work if you still can, do everything you can do to improve your health, stay away from any overindulgence in alcohol or any use of street drugs, cooperate in any way you can in the development of your case. Be patient. Try not to get discouraged. Believe in your case.


Social Security Disability Law Resources


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