So you did it. You hired an attorney to help with your disability case.
You’ve tried to file for benenfits many times yourself, got denied, and did your research. But now, you’ve found the take-no-guff, won’t-back-down, wins-‘em-all, ultimate fighter lawyer and you are pumped to blow into court and crush that judge!
But first, you get a ton of forms in the mail to fill out. Your attorney says YOU need to fill them in. Didn’t you hire THEM to do all this paperwork?! Yes and no…..they cannot complete forms that are asking how YOU are disabled or in pain or how you can no longer do household chores or care for your personal needs on your own anymore. They DO make sure those forms are turned in on time and get to the right person so your claim isn’t denied for lack of cooperation.
Then, after 3…6…8 MONTHS you get denied. Your lawyer appeals. And you get MORE forms to complete and have to do it again?! Yes…a lot could have changed in those months. Again, YOU are the one that knows best how your conditions limit you. Your attorney again makes sure that SSA gets updated medical information, your forms in a timely fashion, and appeals this denial.
Then, another several months…..and a second denial…how did this happen?! Usually, the second denial is basically a “rubber stamp” of the first denial, unless you had some MAJOR changes to your conditions just after your first denial. Now you wait….a long time…possibly over a YEAR to see a judge. Why isn’t your attorney winning this case already? Why aren’t they getting you into court to see the judge sooner? Well, they usually can’t! There are limited reasons the judge will push a case ahead of other cases waiting, and that is if you are being evicted or having utilities shut off. The attorney has little to no control of the judge’s calendar.
FINALLY, you are in front of the judge. Your attorney asks you questions, the judge asks you questions, and then they both talk to this job “expert” who says there are SEVERAL jobs you can do!! Your attorney doesn’t yell “objection!”. They don’t interrupt the job “expert” and tell them how wrong they are. They don’t get mad, they don’t say how ridiculous this is, they are doing NOTHING. Or so it seems….
SSA disability hearings are NOT like Judge Judy, they’re not like Law & Order, they’re not even like real-life televised court cases with juries. They are not theatrical….they are about picking at the small points, being subtle and clever in asking question to the job “expert” that cut into those job options, they are about methodically setting up the right questions and responses with you to highlight the limitations you have that can actually win your case.
It may not be glamourous or fiery but it can and DOES work…count on an attorney’s experience over dramatic behavior every time.