As pervious posts on this blog have mentioned, many if not most applications for Social Security disability benefits get denied at the initial stages. While sometimes the involvement of a qualified disability benefits attorney can help get an application approved at the outset, in many cases, the reality is that an applicant for benefits is just going to be denied social security and will have to plan on going through an "appeal," or, more precisely, a review hearing before an administrative law judge.
The problem with this appeals process is that it takes a long time to complete. Moreover, during the wait, a disabled person has to continue to live without the help of disability benefits, even if he or she really needs in order to make ends meet. This is so even though a person really does have a good case for receiving benefits.
An attorney can help move an appeal along in several different ways. For one, assuming there are good grounds to do so, an attorney can submit what is called a "dire need" letter and supporting documentation. Basically, if an applicant is in danger of losing his or her home or necessarily medical services without benefits, the Social Security Administration may move the appeal hearing along more quickly.
There are no guarantees that a dire need letter will be accepted, and applicants should also remember that the "dire need letter" only speeds up the decision making process; it does not make it more likely that a person will get disability benefits.
An attorney can also potentially speed up the appeal process by asking for a review "on the record," which means the administrative law judge will simply go over the medical documentation and evidence submitted and will not hold a hearing. This technique can make the process go much faster since there is no need to schedule a hearing, but it is risky since it means a judge could deny benefits without getting the full story. This technique should only be used with a great deal of caution and forethought.