Do I Need an Attorney to Obtain Social Security Disability Benefits?

You don’t need an attorney to apply for Social Security Disability benefits, but it is well advised to consider engaging an attorney both before and after making application for either Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI). Studies show that the Social Security Administration is likely to deny 65% - 75% of initial claims, and that percentage is almost always higher in Tennessee. Many of these initial denials, however, are later approved on appeal, Having an experienced attorney assist in preparing your SSI or SSDI application or appealing your denial may increase your chances of obtaining approval of benefits by identifying additional evidence of your disability and presenting it in the most persuasive light possible. What are the criteria for obtaining for SSA Disability and/or SSI benefits? The Social Security Administration defines a “disability” as the “inability to engage in any substantial gainful activity by reason of any determinable physical or mental impairment which can be expected to result in death or has lasted or can be expected to last for a continuous period of no less than 12 months.” The SSA will consider you disabled if:
  • You cannot do work that you did before, as well as everyday activities.
  • You cannot adjust to other work because of your medical condition(s) and therefore cannot learn what the SSA determines to be gainful income.
  • Your disability has lasted or is expected to last for at least one year or to result in death.
Bristol Lawyers Provide Expert Legal Assistance in Tennessee & Virginia During All Phases of SSD and/or SSI Application At Massengill, Caldwell & Coughlin, PC, our seasoned Social Security lawyers have the knowledge and resources to analyze complex medical documents. We are also experienced litigators who understand how to question expert witnesses and argue persuasively on your behalf. We are also one of the few firms in the Tri-Cities that will help you complete the original SSD paperwork and navigate your claim through the entire claims process.  For SSDI and SSI benefits, approval rates in Tennessee are usually below average at the initial application and reconsideration stages. However, Tennessee’s average rate of approval at the disability hearing stage (in the Kingsport Hearing Office) is a lot higher than the national average.  Guiding You Through The Appeals Process Should your initial benefits application be denied, our experienced attorneys will guide you through three levels of appeal:
  1. Reconsideration –The SSA conducts a complete reconsideration of your application, along with any new evidence you submit to bolster your claims of disability.
  2. Hearing — An administrative law judge conducts a court hearing to consider your SSD claim. The hearing often involves the testimony of medical and vocational experts. The SSA introduces its evidence, and you will have the opportunity to do the same.
  3. Review by the Appeals Council — The Social Security’s Appeals Council may grant review of your claim, but is not required to do so. If it decides to hear your case, it will typically issue a decision to affirm or reverse the administrative law judge’s denial. It may also order the administrative law judge to conduct another hearing.
  4. Federal court review — The final option involves filing a lawsuit in the United States District Court where you reside, but we do not handle these since they are not usually very fruitful. Also, you can always re-apply, though that can change certain results if you do win.
To learn more about qualifying for Social Security disability benefits and/or SSI in Tennessee or Virginia, contact an experienced Bristol attorney. Call Massengill, Caldwell & Coughlin, P.C. today at 423-797-6022 to schedule your free initial consultation, or contact us online.