Do I need to hire a lawyer to apply for disability benefits? When should I hire a lawyer?
How do I apply for disability benefits?
Matthew D. Lane, Jr. does not handle the filing of initial applications for disability benefits with the Social Security Administration (SSA). You do not need a lawyer to begin the application process as SSA has trained staff that will assist you in filling out the application forms. If you hire a lawyer to handle your initial application and you are approved for benefits, you will be required to pay the lawyer a fee for doing little more than filling out forms.
Consequently, Matthew D. Lane, Jr. only represents claimants once their initial applications have been denied; we appeal claims that have been initially denied by Disability Determination Services (DDS). We file the request for hearing, gather evidence from medical providers to support your claim, submit legal theories to the Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) who will hear your case, meet with you before your administrative hearing, and advocate for you at the hearing, including cross-examining any vocational or medical experts called by SSA to testify.
SSA has three convenient ways for you to apply for disability benefits:
- Apply online at SSA’s website, www.ssa.gov (ensure “Official Social Security Website” appears at the top of the page next to the SSA seal).
- Apply by phone by calling SSA’s national toll-free number 1-800-772-1213. If you are deaf or hard of hearing, you can call SSA’s TTY number 1-800-325-0778.
- Apply in person at your local Social Security office. Use SSA’s online Social Security Office Locator to find your local office.
Before applying, it is helpful to gather the following information and to have it with you when you apply:
- Your Social Security number and proof of your age;
- The names and birthdays of your spouse and minor children;
- Your most recent W-2 form or, if you were self-employed, a copy of your federal tax return;
- Names, addresses, and phone numbers of all medical providers (for example: doctors, psychologists, psychiatrists, physical therapists, hospitals, clinics) and the dates of your visits;
- Names, dosages, and prescribing doctor for all medications you are taking;
- Medical records and test results that you already have in your possession; and
- A summary of where you worked and the kind of work you did for the last fifteen (15) years.
Once you have filed your initial application with SSA, it is important that you respond to any requests for information from SSA and that you attend any medical appointments that SSA may set up for you. It is very important that you cooperate with SSA’s doctors, that you tell them all of your medical problems, and that you give your best effort on any tests administered. In addition, it is important that you continue to follow all treatment recommended by your personal doctor and that you continue to report all of your medical problems to your personal doctor.
If your initial application for benefits is denied, you have only sixty (60) days from the date stamped on the initial denial letter to file a request for hearing, Form HA-501. You should call Matthew D. Lane, Jr. for representation as soon as you receive a denial notice.