While a Social Security Disability claimant is not required to hire a licensed attorney, it is highly recommended for several reasons. The Social Security Disability process is a long, daunting one that can have claimants walk out of a hearing room more uncertain than when they walked in.
First, a disability adjudication hearing will contain a large amount of legal jargon, most of which an average claimant will not understand. Many times a hearing will begin with the claimant choosing to self-represent, only to be postponed a few minutes later when that claimant realizes he is in over his head. One cannot adequately represent themselves if they do not fully understand what is taking place.
Second, an attorney can make sure that your file is complete prior to your walking into a hearing room. There are no words strong enough to emphasize the importance of this. An attorney can request medical records, and keep all information up to date in the SSD file. When a claimant chooses to proceed with a hearing without an attorney, and the agency has received few to no medical records to support the claim, chances of gaining approval of that claim are slim to none.
On the flip side, an experienced attorney will have not only obtained and provided your medical records, but also reviewed them carefully in order to present your best argument. In addition, he or she will be able to ask pertinent questions of any medical or vocational experts who may also be participants in your hearing.
At the end of the day, the wait time for a Social Security Disability hearing is long enough. Don’t take the chance of delaying your approval even further by not hiring adequate representation.