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Applying for Social Security Disability? What your attorney is doing to prepare for your hearing and assist in your claim.

Before the Hearing:  What is my attorney doing for me? Since you cannot read your attorney’s mind nor see everything their office is doing on your behalf, we thought it might be useful to understand what happens while you wait for a hearing. Applying for Social Security Disability can be a long and tedious process.  Many people choose to hire attorneys to help them navigate this process, file the paperwork and make the best legal argument that could result in obtaining benefits.  In the early stages of applying for disability (i.e. the initial application and reconsideration), your attorney will assist you with paperwork and making sure everything is filed on time, make sure the Social Security Administration is aware of your medical treatment locations and begin the long process of obtaining all your medical information and medical support statements.  It is important to remember that while an attorney can assist you with this paperwork, the attorney or his/her office may be calling you to obtain the information, such as treatment information or what you are physically able to do around the home that only you would know. Once your claim reaches the hearing level, having an attorney is even more important in preparing your claim.  Waiting for a hearing can be very frustrating.  Once you request a hearing in North Carolina, it can be 12 to 15 months before you actually appear before the Administrative Law Judge (ALJ). Unfortunately, other than in very specific circumstances such as terminal illness, there is nothing anyone-you or your attorney-can do to reduce the amount of time you have to wait for a hearing.  However, our attorneys always review their cases to see if a request for on-the-record decision would be appropriate. During the time prior to the hearing, the attorney is gathering your medical records and submitting them to Social Security, requesting support of your disability from your doctors and keeping track of your case through the hearing office.  Your attorney is also working on the legal argument that they will use at the hearing as to why you are disabled.  Simply submitting the medical records is not always enough.  Your attorney is reviewing your medical records and piecing together all of the things that prevent you from being able to work so it can be presented to the ALJ in such a way that shows you are disabled within the rules of Social Security. It is important to remember that you play a vital role in your application for disability benefits; even if you hire an attorney.  You have to keep your attorney updated on your doctor’s appointments and any new health problems that may arise.   If you work with your attorney, they will be better able to represent you when it is time for the hearing. Applying for Social Security Disability can be a frustrating experience.  Hiring an attorney helps relieve some of this frustration and stress.  While you still need to be an active part of the process, you have the comfort of knowing someone is advocating on your behalf and doing everything they can to get you the benefits you deserve.

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