Do I Need a Disability Lawyer When Working With Social Security?

Do I Need a Disability Lawyer When Working With Social Security?

Do I Need a Disability Lawyer When Working With Social Security?


Do you need to file for disability through Social Security?

Have you already filed disability and been denied?

Maybe we can help!

Hiring a disability lawyer is both helpful for new disability claimants and critical for those who have been denied.

Here’s how & why hiring a disability lawyer is a great idea in your Social Security claim.


Success Rate When Using a Disability Lawyer

Did you know that those who are filing for disability increase their chances significantly when hiring a lawyer? Nearly three times more successful to be exact.  We wrote about this in depth in our article, The Odds: Getting Your Social Security Claim Approved.


Cost of a Disability Lawyer

For most, the biggest concern comes with how a disability lawyer is paid. You may worry that you cannot afford a lawyer and therefore will not be able to receive the help. The truth is that a disability lawyer is only paid if you are approved for social security disability. When you are approved for disability social security will owe you back pay for the time that you suffered from your disability, but were not yet receiving benefits. Once your case is approved your lawyer fee will be taken from your back pay (up to twenty-five percent or $6,000).

Here’s more information on how you can afford a disability lawyer.


Best Time to Contact a Disability Lawyer

When is a good time to contact a disability lawyer? That depends on how comfortable and confident you are with filling out all of the necessary paperwork for disability applications.

Remember the chances of getting your initial claim approved hover around 20%, for a variety of reasons.  With a lawyer involved at this stage, chances increase by almost 10 percent, and if you stick with them through your appeal, your chances of success grow to well over 50%.

A disability lawyer comes in handy later on when going through the rigamarole of Social Security.


Advantages of Hiring a Disability Lawyer

Here are some clear-cut advantages to hiring a disability lawyer:

  • You will not have to keep going to the social security office and spend so much time waiting
  • The paperwork alone is easily more than forty pages long. An attorney can help to gather all the paperwork needed.
  • Disability Lawyers know the language. Social security and courts are very wordy and hard to understand at times. Your lawyer will know all the terms and appropriate ways of responding.
  • An experienced attorney knows the system like the back of their hand. This means that the whole process will be a lot faster and no guesswork for you!
  • You will never miss a deadline. The social security administration is very serious about their deadlines, and if one is missed, you may have to start the whole application process over again. A lawyer can be there for you and stay on top of the mundane things such as this.
  • When appealing a claim that has already been denied your attorney may be able to send in a brief that compels the judge to not need a hearing and approve your benefits then and there.
  • Rest assured that your attorney will be professional and ethical; it’s the law and rules of conduct for the social security administration
  • No upfront payments needed. No payments until you start receiving back pay and only then will your lawyer receive payment from your backpay before you even receive your first check.


We Help Disability Claimants In Spokane, Eastern Washington, & Northern Idaho

No matter where you are in the process, we can help.  Contact us today!


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Help!  Social Security Thinks I Can Perform Sedentary Work

Help!  Social Security Thinks I Can Perform Sedentary Work

You applied for Social Security benefits. 

You receive a denial letter and in it, it says that you can perform sedentary work.

What does this mean?  What can you do?

What is Sedentary Work?

When Social Security reviews your case, they look at the medical evidence that has been submitted.  They use the “grid”, a system developed by SSA to decide if a person is able to work based on the highest level of their job.  And they determine if you can perform sedentary work, light work, or medium work.

If you are determined to be able to do sedentary work, this means you are able to perform a sit-down job.  A job that would require you to lift up to 10 lbs., occasionally carry objects such as files and be able to walk or stand for up to two hours at a time.

This article will give you several examples of sedentary work, and how the SSA will view your capacity to do sedentary work.

You can review the “Grid” system that SSA uses, here.

Medical consultants at SSA assign you a residual functional capacity (RFC) level on work.  They use this to see if you are able to do work by using the grid (above). The grid determines your level of disability based on age, education, RFC level, previous work experience, and transferability of skills.

Based on what the grid says, you may be granted or denied benefits.

For example, if you are 50 and are deemed able to do sedentary work and have a college degree, then you will not qualify for disability benefits because the grid determines you are still employable, even in a reduced state.  You can appeal this!

Appeal a Denial For Disability!


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What can I do?

If you truly are unable to perform sedentary work, then you are going to need to prove it.  If you do not already have a disability lawyer, now would be a good time to get one.  A lawyer can help you gather the information needed in order to prove that you can not even do sedentary work.

Your lawyer will use your medical records, doctor’s opinions, your testimony and anything else they will show why you can’t do various sedentary jobs. The SSA can only use the evidence and symptoms indicated in your medical records so it is important for you to have your doctor note any and all symptoms you may be experiencing.

You will need to prove that you cannot:

  • Lift up to 10 pounds
  • Stand or walk for more than 2 hours a day
  • Walk without the use of medical hand-held devices (cane, walker, etc.)
  • Sit for 6 hours out of an 8-hour work-day

Other things that can prove that you can only do less than sedentary work are:

  • Needing to alternate sitting and standing through the day
  • Needing to rest or lie down
  • Inability to stoop or bend
  • Reduced ability in use of hands or fingers
  • Taking frequent sick days
  • Unable to balance on smooth surfaces
  • Visual limitations
  • Unable to work in noisy environments
  • Unable to follow short, simple instructions
  • Inappropriate interaction with supervisors and co-workers
  • Not able to maintain hygiene
  • Cannot handle work stress
  • Off task for more than 15% of the work day

Unfortunately, even citing many of these will not stop the SSA from finding some job (even random) that you will be able to perform.

The SSA uses the Dictionary of Occupational Titles (DOT) to determine what types of jobs you may qualify for.  You might notice…a large portion of these jobs are non-existent jobs such as telegraph-service rater, microfilm processor, and telephone quotation clerk.

It is important that you have you a good attorney that can help you contest the jobs if they are one of those that are not actual jobs anymore, or if there are aspects of your impairment that you may not realize will become notable during your appeal.

How PTSD and Disability are Related for VA Service Connection

How PTSD and Disability are Related for VA Service Connection

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is the most common mental health problem experienced by Veterans who have encountered combat or combat training.

This data is according to the US Department of Veteran Affairs (VA).  How PTSD and Disability are related is one of the most common questions we receive from Veterans seeking treatment and compensation for their service-connected injuries. 

PTSD and Disability, Broken Down

Before we cover how PTSD and Disability are related for VA purposes, we should cover PTSD can occur when someone is put in a situation that elicits fear of or actual death, serious injury, witnessing an event of death, or learning of the death or serious injury of a family member or friend.

For you to receive disability benefits for PTSD, you must Establish a direct service connection if the PTSD is combat related. To establish a direct service connection, you no longer need to prove the traumatic event that caused PTSD occurred. This applies to both combat veterans and any veterans that experienced hostile or terrorist activity.

PTSD Disability Requirements for Service Connection

The requirements to establish a direct service connection to PTSD And Disability:

  • Current diagnosis of PTSD
    • This diagnosis must be done by a psychiatrist, psychologist, licensed social worker or another behavioral health practitioner.
    • The PTSD diagnosis must meet specific criteria and the doctor must provide a report on why it is believed you have PTSD and how your symptoms fit the specific criteria.
    • You may file for service connection for PTSD or a related behavioral health condition, but you will need a diagnosis before your service connected decision is granted.
  • In-service stressor
    • You must show that an event or series of events caused (or made worse) your PTSD during your service. You do not need to have been in combat, but there is a different requirement for combat vs non-combat events.
    • Records that may prove combat experience include your DD214, medals and/or awards received, and unit records showing the dates and locations of unit assignments.
    • For non-combat events, you may be able to include statements from fellow veterans that served with you and statements from friends and family that knew you before and after your service and can attest to your changes.
  • Any proof you may have of the stressor event or conditions occurring. This clear event stressor is not strictly required but makes for a less challenging fight with the VA.
  • A Department of Veterans Affairs or VA contracted psychologist/psychiatrist’s opinion the stressor was sufficient to cause PTSD. If you are near a Vet Center they can help with this. They have licensed social workers that can document the connection between your diagnosis and the stressor.
  • Veterans who have experienced rape or sexual harassment that caused PTSD are also eligible for disability benefits, but they do have to prove that the sexual trauma occurred.
  • Other events can happen that can cause PTSD in veterans before they even join the military. In that case, to receive service-connected PTSD and Disability benefits, they must prove that their service has made the disorder worse.

After Meeting the Criteria: PTSD and Disability Compensation

Once you apply for disability benefits and it is established you have PTSD, and that there is a service connection, the VA will assign a disability rating. The rating is based on a percentage of disability, how severe your symptoms are, how often they occur, the length of remissions or improvement, and how much you can work and socially function.

Service Connected Disability benefits are measured in severity increments of 10%; from 10% to 100%. For example, a veteran who has mild PTSD or if the symptoms are infrequent and are controlled well with medication, the disability rating might be 10%. The VA uses the disability rating to determine what benefits you are eligible for and how much compensation you may receive. Benefits can include health care, compensation, and treatment for your PTSD.

If you are considering or fighting a VA disability claim for PTSD, you might want to look at this article about PTSD and Social Security as well!