Many people in West Virginia need to file for Social Security disability benefits when they are no longer able to work. The process can take months or even more than a year before a final determination is reached.
Some people become discouraged during the process because most claims are denied at the initial application level and even upon reconsideration. It is important for applicants to understand that most claims are approved after an appeal and hearing before an administrative law judge, or ALJ.
The hearing before an ALJ is the only time a claimant has the opportunity to meet the person who makes a decision on their claim. The ALJ will have the opportunity to ask questions about the claimant's work history and disability, and the claimant will have an opportunity to testify about how their symptoms affect them during their daily life.
An ALJ can be more lenient when interpreting the Social Security Administration's guidelines in granting an approval than officers who review the initial paperwork. About half of all claims that reach the administrative hearing level are approved.
Having an attorney present during the hearing and during the application process might make a difference in the likelihood that the claim will be approved. Statistically, more claims are approved when a claimant has a representative present. An attorney with experience in Social Security disability cases may be able to present the case favorably so that there are better odds for the claimant. An attorney may assist disability claimants at every stage of the application process, from the initial application to requesting an appeal and attending an administrative hearing to represent their client.