If your application for disability benefits has been rejected by the Social Security Administration (SSA), you have a right to appeal their decision. If you prepared the original application — the one that was rejected — you might have better luck the second time around if you get some help.
Who you get to help you with your appeal could be one of the most important decisions you’ll ever make.
You can hire a Social Security advocate, a professional who has been trained to assist individuals with the preparation and submission of their appeals claim. And technically, any licensed attorney can help you with your appeal, even though they may not have a lot of experience dealing with the SSA’s appeal process.
For the best results, you need an expert with extensive experience in handling Social Security disability benefits claims. That would be a board certified Social Security Disability Law attorney.
What Does Board Certified Mean?
You’ve probably heard attorneys advertise themselves as being “board certified.” But do you know what this designation means?
In the medical field, there are licensed doctors who are general practitioners (like your family physician), and there are those who are specialists (like cardiologists or neurologists).
It’s much the same in the legal field. You have licensed attorneys, and then you have board certified attorneys. Board certified attorneys are the specialists of particular the legal profession. They possess the drive, education, training and experience to make them an expert in a particular aspect of the law.
To become a board-certified Social Security Disability Law attorney, a lawyer must meet all the requirements of the National Board of Trial Advocacy (NBTA). These requirements include:
- The attorney must have been licensed and practicing law for at least five years.
- They’re a member of the bar in good standing.
- They’ve handled a certain percentage of Social Security disability cases for three years or more; this includes appearing in at least 100 Social Security disability hearings, filing no less than 20 appeals council briefs and 10 or more briefs in the United States District Courts.
- They regularly attend social security disability law education seminars to keep legal training up to date.
- They’ve been peer-evaluated by fellow lawyers and judges.
- They’ve passed all the required written examinations.
An attorney with a board certification from an accredited group such as the NBTA has demonstrated that they meet or exceed the high level of professional excellence required to be considered a specialist in a particular area of law.
Why Hire a Board Certified Attorney?
In addition to their extensive education and experience, there are other advantages to hiring a board certified Social Security attorney as opposed to a Social Security advocate. Social security advocates aren’t attorneys — they can only take you so far in the appeals process. They can submit your appeal claim to the SSA, but they can’t file an appeal in federal court if your claim is unfairly denied again. Only attorneys who are board-certified in Social Security Law are allowed to file an appeal to a federal district court.
Board Certified Attorney Don’t Cost Any More Money
All this expertise costs a lot, right? Not really. The fees you can be charged for legal representation are set by the Social Security Administration. Like a disability advocate, a board certified Social Security disability lawyer doesn’t require any up-front costs from their clients — they collect their fee as a percentage of your Social Security Disability back pay. If your claim isn’t approved, they don’t collect any money.
Speak to a Houston Board Certified Social Security Attorney
You don’t have to hire an attorney to handle your Social Security disability benefits appeal, but statistically, the Social Security Administration is more likely to approve the claim of someone who is represented by a board certified attorney.
M. Stanley Whitehead is board certified by the NBTA in Social Security Disability Law. He’s helped hundreds of clients in Houston and across the nation obtain the Social Security disability benefits they are entitled to. If your application for Social Security disability benefits has been denied, your appeal options are limited. The sooner you get help, the better. Contact the law offices of board certified Social Security disability attorney M. Stanley Whitehead without delay.