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Friday, January 25, 2008

Unrepresented Claim Means Weak Case

I read an article on going to court without a legal counsel. This article was entitled, “Going to a Disability Hearing Unrepresented Can Have Unforeseen Consequences”.

As the title implies, proceeding to trial without a legal representative can lead to unfavorable outcome.

First, you must understand that not every benefits claim filed into the Social Security Administration Office is approved. The Social security is very strict in implementing their requirements, which comes to the point when even eligible cases are questioned and denied.

There are instances when the Social Security is not satisfied with the claimant’s grounds for filing an insurance claim. The following are some reasons why a person may be denied his or her application:

  • Insufficient medical proof
  • The impairment is not considered severe
  • The impairment is caused by illegitimate reasons like alcohol and drugs
  • The impairment is not expected to last at least one year
  • The individual can still perform working activities
  • Failure to take prescribed medication
  • The individual returned to work while the application is pending
  • The individual’s medical condition can be treated within a year

When a Social Security application is turned down, a claimant shall have a right to a hearing in front of the Office of Disability Adjudication and Review. He/she can file for an appeal.

Most claims are denied at the initial level, but can be approved at higher levels of review. There are four levels of appeal: /1/ Reconsideration. /2/ Hearing. /3/ Appeals County Review. /4/ Federal Court.

Although having a lawyer to represent you during these appeals, is not compulsory, it has its disadvantages. As the article stated out, many judges fail to give non-represented claimants the same degree of respect that they would normally accord to a claimant with a representative.

When a judge hearing your case sees that you came in trial without legal representation, he/she will probably decide that your case could be dispensed with quickly without any further procedures. The judge will also probably assume that you came in unprepared not knowing what your options are, and what is required of you to defend your claims. What happens after is, the judge will likely to dismiss your case without much review of your statements or investigation of evidence.

Unfair as it is, incidents like these do not normally happen. However, it is probable to happen with claimants who show up without a lawyer.