August 13, 2012
Today, about 85 percent of disability claimants who appeal denials to administrative law judges hire a lawyer to represent them. That’s up from 20 percent in the 1970s, reports Trib Live news.
“An attorney is better able to make sure medical evidence is complete, make sure the judge has a chance to review evidence,” said Cindy Berger, a former staff attorney for Social Security, who is principal at Washington’s Landing-based Berger and Green.
Since “it’s become increasingly difficult to prove disability,” Berger said more disability claimants have sought outside counsel.
Since federal rules keep government attorneys from intervening in the courtroom, disability lawyers face no direct opposition. The National Organization of Social Security Claimants’ Representatives, the union representing administrative law judges, asked Congress to reverse that policy.
But adding government attorneys to appeal hearings would cost hundreds of millions of dollars, said Jim Borland, assistant deputy commissioner at the administration. So such a change is highly unlikely.
Private representation has grown because “Social Security has gotten a lot more complicated in its regulations. It’s gotten a lot more involved in regulation and what’s required to prove disability,” said a lawyer, who oversees Social Security disability cases at his firm. “It’s a very complex and ever-changing area of the law.”
If you or someone you know needs help with disability benefits, contact the Social Security lawyers at Fleschner, Stark, Tanoos & Newlin.
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