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Do I need a lawyer to get SSD benefits?

For most people in Missouri, the process of applying for and obtaining Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits can seem more than a little intimidating. A common question that potential applicants ask is whether they need a lawyer to get them through the SSD claim process. The answer depends in large part upon the nature of the process itself.

The Social Security Administration publishes pamphlets and information sheets that explain the SSDI claim process. These documents are also available on the SSA web site. In fact, many claims can be filed online. So where does a lawyer come in?

The filing of a claim for disability benefits is merely the first step in what can be a long and tortuous process. The claim itself is based on employment records kept by the SSA (hours works, amounts paid into the Social Security system), information about the claimant's work history (kinds of work performed, skills required, effect of the disabling injury or illness) and medical records that will validate the existence and extent of the disabling illness or injury. Assembling these records can be time-consuming and difficult. Lawyers who specialize in representing SSDI claimants, such as those at Harlan, Harlan & Still, know which records are necessary to support a claim, how they can be obtained, and how they can best be presented.

One of the most important services an attorney can render is pursuing the various appeal paths in the event the claim is initially denied. The lawyers at Harlan, Harlan & Still know how to draft and file the proper papers to begin the appeal process. Many SSDI appeals involve a hearing before an administrative law judge, making the assistance of a knowledgeable lawyer essential. Finally, SSDI appeals often end up in federal court, and again, the lawyers at Harlan, Harlan & Still have significant experience in representing clients in such cases.

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