Another blog recently wrote that if you go to your hearing without an attorney, the judge will assume you have no case, won’t treat you with respect, and is more likely to deny you.
Not surprisingly, that site is trying to sell you legal services. And you should not hire an attorney out of fear.
So, do you NEED to have a lawyer at your Social Security disability hearing?
Well, I think getting an attorney is a good idea:
- Statistically, your chances of winning go up if you have an attorney.
- An attorney can evaluate your case for weaknesses and help you build the strongest case possible.
- The lawyer often knows the judge (and may have done hundreds of case with that judge). The advantage is the lawyer knows what the judge responds to and what is likely to be a turn off.
- The lawyer will have carefully reviewed the case and can cite specific records in the file.
- The lawyer won’t freeze like a deer in the headlights during the judge’s questions.
I cannot speak about how judges in other jurisdictions handle cases, but I cannot think of a single judge I have dealt with that has not taken extra care when working with an unrepresented claimant. At a minimum, the judge will go over your right to representation and will often postpone the case to make sure you want to proceed without counsel.
If you go through with the hearing without counsel, by Social Security’s own regulations, the judge has special duties to make sure your hearing is handled fairly.
You may be saying that regulations will not guarantee that you will be treated fairly. True enough. However, there is no reason to assume you will become a victim if you go to hearing without an attorney. Spreading fear is just a cheap strategy to try to get more clients.