I have been practicing social security disability for over 15 years.
Do You Belong To Any Specific Professional Organization? If So, Which?
I am a sustaining member of the National Organization of Social Security Claimant’s Representatives (NOSSCR) and I am actually [currently] president of the Fifth Circuit Organization of Social Security Claimant’s Representatives (FOSSCR). I am also treasurer of the Dallas Association of Social Security Claimant’s Attorneys.
How Do You Keep Abreast Of Current And Changing Laws In The Social Security Disability Arena?
We attend continuing legal education conferences every year. As president of FOSSCR, I organized this year’s conference. We receive monthly newsletters from our national chapter NOSSCR which also sends us emails to keep us abreast of all the current issues. NOSSCR has officers who advocate for the Social Security Disability program. In Washington, D.C. every other year and their officers address important policy changes. They work with the Social Security Administration itself and the Social Security Subcommittee of the House Ways and Means. We also are part of a National List Serve which is a national network of attorneys exchanging ideas, relevant information, and important updates. Since we represent Social Security claimants in federal district court, we frequently research current case law in all circuits across the country and the U.S. Supreme Court.
Does Your Firm Take On Other Types Of Cases Beyond Social Security Disability? Why Or Why Not?
We also take Veterans Administration disability cases. Our attorney, Paul Burkhalter, represents claimants at different levels within the VA.
Why Such An Emphasis On The Hearing Level Versus Social Security Disability In General?
We represent claimants at all levels, from the very beginning all the way to the Supreme Court.
What Should I Bring With Me To My First Meeting With My Social Security Disability Attorney?
It is a good idea to bring a family member or a friend, who may provide additional information, which you may not have thought of. There is always the possibility that individual may also serve as a witness, but that has to be determined by the attorney. Also, bring your list of medications. If you have a seizure disorder, bring your seizure log. If you have migraines, bring your migraine log. Bring any future appointment letters. If you have any cards for your doctors or therapists, bring those.
How Common Or How Often Do The Cases That You Work On End Up Going To An Appeal Level?
First, let me clarify: the appeal level starts after you are denied at the initial level. Most people who file get denied at the initial reconsideration levels. Even cases that might seem obvious often still have to go to a hearing because at the state agency level, SSA just reviewing the claimant’s paper documents, which might not complete the picture. Most cases proceed to a hearing with an administrative law judge. By that time, the judge has a lot more evidence to consider than the state agency did, plus they have the benefit of having the claimant there, so that they can determine whether their statements are consistent with the written evidence.
What Factors Do You Consider In Determining Whether To Appeal A Case Or Not?
I look for legal and factual errors that are outcome-determinative when deciding whether to appeal. That means that had the law and the facts been applied properly, the results would have been in favor of the claimant.
For more information on Social Security Disability Law Practice, a free initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (214) 373-3761 today.
by Paul B. Burkhalter Managing Partner of Morgan & Weisbrod, Board Certified in Social Security Disability Law.