St. Louis disability attorney offers help to Social Security disability claimants located throughout the St. Louis metro area
The law firm of David M. Hicks, P.C. is small boutique law firm that specializes in helping individuals seeking St. Louis Social Security disability benefits receive the benefits they deserve. Our firm handles disability claims at all stages from the initial application through the appeal stages.
Our 100-page site will provide many answers to your Social Security disability questions and the information you need to know when seeking disability benefits. Although every disability is different, the process is the same. This site explains the disability application and appeals process, what the Social Security Administration looks for and how it evaluates a claim, and how you can properly document your case, appeal any denials and prepare for your hearing. If Social Security disability is a new topic for you, take a look at Frequently Asked Questions about Social Security disability benefits, which provides a good introduction to the topic.
Will I qualify for St. Louis Social Security disability benefits?
Our St. Louis disability clients often ask us whether they will qualify for St. Louis Social Security disability benefits. To qualify, you must be found to be “disabled” by the Social Security Administration. According to Social Security law, you are “disabled” only if your physical or mental impairment is so severe that you are unable to do your previous work and you cannot, considering your age, education, and work experience, do any other substantial gainful work that exists in the economy.
To determine whether you qualify for St. Louis Social Security disability benefits, the Social Security Administration will use a five-step sequential evaluation process to apply the above definition of “disabled” to your case. The five-step process can be complicated and involves a detailed analysis. The five steps, however, can be simplified to the following two questions:
Is your physical or mental condition preventing you from working?
Has this physical or mental lasted for 12 continuous months, or is it expected to last that long?
If your answer to both of the above questions is “yes” then it is worth beginning the process of applying for St. Louis Social Security disability benefits. For more information about the sequential evaluation process, see The Sequential Evaluation Process. Also, watch our video “Are you likely to qualify” for an introduction to the Social Security Administration’s disability determination process.
How to file your initial St. Louis Social Security disability claim
Although we accept St. Louis Social Security disability claimants at all stages, many of our clients choose to complete their initial Social Security disability claim on their own. You can apply for Social Security disability benefits by filing your initial application online on the Social Security Administration’s website at http://www.socialsecurity.gov/applyfordisability/.
You can also telephone the Social Security Administration at 1-800-772-1213 for a telephone appointment. Most claimants initiate their Social Security disability claims by telephoning the Social Security Administration, and having the staff make a telephone appointment for the claims representative from the St. Louis Social Security office to call the claimant back at an appointed hour. Or if you prefer, an appointment can be made to go to the St. Louis Social Security office to complete an application in person.
If you haven’t yet applied for Social Security disability benefits, see Tips for applying. And take a look at the Library section below entitled Applying for Disability Benefits When…. This section spells out how the Social Security Administration evaluates particular impairments and provides medical opinion forms.
Should I appeal the denial of my initial application for St. Louis Social Security disability?
Yes. If your initial application is denied, do not lose hope. Two-thirds of initial applications for Social Security disability benefits are denied while over half of those who appeal are awarded disability benefits. Receiving a denial of your initial application is the first step towards an appeal hearing, which is where you will have the best odds of being awarded Social Security disability benefits.
The process favors appellants over applicants. The denial of your initial application is based only on a Social Security disability examiner’s review of your file. At the application stage, the examiner doesn’t have the opportunity to hear from you and your witnesses in person. As a result, disability examiners frequently focus on the medical records rather than on fully understanding how your impairment limits your ability to function in the workplace.
When you appeal, you will have a disability hearing before an administrative law judge. At your hearing, with the assistance of your St. Louis disability attorney, you will have the opportunity to appear in person before the judge and explain your impairment(s) in your own words. In addition, your witnesses can tell the judge about your impairments and how they limit the activities you are able to do. This helps St. Louis disability appellants win Social Security disability benefits.
If you believe you cannot work, you should appeal the denial of your initial application. We can help you appeal the denial of your application. For more information about appealing, take a look at The appeals process, which explains in detail the appeals process, and read Appealing a Denial of Benefits, a free downloadable e-booklet about appealing a denial.
Do I need a St. Louis disability attorney or representative for my St. Louis disability claim?
The quick and easy answer is “yes” and “no.” If the question is, “Am I legally required to hire an attorney?” then the answer is “no.” Some claimants do win Social Security disability benefits without an attorney or representative. In fact, some claimants file their initial application by themselves and are awarded disability benefits at this step — so there is sometimes no need to incur the expense of an attorney or representative. Other disability claimants may need our help filing their initial application.
While some disability claimants never hire an attorney throughout the entire process, once your initial application has been denied, we advise all clients to immediately seek the representation of a knowledgeable St. Louis disability attorney. We believe it is wise to hire an attorney but only if the attorney specializes in Social Security disability law. The attorney should fully understand Social Security law and be familiar with the disability application and appeals process. The Social Security Administration has stated that claimants with representation have a greater chance of success than those without representation. However, if an attorney isn’t familiar with Social Security law, then the value the attorney adds isn’t great.
Where a Social Security attorney or representative really adds value is by helping you document your case; in particular, by obtaining helpful medical documentation, such as admission histories and physicals, emergency room records, and physical therapy evaluations, for your disability claim. An experienced St. Louis disability attorney will make sure your case file contains the actual test results for all significant positive results, and that those results are consistent with the Social Security Administration’s specific requirements for particular kinds of medical evidence. If negative records exist in your case, they will also submit those, but will refine their presentation of your case to account for their existence. They will prepare a final medical documentation package so the Social Security judge will have all the information he or she needs to make a favorable decision.
Another good reason to hire an attorney is that he or she can provide you with a basic idea of the value of your case. If an attorney really wants your case, this is usually a good indication that he or she thinks it’s a winner. However, if the attorney is indifferent towards your case, you may have a borderline or loser case. Some firms have the philosophy that they will take almost any case, knowing that a good percentage will win. Others want to only pick winners. If you have a “cherry picking” firm, you know that your case has merit. Because this process can take up to one to two years, it is good to know at the outset what kind of chances you have so you can plan accordingly.
By focusing on Social Security law, we provide our clients the kind of experience and expertise their cases deserve. Our goal is to win every Social Security disability case we take. In order to do this, we will not accept a case unless we believe there is a strong possibility of success. Another reason we do this is that the Social Security Administration has a large backlog of cases, which slows down the determination process for everyone, and we don’t want to add to this problem.
Experienced St. Louis disability attorney can help you apply for Social Security disability benefits or appeal any denial
We strive to make client service a top priority. By limiting our case intake to approximately 100 cases per year, we can give each case its due time and preparation. If we take your case, you can rest assured that we think it is a good one and worth our time and investment
We provide a free case evaluation for all cases submitted by disability claimants residing in the St. Louis metro area, including Illinois. If you think we can we can help you with your Social Security disability claim or appeal, please complete the form to the right or contact us at:
David M. Hicks, P.C.
St. Louis, Missouri office:
Two City Place Drive
St. Louis, Missouri 63141
Tel: (314) 812-4885
Fax: (314) 812-2550
Maryville, Illinois office:
7720 Stonebridge Golf Drive
Maryville, Illinois 62062
Tel: (618) 343-0901
Fax: (618) 301-3360
Representing Social Security disability claimants throughout the St. Louis metro area.