As the year draws to a close, I’ve taken some time to think about why we have such a high success rate.

Looking at all decisions in 2008, we won 92% of our Social Security Disability cases. This number is far higher than the national average, where no more than 53% of all applicants win their claims.

On reflection, three main differences appear to explain how Hermann Law Group win so many more disability cases than the national averages.

First, our claims are better developed at the initial level. We file the initial application for about 75% of our clients, and we do it electronically, which means that the application is received and processed much more quickly by the Social Security Administration than a paper filing. When we file a claim, we make sure to present all the information necessary to make a favorable determination, making it much more likely our clients will win the claim without a hearing. In fact, we have a paralegal whose main job is to make sure we get the medical records we have requested from our clients’ treating sources, taking that burden off our clients.

Second, we encourage our claimants not to give up. Nationwide, about 2/3 of all applicants who are initially denied never even bother to appeal. We take ALL of our clients who are denied at their initial application on to the hearing level, except for the rare cases where they had returned to work before meeting the 12 month durational requirement.

Finally, at the hearing level we are prepared. We make sure that our claims are fully developed and that our clients are always present for their hearing. By the hearing level, about 85% of our clients win.

It is a pity how many unrepresented people with viable claims give up either after their initial denial or, even more surprisingly, by not even bothering to attend their hearings! Many of the clients who come to us have actually filed and given up on earlier applications. If they get to us soon enough, we are often able to reopen earlier claims.

Though not every disability claim is a potential win, it is clear that retaining a lawyer can greatly increase a claimant’s chance of success, regardless of where the claim is in the process. But the earlier in the process that the attorney gets that case, the easier it becomes to win.

Here’s wishing you a Happy and Healthy New Year!

Lew Insler