There is more to Social Security claims than you might think.

Join Everyday Law and special guest, Attorney Perry Smith, of Waukegan’s Wysocki & Smith, as we talk about who can receive Social Security disability, and how to go about getting benefits. Attorney Perry Smith can be reached at his office number of (847) 623-2200.

The Initial Application: The Claimant Should Do It Himself

Social Security disability claims can arise in a number of ways — including injury, illness, psychological issues and developmental disabilities. To obtain benefits, a claimant must file an initial application – either online ( or at the local Social Security office, where a representative can assist a claimant.

According to Attorney Perry Smith, a claimant file should file the initial application themselves, rather than hire an attorney, because it saves money, and the claimant knows their own situation and medical history best. In preparation of filling out the application, Attorney Smith also recommends that a claimant make a list of all medical providers, dates of service and contact information as well as any employment information.

If your initial application is denied, it is probably time to hire an attorney, although Attorney Smith states that a claimant can possibly handle the work for a first appeal themselves, because the first appeal is done on the documents, such a medical records and work history reports, and does not involve an actual hearing before a judge with witnesses. A decision on the initial application can take 3 to 4 months.

Unfortunately, an overwhelming percentage of initial applications are denied (85%). And what follows are a series of “appeals,” finishing (hopefully) with a hearing before an administrative law judge.

What To Do When Your Application Is Denied? Hire a Lawyer.

However, if your application is denied after the first appeal, it is best to obtain an attorney for the second appeal, because that appeal will involve a hearing before an administrative law judge. Additionally, several witnesses – such as medical experts and vocational experts – may be involved in those hearings.

If you are denied at that stage, then appeals of the decisions of the administrative law judge may be filed with the Appeals Counsel in Falls Church, Virginia. However, you should know that outright reversals at this point are extremely rare.

Leadership in the Lake County Bar Association

In addition to his law practice, Attorney Perry Smith has been very involved with the Lake County Bar Association. He has served as chairman of a number of Bar committees, including the Legal Aid Committee, now known as the Community Outreach Committee. That committee helps Prairie State Legal Services provide pro bono attorneys for indigent persons with civil matters. Smith has also served as the president of the Lake County Bar Association president during its move from County Street to its present home on Grand Avenue.