The best strategy for winning a Social Security or SSI case is hiring a lawyer to assist with your claim. Disability attorneys have experience and knowledge of the process, and that is critical to winning these often times complicated cases.
The majority of claimants (people who file for Social Security Disability) are denied at the initial application and reconsideration stages of their claim. Many claimants do not know the appeal deadlines or whether they even have a right to appeal the claims examiner's determination. Knowing the rules is critical to improving your chances.
First, a disability lawyer can help you from the initial application, filling out the actual application and forms. Your disability lawyer can also advise you on questions you have, and issues that without good advice could cause you to lose your case. For example, a lawyer can tell you whether the part-time job you've been working will hurt your claim.
At the hearing level, a lawyer is more important than ever, although the forms and applications completed in the earlier two stages could come back to hurt you in a hearing (if you did not get legal help in completing those forms on your initial application and reconsideration request).
Once you know your case is going to a hearing, your disability attorney will do a deep review of the evidence and then tell you what is lacking in your case (to be able to prove you have a disability) and what you can do to make your claim stronger so that it will be approved.
Once your hearing has been scheduled, your lawyer can tell you what the particular Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) might ask you in a hearing and what other aspects of the hearing you should get ready for. Being adequately prepared for the hearing will make you do better answering the ALJ's questions. If you are unprepared in a hearing, you can really harm your chances of winning.
At the hearing, your lawyer will be abe to cross-examine the government's vocational expert, using your limitations to rule out jobs that the vocational expert says you can do.
Not only does hiring a lawyer provides you with an ally in your case, it also gives you a disability law expert to help you come up with the best "theory" of why you are disabled. For instance, a theory could be that you can do less than sedentary work or you "grid out" because you are over 55, have a history if unskilled work, and a sedentary RFC. By developing your work history and your medical records, requesting certain medical tests if you need them as evidence, a lawyer can make the facts of your claim show that you deserve disability benefits.
Experienced disability lawyers give disability applicants a much better chance to win their benefits; the federal government's statistics show that claimants with representation are much more likely to win their benefits that claimants without representation.