Your Legal Rights at Work
According to Tim Whisman, a Pasadena, California, attorney who specializes in Social Security Disability Insurance, it is indeed possible to obtain benefits for adult ADHD.
Getting an Overview of Disability
Whisman advises that you consult a lawyer if you feel your ADHD makes it impossible for you to do your job: “Your goal at this point is to get an overview of the disability application and determination process. This is not vital to your eventually obtaining benefits, but is generally a good idea so that you will know what to expect.”
Learning Your Rights as an ADHD Adult
Whisman cautions that it's important to understand the criteria for disability since Social Security Disability Insurance is generally awarded to those who cannot hold down any type of job. You probably won't qualify if you can still perform another full-time job but can no longer complete the work from your prior job.
He adds, “In addition to learning about the process, you may be advised, for example, to begin documenting your problem. This may be a good time for you to begin seeking treatment for your adult ADHD because a record of evaluation and treatment will likely help substantiate your claim of disability.”
Should I Hire an Attorney from the Start?
Whisman says it's probably not a good idea for you to hire an attorney or advocate at the start. Your claim may be accepted without argument and you will have to pay your attorney a portion of the award. If more information is needed before a decision can be reached, you may be sent to a doctor at no cost to you. The results of this evaluation will be used with the information you've already provided.
What If My Application Is Turned Down?
If your first application is turned down, you may ask for reconsideration, says Whisman. There is a strict time limit for appealing, and an appeal will consider the information from your original claim as well as any new evidence you can present. “Be sure to read any denial notice sent to you from the Social Security Administration carefully,” Whisman advises. “If your application is turned down at this reconsideration stage and you still wish to pursue your claim, you may want to hire an attorney or other representative to help you prepare your appeal. Pay attention to time limits for filing the appeal.”
An experienced attorney or representative will be able to help you get the most benefit from your medical records and will help you tell the judge the most compelling aspects of your history and circumstances, Whisman says. “This help comes at a price, but only if you win, and the price is likely worth it.”
The Benefits of Legal Help
Whisman says after your application is turned down, a legal hearing may be held before an administrative law judge. “At this point, hiring a representative often makes financial sense, although appeals can be successful without the involvement of a representative,” he says.
Whisman says that while his firm has seen many people win their cases without an attorney or representative, “we've also seen that many people have little idea of what is going on during their hearing, and little knowledge of how to make their cases. An experienced representative can help you deal with that.”