The Risks that Come From Pursuing Your Disability Case Without an Experienced Pennsylvania Attorney
People may have various reasons for taking on the legal system without an attorney. Perhaps they think they can do as good a job as most lawyers. Perhaps they do not wish to divulge the details of their personal affairs with someone they don’t know. In a lot of situations, people decide they cannot afford an attorney. The result of many cases teaches that the opposite is often true: that you can’t afford not to have legal representation. That includes taking on your disability benefits case. Your benefits are undoubtedly very important to you. Make sure you arm yourself with the knowledge and skill of an experienced Pennsylvania Social Security attorney.
The disability case of a man named Kenyotta shows just how valuable capable counsel can be. Kenyotta filed a disability claim and was judged to be disabled in 1993. Twenty years later, he was deemed to be no longer disabled. Kenyotta asked a disability hearing officer to review the decision, but the outcome remained unchanged. He appealed to an administrative law judge. His hearing before the ALJ was scheduled for Oct. 27, 2015.
Kenyotta didn’t hire an attorney. The importance of this decision was amplified because he did not show up for the hearing. He sent a letter asking for a postponement of the hearing and explaining why he could not attend. The letter, dated Oct. 27, 2015, said that Kenyotta was indigent and could not afford transportation to the hearing. He also made reference to an epileptic seizure and “an ongoing continuous relapse of [his] disability condition.” The ALJ determined that Kenyotta did not have a valid basis for missing the hearing and dismissed his case.
The federal District Court upheld the previous decisions. The Third Circuit Court of Appeals gave Kenyotta a partial reprieve, but only a small one. That court stated that Kenyotta’s self-composed filings could possibly be construed as a viable argument that he was denied due process of law by the agency and the ALJ.
While Kenyotta was able to get his case revived on his own, that may very possibly be only a fleeting, temporary victory. Generally, constitutional arguments like a Due Process Clause argument are not successful, especially when they are advanced by self-represented parties who lack an in-depth familiarity with constitutional law. Proving a due process violation involves detailed and precise legal arguments that include interconnecting the facts of the case along with the law to show that what you received fell short of the required level of due process.
Typically, throwing out a claimant’s case for non-attendance at a hearing will not be a due process violation, even if the claimant was genuinely indigent. Persuading a court otherwise typically involves a detailed understanding of Social Security Disability procedure and due process law. It is very possible that Kenyotta could still ultimately lose in his disability case.
The main “take-away” of this man’s tenuously surviving case is the importance of not going it alone when it comes to your disability case. If your disability benefits are important enough to fight for them, they are important enough to fight for them with representation from legal counsel who is experienced and well-versed in the procedural machinery and the specifics of the law.
For skilled representation upon which you can rely, talk to the diligent Pennsylvania Social Security attorneys at Needle Law Firm. Our team can offer you the detailed knowledge and zealous advocacy your case needs, along with the personalized attention you deserve.
Contact us today for a free, no-obligation consultation by calling 570-344-1266.