Topic Categories:

Social Security Disability Definitions

Social Security Disability and SSI Overview

The Requirements for Disability

Social Security Disability and SSI Applications

Tips and Advice for Disability Claims

How long does Disability take?

Common Mistakes after Receiving a Disability Denial

Disability Denials and Filing Appeals

Social Security Mental Disability Benefits

Disability Benefits offered through Social Security

Benefits through SSI disability

Disability Benefits for Children

Disability Qualifications and How to Qualify

Social Security Disability and Working

Winning your Disability Benefits

Social Security Back Pay and the disability award notice

Disability Lawyers and Hiring an Attorney

Social Security Disability SSI List of Conditions

What is considered a Disabling condition by Social Security?

Social Security Disability SSI and Medical Evidence

Filing for Disability Benefits

Eligibility for Disability Benefits

SSDRC authored by

Ask a question, get an answer

Disability Lawyer Success Rate - Do Lawyers Improve The Chances of Winning Social Security Disability or SSI?

How to prove you are disabled
and win disability benefits

Social Security allows disability applicants to obtain the services of a disability lawyer or representative at any time during the disability process (i.e. initial disability claim, reconsideration appeal, request for administrative law judge hearing, appeals council review request, and federal court), however claimants do not have to have a disability lawyer or representative during any of these disability claim levels. So why should a disability applicant consider a disability lawyer or Social Security disability representative?

Most individuals who file for disability may not need the help of a disability lawyer or non-attorney disability representative during their initial disability claim, or even during their reconsideration appeal, because these levels of the claims system mostly involve paperwork completion or attending any medical examinations that Social Security deems necessary for their disability decision.

If an individual does not have any physical or mental problems that might prevent them from responding to requests for information, or attending consultative examinations, they may simply not need a disability lawyer's services. Frankly, in many instances, the only way a disability lawyer or representative helps an individual at these levels is by making make sure that the claimant files their appeal paperwork timely, respond to requests for information, and helps to make sure that their client remembers to attend consultative medical examinations.

Other than these reasons, disability lawyers or representatives often do not really improve an individualís chances of winning disability benefits. However, having said this, it should be pointed out that some representatives do an extraordinarily good job of winning their client's cases at the initial claim (disability application) or reconsideration appeal levels.

Such representatives tend to be fairly aggressive when it comes to gathering the necessary evidence for establishing (in the medical record) the severity of the claimant's condition needed to rule out their ability to engage what the social security administration refers to as substantial and gainful work activity. Of course, not everyone representative will be this aggressive in their approach, or as effective in their efforts.

How does a disability lawyer improve an individualís chance of winning social security disability or SSI if they are not able to prove the legitimacy of the case at the initial claim or reconsideration appeal levels?

The level of the system at which most disability lawyers or Social Security representatives improve their clientís chances of winning disability is the administrative law judge disability hearing. Disability claimants who have representation are as much as fifty percent more likely than those who do not have representation to win their disability benefits at an ALJ disability hearing.

There are reasons why disability lawyers and Social Security representatives have a higher approval rate than disability applicants at their disability hearing. For example, not many average disability applicants know anything about disability impairment listing criteria, vocational guidelines, or past work, or how social security decides that a claimant has the ability to perform other types of work.

Additionally, a disability lawyer or representative knows what updated medical information is needed for the hearing and is able to get the needed information.

Analysis of the case, however, is often the primary benefit of being represented at a disability hearing. By obtaining a copy of the social security file and reviewing the prior decisions that were made at the disability application level and reconsideration appeal levels, a disability attorney can A) identify discrepancies and inadequacies in the development of the case and B) ascertain the strength of the medical record that was available to the disability examiners who previously handled the case.

Finding errors in prior decisions can sometimes lead a representative to requesting an on-the-record decision from an administrative law judge. On-the-record bench decisions may be granted in cases where it is fairly obvious to the judge that the claim should be approved and benefits awarded, making the time-consuming process of scheduling and holding a hearing unnecessary (which can shave many months of time from a case).

Return to:  Social Security Disability Resource Center, or read answers to Questions

Information on the following topics can be found here: Social Security Disability Questions

Social Security Disability SSI decisions | The Disability Decision Process and What gets taken into Consideration | Getting Denied for Disability Benefits | Questions about Social Security Disability Approvals and Being Approved | Social Security Disability Hearings | Social Security Medical Examinations | Social Security SSI Doctors | Social Security Disability Representation | Social Security Disability SSI Reviews