What is the Application Process for Social Security Disability and SSI?
How do you Win Benefits under Social Security Disability or SSI?
If I am determined disabled, how far back will Social Security pay benefits?
How do you prove your disability case if you have a mental condition?
What Can I Do to Improve My Chances of Winning Disability Benefits
Common Mistakes after Receiving a Denial of Social Security Disability or SSI Benefits
How to File for Disability - Tips for Filing
If You Get Approved For SSDI Will You Also Get Medicare?
How much does a Social Security disability attorney get paid?
Social Security Disability SSI Criteria and the Evaluation Process
How long does it take to be approved for SSI or Social Security disability?
What do you Need to Prove to Qualify for Disability Benefits?
Social Security Disability SSI and Fibromyalgia
Social Security Disability SSI and Degenerative Disc Disease
Can I Qualify For Disability and Receive Benefits based on Depression?
Answers to questions about SSD and SSI disability
What Disabilities Qualify for SSI and Social Security Disability Benefits?
Social Security Disability Status
Social Security Disability Tips ó how a claim gets worked on
Social Security Disability, SSI Disability - Terms, Definitions, Concepts
Lawyer for Social Security Disability--will I need one
How to prove you are disabled
and win disability benefits
You are not legally required to have a lawyer represent you in any social security disability proceeding. The majority of claimants who file for disability do not seek legal representation unless they are due to appear before an administrative judge. In fact, many lawyers refuse to represent a disability claimant until their case has been denied.
So the short answer is, no, you do not necessarily need a lawyer to help you file a social security disability (SSD) or SSI claim. However, here are some things to consider when deciding if you may actually benefit from legal representation and at what point you should consider contacting a disability attorney:
1. Are you capable of keeping on top of deadlines for filing imposed by the social security disability agency? If your initial application for disability is denied upon review, your next step will be to file a request for reconsideration.
The social security administration allows for about 60 days to pass between the rejection and filing the reconsideration appeal, but surprisingly many applicants fail to meet this deadline. If you miss the deadline, your case has to be resubmitted as a new claim, which will set you back at least an additional three to four months.
Some claimants may find that their physical or mental impairment makes them a poor advocate for themselves in this area, while others may just be naturally disorganized or find that they are unable to keep up with everything given their current financial and emotional circumstances. Those who find that they cannot, for whatever reason, monitor the progress of their own case could benefit from retaining a disability attorney early on in the process.
2. What will your next course of action be if your benefits are denied? Seventy percent of all disability claims are denied the first time around. Only about 15 percent of cases are approved upon request for reconsideration.
If your case falls into this vast majority and you are denied benefits, do you plan to file a new claim, or will you request a hearing before an administrative judge? Many claimants donít realize that their best chance for disability approval comes at a disability hearing. If a claim that has been denied is simply filed as a new application again, it will most likely be denied again.
However, claims that are heard before a judge have the best chance of being approved, and those that are presented by a disability lawyer are even more likely to succeed. Statistics show that, for unrepresented claimants, 40 percent of disability cases heard before an administrative law judge are approved (as opposed to 30 percent of those reviewed by a disability examiner).
In addition, the number of disability cases approved at the hearing level rises to 60 percent when the claimant is represented by an attorney at the disability hearing.
So, although you are not required to retain an attorney at any point in the disability determination process, you should consider both your own limitations and the possibility that your case will go before an administrative judge before ruling out the use of a representative.
Return to: SSDRC, or the Questions, Answers, Tips, and Advice page
Individual Questions and Answers
SSD and SSI are Federal Programs
The title II Social Security Disability and title 16 SSI Disability programs operate under federal guidelines and, therefore, the program requirements--medical and non-medical--apply to all states:
Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Indiana, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin, Wyoming
Recent approval and denial statistics for various states can be viewed here:
Social Security Disability, SSI Approval and Denial Statistics by state
Special Section: Disability Lawyers and unnecessary claim denials