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 — how a claim gets worked on
Social Security Disability, SSI Disability - Terms, Definitions, Concepts
Using an Attorney for Social Security Disability
How to prove you are disabled
and win disability benefits
If you are applying for social security disability, you may be wondering at what point, if any, you should hire a disability lawyer. The answer to this question is different for each individual.
Applying for SSD is a fairly straightforward process—you simply go down to your nearest social security office and fill out the application (you can also do this online for SSD, but not SSI). Your case will then be assigned to a disability examiner at the agency responsible for disability determinations in your state. At some point you will probably be contacted by either a claims representative (CR) or examiner from the disability office, requesting medical records and work history information if you have not already provided it, or further clarification if you have.
While many claimants are perfectly capable of gathering the necessary information and presenting it in an organized, understandable format for the examiner, some may need additional help in this process, particularly if they are heavily medicated, in chronic pain, or mentally impaired. For these people, it is well worth it to retain either a disability lawyer or non-attorney disability representative (in some cases free disability advocates in the form of social workers are available—contact your social services department for more information).
If your social security disability claim is denied (and most are), and denied again upon reconsideration, you should seek professional legal counsel from a disability attorney. This is because the next step for a claimant is to appear in a disability hearing before an administrative judge. An attorney can help you make a stronger case before a judge by providing the expertise needed to:
1. Gather medical evidence. A disability attorney will know exactly what medical records are needed to support a claim, or to support a claimant’s residual functional capacity (RFC). An RFC from a physician corroborating your disability greatly increases your chance of approval before an administrative judge.
2. Make sure your disability claim includes information in support of important legal concepts. A disability attorney will have a thorough understanding of how social security defines such terms as compliance, alleged and established onset, date last insured, etc.
3. Present your condition in a way that best enhances your chances of receiving disability benefits. A disability attorney will know what impairments are listed in the social security list of impairments manual (the “blue book”), as well as what symptoms or limitations must be demonstrated to support diagnosis with one of these conditions. If your condition is not listed in the blue book, then your attorney will also be familiar with the criteria necessary to show that a medical vocational allowance is warranted. (A medical vocational allowance is awarded for disabilities that, while not listed in the blue book, prevent claimants from performing their current job or any other job for which they may be suited.)
It is highly recommended that claimants seeking disability benefits have some sort of disability representative at their hearing. In addition, those who are thinking of filing a disability claim may want to have an initial consult with an attorney to find out more about the disability application process in general.
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