How to file for disability, Filing for SSI
Disability Requirements, Disability Status
How long is the wait?, Disability Application
The Social Security List of Impairments
Qualifying for Disability, Mental Disability
Disability Lawyer Info, Disability Back Pay

Do I need an attorney to get disability?

You may or may not need an attorney for your initial disability claim. If you are able to provide the necessary medical and job information for your disability claim, can read and interpret official correspondence from SSA, and respond to requests for information, there may be nothing more a representative can do for you at this level of the Social Security Disability process.

That said, two things should be pointed out. First, most claims are denied initially, meaning getting early representation can make a lot of sense. Secondly, a disability representative, who may be a disability attorney, or a non-attorney disability representative, can help reduce mistakes made on cases, and ensure that appeal deadlines are met. Many disability representatives will assist with filing the initial claim, and all will file the necessary appeals.

Specific things an attorney will to help your claim:

1. Make followup calls to check the status of your claim.

2. Receive copies of all Social Security correspondence sent to you so that they can remind you to respond to letters, questionaires, and attend examination appointments.

3. Obtain medical source statements from physicians who have a history of providing you treatment.

4. Evaluate your old and newer medical evidence to determine if your claim satisfies the SSA definition of disability. This is to determine if you have a case that should be be approved on a listing, or by considering your medical records and work history.

5. Evaluate your vocational work history to see if your case will qualify for Social Security Disability or SSI via a medical vocational allowance (an approval in which a disability examiner or judge determines that you cannot go back to your past work or perform some type of other work).

If you are not able to do these things you may need the services of someone who can help you get your disability claim filed.

The real need for an attorney or representative becomes more apparent if you have to use the Social Security Disability appeal process to continue your disability claim.

If your initial disability claim is denied, you have to file a reconsideration appeal, and to be honest at this appeal level you are most likely perfectly capable of completing the paper appeal forms or you can complete the reconsideration appeal forms online. The reconsideration appeal level has the poorest approval rate of the disability process, because the appeal goes to the same disability determination agency for a decision. The only difference being that it is sent to a different disability examiner, who like the initial disability examiner, uses the same decisional criteria. If the first disability examiner did not make an error, the decision will be the same.

If your reconsideration appeal is denied, you must file a request for an administrative law judge hearing. It is at this level of the disability process that it is advisable to have the services of a competent attorney or representative. Disability hearings are informal hearings held before an administrative law judge and as such you need someone who knows Social Security Disability case law, rules, and medical vocational guidelines.

It takes a long time to get to your disability hearing and the chance of being approved for disability is greatest at this level. But, proper case preparation can make the difference between winning or not. You will be more likely to win your disability case at a hearing if you have an attorney or non-attorney Social Security representative.

Essential Questions

What is the Social Security Disability SSI list of impairments?

Can you work while getting or applying for Disability?

How Often Does Social Security Approve Disability The First Time You Apply?

Tips for getting Social Security Disability or SSI benefits approved

What medical conditions will get you approved for disability?

What kind of Mental Problems Qualify for Disability?

Receiving a Disability Award Letter

Conditions Social Security will recognize as a disability

Previously answered questions regarding SSD and SSI

Applying for disability in your state

Most popular topics on SSDRC.com

Social Security Disability SSI Questions

The listings, list of disabling impairments

Can a mental illness qualify you for disability?

Disability Lawyers prevent unnecessary denials

How much Social Security Disability SSI back pay?

How to apply for disability for a child or children

Filing a Social Security Disability SSI application

Filing for disability - when to file

How to apply for disability - where to apply

Qualifications for disability benefits

How to Prove you are disabled and Win your Disability Benefits

Qualifying for Disability - The Process

How to get disability for depression

Getting disability for fibromyalgia

SSI disability for children with ADHD

What is the Application Process for Social Security Disability and SSI?

Common Mistakes to avoid after being denied for Disability

Social Security Disability SSI Exam tips

More Social Security Disability SSI Questions

Social Security Disability SSI definitions

What makes you eligible for Social Security Disability or SSI?

New and featured pages on SSDRC.com

Who can help me file for disability?

Related pages:

What Conditions Qualify For Social Security Disability?

What to do if you are under review for disability?

Do you have to notify your employer if you apply for Social Security?

Can I get disability on the basis of foot drop?

How long is the disability process?

When is the time to get a disability lawyer?

Attempts by Congress to cut Social Security Disability

What is your disability attorney supposed to do in their role?

Why is there a waiting period for disability?

The chances of winning with a Social Security Disability judge

Social Security Disability, SSI and more than one medical problem

Why does Social Security deny you when you have a lawyer?

Who can help me file for disability?

These pages answer some of the most basic questions for individuals who are considering filing a claim.

Can you get temporary Social Security Disability or SSI benefits?

Permanent Social Security Disability

What is the difference between Social Security Disability and SSI?

Who is eligible for SSI disability?

Can I Be Eligible For SSI And Social Security Disability At The Same Time?

What makes a person eligible to receive disability benefits?

Applying for Disability - How long does it take to get Social Security Disability or SSI benefits?

What happens if I file a disability application and it is denied by a disability examiner or Judge?

For the sake of clarity, SSDRC.com is not the Social Security Administration, nor is it associated or affiliated with SSA. This site is a personal, private website that is published, edited, and maintained by former caseworker and former disability claims examiner, Tim Moore, who was interviewed by the New York Times on the topic of Social Security Disability and SSI benefits in an article entitled "The Disability Mess" and also by the Los Angeles Times on the subject of political attempts to weaken the Social Security Disability system.

The goal of the site is to provide information about how Social Security Disability and SSI work, the idea being that qualified information may help claimants pursue their claims and appeals, potentially avoiding time-consuming mistakes. If you find the information on this site helpful and believe it would be helpful to others, feel free to share links to its homepage or other pages on website resource pages, blogs, or social media. Copying of this material, however, is prohibited.

To learn more about the author, please visit the SSDRC.com homepage and view the "about this site" link near the bottom of the page.