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

After filing for disability, when should I get a lawyer or representative?

Should you get an attorney for your disability claim? There are different ways to approach the question. The only time I would say that a person would be exercising poor judgement in this regard would be a scenario in which they have a hearing scheduled (or requested) and are intent on going to the hearing alone and unrepresented.

That is, in my opinion, foolish. Even if I, a former disability examiner and a non-attorney disability representative, suddenly found myself filing a claim and I had a hearing to go to, I wouldn't go without representation nor would I try to represent myself simply because there is a basic value in having someone advocate your claim for you.

Regarding the majority of individuals who find themselves at the hearing, they will simply have no idea of how to interpret what is in their files (which will include prior decisions and residual functional capacity assessments), how the decision was made on their case at the application and reconsideration appeal levels, and what is needed to establish that their claim satisfies the SSA definition of disability. Furthermore, they will be completely unarmed if the judge has expert witnesses present at the hearing. However, all of this regards the hearing level.

At the disability application and reconsideration appeal levels, there is not as much urgency in having disability representation. Let me speak further on that. There are some representatives, attorney and non-attorney, who will make a vigorous attempt to get your case won at those earlier levels. And if you happen to get such a representative, it can be extraordinarily beneficial.

Why? Because if your case is won without the need for a hearing, it can save you over a year's time waiting for a hearing to be scheduled, and possibly months more waiting for your benefits to be received. All of which can have a profound financial impact. Having said this, though, many, perhaps most, representatives will not make a strong effort to develop your case at the application and reconsideration appeal levels. Very often, this is simply due to the volume of cases they handle and a belief that, statistically, making that sort of effort is not really worth their time and effort.

But, even if this is the case, a person who obtains early representation can still benefit. When you are represented, your representative is responsible for filing timely appeals for you. Which may not sound like an extraordinary amount of work, but the simple fact is that a fair number of people miss their appeal deadlines. When you have representation, the appeal gets filed and the case moves forward. Representatives also do other things to help ensure that the case moves along such as sending out reminders if you have a consultative examination scheduled by a disability examiner.

To answer the question: if you have a hearing that you have requested, I would say get an attorney or non-attorney representative. If your case has not gotten that far, make the decision based on an evaluation of your needs. Keep in mind the fact that you may win your case on your application or reconsideration appeal without the need for any assistance, but if you obtain representation at those levels and the case is approved you will have to pay the disability lawyer representative a fee (which will be automatically deducted from your back pay).

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

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New and featured pages on SSDRC.com

Who can help me file for disability?

Related pages:

What is the Social Security definition of disability?
What does social security mean by disability?
When is a Person Considered Fully Disabled by Social Security?
Can you be approved for disability without having to go to a hearing?
Do doctors understand what medically disabled for Social Security is?
Why does it take so long to wait for a disability hearing
Total disability for Social Security
SSI Disability Appeal works better than a new claim
The list of differences between Social Security Disability and SSI
Getting disability approved on a reconsideration with an attorney
Can you speed up a disability claim?

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

Social Security Disability Back pay and How Long it Takes
What should you say if you go to a Social Security Exam?
Maximum back pay you can get from Social Security Disability or SSI
How to qualify for disability
What is the Social Security Disability List of Impairments?
What is considered a disability by Social Security?
How Long Does A Social Security Disability Appeal Take?
How does back pay for Social Security Disability work?
Your Social Security Disability Status
How do you find out if a disability claim has been approved or denied?
How to check Social Security Disability Status
Applying for disability, what medical conditions can you apply for?
How do you prove your disability case if you have a mental condition or impairment?
How much does disability pay?
Can I get permanent Social Security Disability or SSI?
How long will it take to get a disability decision letter?
Social Security Disability and SSI Medical Exams
How long does it take to be approved for SSI or Social Security Disability?
How Long to get a Disability Hearing decision?
How long to get disability benefits after you receive an award notice?
Social Security Disability and Working
What makes a person eligible to receive disability benefits?
How To Get Disability Through SSDI or SSI Approved
How Much Income Can A Person Earn If He Draws Social Security Disability?
Partial disability benefits from Social Security
Can I Qualify For Disability for Depression?

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.