Social Security Disability Resource Center

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Requirements | How long it takes | Back Pay
Mental Disability | What is a disability? | Tips
SSI Benefits | How to Win | Disability Awards
Hearings | Appeals | List of Disabling Conditions

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).

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  • SSDRC Homepage:

    Social Security Disability and SSI Resource Center

    The Most Basic questions about Getting Disability Benefits

    Social Security Disability SSI and whether or not you can work

    Common Mistakes to avoid after being denied for Disability

    Social Security Disability SSI Questions and Answers

    More Social Security Disability SSI Questions and Answers

    Common Questions about Social Security Disability and SSI

    Winning Social Security Disability or SSI Benefits

    The SSI Disability Benefits Program

    Medical exams for disability claims

    Applying for Disability in various states

    Social Security Disability SSI and Doctors - Yours and Theirs

    Social Security Disability and SSI Claim Reviews

    Social Security Disability SSI System and Benefits for Children

    Denials, Appeals, and Getting a Disability Lawyer or Representative

    What you should know about Social Security Disability and SSI Denials

    Questions about Disability Lawyers and Hiring a Disability Attorney

    Frequently asked questions about getting Denied for Disability Benefits

    FAQ on Disability Claim Representation

    Disability hearings before Judges

    Selecting and hiring Disability Lawyers

    Various Types of Benefits including SSI, Mental, and Child benefits

    Social Security and SSI based on Mental Disability

    Social Security Disability or SSI Benefits for Children

    Disability Benefits through Social Security

    Filing for Social Security Disability or SSI Benefits

    Social Security Disability SSI: Medical Evidence and Records

    Filing your claim for disability benefits

    Eligibility for receiving disability benefits

    Info about Social Security Disability Approvals and Being Approved

    FAQ on Social Security Disability SSI decisions

    The SSD SSI Decision Process and what gets taken into consideration

    Resources on this site

    Social Security Disability, SSI Terms and Definitions

    Previously answered questions regarding SSD and SSI

    For Individuals living in North Carolina

    Applying for Disability in North Carolina

    North Carolina Disability Lawyer

    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?