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

Getting a lawyer after your disability claim is turned down

If you get denied for SSD or SSI, and the next appeal you would file is for a hearing before an administrative law judge, then you should absolutely get a lawyer. This is for a multitude of reasons. You will not likely know anything about medical vocational rules or how medical evidence is evaluated, or what kind of statement should be obtained from a doctor who has treated you. Someone who handles disability claims professionally for a living will, however.

It is for this very reason that the person you get to work on your case should be someone who specializes in disability claims only. You will need someone who is very familiar with Social Security rules, regulations, and case law, not to mention how decisions are made by disability examiners.

If your claim was denied on a disability application, you can put off getting representation. But…most claims that get denied on an application also get denied on a reconsideration appeal, which comes before the hearing. So, it still makes sense to get a disability lawyer immediately after you get your first denial.

After you first get denied

If your claim is denied, you probably want to get your appeal filed as soon as possible. You have 60 days to get the appeal submitted (actually, this applies to any appeal in the disability system). But its best not to wait. The sooner you get the appeal filed, the sooner you can get a decision.

In 40 of the 50 states, the first appeal will be a reconsideration. That is typically overwhelmingly denied (that national average seems to be around 90 percent, though it varies in individual states). If it is denied, you should consider filing the second appeal, a request for a hearing before an administrative law judge. Statistically speaking, the odds are good for most claimants, especially with the outcome they experienced at the initial claim and reconsideration levels. It is absolutely worth doing.

Should you get a lawyer or a non-attorney disability representative (many non-attorneys were former SSA employees and disability examiners, some were even former hearing office personnel)? That's a good question. If you get denied on a reconsideration and the next step is to request a hearing, my personal opinion is that you should immediately get representation. Going to a hearing alone is (again, in my opinion) quite foolish. Individuals wait a very very long time to get to a hearing after requesting one. And to show up with no knowledge of how the system works, how decisions are made, how evidence is evaluated etc etc is not the wisest route to take.

Another way to put it is this: why would someone wait 1-2 years to get their hearing date for a hearing event that may last only 10 minutes and completely waste that opportunity because they walked in with zero preparation and zero knowledge? There are individuals who go to hearings unrepresented and win and that may be because their case is a "slam dunk", i.e. it never should have been denied in the first place. But that fact does not negate the significant risk of going to a hearing alone.

I have heard/read many individuals state they did not want to pay a fee that is equal to 21% of their back pay to a lawyer (up to a maximum that is currently $6000). Well, if a person ends up losing their case, in hindsight that 21% was probably not a bad tradeoff for enhancing the chances of winning.

The issue of representation is really a no-brainer. The issue within that issue is when to get representation. If you are headed to a hearing, definitely. Before that, it is debatable. Some reps will not do a whole of anything prior to a hearing. However, that said, some representatives will actually try to develop a case at the initial claim or reconsideration level, win it faster, and save their client many months of waiting to get monthly benefits. So, it might behoove a person to ask a prospective representative if that is something they do.

Also, there are many people who file for disability, get denied, and then totally drop the ball. They fail to file their appeal timely. Then if they later pursue the claim they have to start over with a new application. That means a lot of wasted time and effort. Obviously, having representation sooner helps avoid that because someone is handling the case who will file the appeal. And, certainly, there are instances where a person will fail to file their appeal timely because there are memory issues, or depression. These individuals may benefit strongly from early representation.

Finally, if a person decides to get representation, they may find it helpful to get someone local. Being represented by someone 800 miles away is not the best option, in my option. It is also more expensive since these representatives will try to recover travel and related expenses from the person they flew in to represent.

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:

How long does it take to file for disability?
How much does Social Security permanent disability pay?
How much back pay will I get for SSI?
What happens if you get denied for Social Security Disability three times?
How Many Times Will Social Security Disability Deny You before You Get Approved?
What happens if a reconsideration for Social Security Disability or SSI is denied?
Get a disability lawyer to win benefits
Does Social Security approve a disability application the first time?
Why does it take so long to wait for a disability hearing
Questions about getting a disability lawyer
What conditions will qualify for disability in Missouri?
How much can you get for disability in Missouri?
Disability requirements and criteria in Missouri

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

Do I need an attorney to win disability?
How Long Does It Take To Go Before A Judge For Disability?
Will a Judge give you an Immediate Decision at the Disability Hearing?
What happens when you go to a disability hearing?
Social Security Disability SSI and Medical conditions
Social Security Disability lawyer fee
Can a lawyer or attorney speed up my disability case?
When can I expect my first disability check and my back pay check?
Going to a medical exam for Social Security Disability or SSI
Filing for disability - How to file the disability application
Do you need a lawyer to file for disability?
How Far Back Can SSI Back Pay Be Paid?
Can you get temporary Social Security Disability or SSI benefits?
The Social Security Disability Award Letter
Social Security Disability SSI Eligibility Requirements
How Many Times Will you be denied before You Get Approved for Disability?
What makes you eligible for Social Security Disability or SSI?
How to Prove disability and qualify to win benefits
How to speed up the disability process
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.