Overview of Disability

Disability Back Pay

Disability Requirements

Disability Applications

Disability Advice Tips

How long do cases take?

How to win Disability

SSD Mistakes to avoid

Disability for Mental

What if you get denied?

How to file Appeals

Disability through SSA

SSI Disability Benefits

Disability for Children

How do I qualify for it?

Working and Disability

Disability Award Notice

Disability Lawyer Q&A

Disability Conditions List

What is a disability?

Your Medical Evidence

Filing for your Disability

Disability Eligibility

SSD SSI Definitions

Recent Questions

SSDRC Disability Blog

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. Butůmost 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 25% 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 25% 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.

Return to:  Social Security Disability Resource Center, or read answers to Questions

Related pages:

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

Information on the following topics can be found here: Social Security Disability Questions and in these subsections:

Frequently asked questions about getting Denied for Disability Benefits | FAQ on Disability Claim Representation | 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 | Disability hearings before Judges | Medical exams for disability claims | Applying for Disability in various states | Selecting and hiring Disability Lawyers | Applying for Disability in North Carolina | Recent articles and answers to questions about SSD and SSI

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?