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

Should I Pay a Disability Attorney a 21% Fee?

"My name is Susan, and I am writing to you on behalf of my brother, Jim, who has filed for SSI Benefits and was denied, and then filed an appeal which was also denied. He has asked me for help at this point because he does not have a computer and he cannot drive. He lives in Hayward, CA.and I live nearby in Fremont, CA.

Jim has been diagnosed with epilepsy as an adult. He is currently seeing a physician and is prescribed seizure and anxiety medications.He has been off work for approx. 6 years.(Not sure about this number).

I have been looking at your Website: www.ssdrc.com and I really like the clarity it brings on all aspects of SSI filing. I have started to work with attorneys, but would like to avoid the 21% fees that they would obtain for their services. We understand that this is not an easy process and we are hoping that someone from your organization can help him.

What I would like to know is if I can get a person to work with my brother (and/or myself) over the phone. He has his paperwork and information. I would like to discuss his case with someone and help him get some help with what his next steps are. My guess would be to request a hearing date?

I look forward to hearing back from someone."

I am not sure where your brother is in the disability process. You state you (your brother) have started working with attorneys: if your brother has signed a fee agreement with a disability attorney that may be considered a legally binding document. This would mean that the attorney may be able to collect a fee or portion of their fee if your brother is approved for disability benefits.

If your brother does not have an attorney helping him file his appeal and his reconsideration has been denied recently, he needs to file his request for hearing appeal. He has sixty-five days from the date on the reconsideration denial notice to file a request for hearing. If he files late, it is very likely an administrative law judge will deny the hearing for late filing of the appeal. Not matter what else you and your brother decide to do, file the request for hearing as soon as possible.

With regard to representation at a disability hearing, I would suggest to you that it is not wise to go to the hearing without an attorney or Social Security representative. Social Security representatives know disability rules, case law, and guidelines that could improve your brother’s chance of being approved for disability benefits that the average person does not know.

National statistics indicate that disability applicants with representation are at least twenty percent more likely to win their disability cases than those who attend their disability hearing without representation. In some years, I've seen statistical data that has showed that the rate of approval increased by as much as 50 percent for represented claimants versus those who showed up at a hearing by themselves. Typically, when a claimant appears unrepresented, they don't even have the first clue as to how to interpret the information that is in their own file, which is made available to them at the hearing.

In my opinion, it would be worth twenty-five percent of any potential disability back payment to win my disability benefits. It takes such a long time to get a disability hearing and financial hardship just seems to go along with the disability process. Of course, it is your brother’s choice whether or not to seek professional help with his disability case. But preparation for a hearing can be a tricky thing. True, a good percentage of cases at the hearing level will be won regardless of whether representation is involved. However, there are many cases that would not be won were it not for the fact that a rep had been involved and had secured the necessary evidence to win the claim, in addition to properly addressing certain aspects of the case such as the basis for prior denials, or possible errors that were made by a disability examiner at the earlier disability application or reconsideration appeal levels.

Also, in many hearings the ALJ, or administrative law judge, will have a medical expert or vocational expert appear to provide expert testimony. When this happens, and it happens fairly often, it is good to have an experienced rep who knows how to respond to hypothetical scenarios regarding work scenarios as well as one who understands a discussion of physical and mental limitations in the context of the medical vocational grid that directs decisions or "disabled" or "not disabled".

Good luck with his situation.

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

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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

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New and featured pages on SSDRC.com

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Related pages:

How much does a Social Security Disability attorney get paid?
Does Social Security pay the Disability Attorney fee?
What is the maximum fee a Social Security Disability attorney can charge?
What Can A Disability Lawyer Charge For Their Services - Fees and Expenses?
What Expenses Will A Social Security Attorney Charge In Addition To The Fee?
The Social Security Disability Representation Fee and What a Lawyer is Paid
If You Are Represented For Social Security Disability or SSI, When Do You Pay The Fee?
How does a Social Security attorney get paid?
How do Disability Lawyers in North Carolina get paid their fees?

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.

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.