Free Legal Representation for Social Security Disability or SSI claims

I've made several posts lately about bad advice in forums. Here's another excerpt, and certainly one of the worst pieces of advice for Social Security Disability claims that I've come across yet.

"If your disability case gets stuck in the red tape, you should look into finding legal advice. Did you know that there there is FREE legal counsel available just about anywhere? Check around. A penny saved, you know. Only, you can save yourself thousands of dollars. Best of luck on your Social Security Disability claim."

Why is this bad advice? Because, generally, legal aid is the last resort for a person pursuing a Social Security Disability or SSI disability benefit claim. In fact, in one locality with which I am familiar, legal aid will not even take a claimant's case until the case has been refused by a certain law firm (and this particular firm refuses very few cases).

But there's another very good reason for not utilizing the services of a legal aid attorney and here it is: if you have applied for disability benefits and desire representation, to maximize your chances of winning you should choose a representative who specializes in Social Security Disability and SSI cases, versus a jack-of-all-trades practitioner who has little experience in the area of disability claims and, consequently, little insight into how the system works.

The forum poster said "you can save yourself thousands of dollars". Perhaps. But there's another saying too. You get what you pay for.

FYI-- Disability representatives are paid 21% of a claimant's backpay if the case is won. If the case is not won, there is no fee, though a claimant may owe incidental expenses, typically for the cost of obtaining medical records.

About the Author: Tim Moore is a former Social Security Disability Examiner in North Carolina, has been interviewed by the NY Times and the LA Times on the disability system, and is an Accredited Disability Representative (ADR) in North Carolina. For assistance on a disability application or Appeal in NC, click here.

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