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

Going to a Social Security Disability Hearing with a lawyer is better

A woman recently wrote in a forum that she was going to a Social Security Disability hearing alone. Her opinion was that a disability attorney would provide little benefit; moreover, she was of the mind that she would have no difficulty explaining the disability case to the administrative law judge.

Bad idea. And let rephrase at the risk of being redundant. VERY BAD IDEA. Yes, a percentage of claimants do go to disability hearings unrepresented, and a percentage of them win their cases. But, in my own opinion, the risk involved in doing this is unacceptable. If you consider the fact that even getting to a hearing after one has been requested can take two years, and that the entire process of filing for disability and then finally getting before an administrative law judge can take up to three years (or longer), it seems incredible that someone would actually take a chance of losing their case once they got to a hearing.

So, who are the individuals who believe they should go to disability hearings unrepresented? I suppose there are various types who hold this opinion. Very often, the ones I've encountered either A) have a very simplistic idea of what it takes to win a disability case, or have an ill-informed view of what happens at a disability hearing or B) simply balk at the idea of paying a disability attorney or non-attorney representative 25 percent of their back pay.

However, let me point this out. In addition to compromising one's chances of winning by going to a hearing alone, even a claimant who manages to be awarded benefits may not receive as much back pay as they might otherwise have received had they been represented by a disability representative who was able to succesfully establish the earliest possible onset date.

I occasionally come across individuals who advocate going to a disability hearing unrepresented, but I find their advice both foolish and dangerous. And for someone to argue that representation should be forgone simply to avoid the payment of a fee is nothing less than silly.

I should point out that I've never spoken to a single disability examiner or CR (social security field office claims rep) who ever considered, in the event that they had to file for disability, going to a hearing alone, and relying on their own personal knowledge of the disability system to "carry the day".

And, in fact, if you'll notice, when attorneys go to court on personal matters, they tend to go with someone else representing them.

Essential Questions

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How Often Does Social Security Approve Disability The First Time You Apply?

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Conditions Social Security will recognize as a disability

Previously answered questions regarding SSD and SSI

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Most popular topics on SSDRC.com

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Filing a Social Security Disability SSI application

Filing for disability - when to file

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Qualifications for disability benefits

How to Prove you are disabled and Win your Disability Benefits

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These pages provide answers to basic questions about pursuing disability benefits

Social Security Disability attorneys and representatives
What is the status of your Social Security Disability or SSI case
Rules and requirements to apply for disability
Will I qualify for disability?
Apply for disability for any medical condition
Steps and Tips for requesting a disability hearing
If your disability claim is approved or denied
Social Security Award letter for SSD, SSI
Temporary Social Security Disability SSI
Social Security Disability SSI reviews
How social security evaluates attention deficit
Filing for disability with Post polio syndrome
Tips for Getting Disability Approved
How far back Social Security will pay SSDI or SSI
SSI award notices are received by approved claimants
Winning and getting disability with a mental condition
Getting disability for rheumatoid arthritis
Can you work if you get Disability?
Who qualifies for SSI and how
How to file for disability and where to apply
Conditions that may qualify as disability
Denied on a disability application
Answering questions at a Social Security Disability hearing

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.