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SSDRC Disability Blog

Why do I need a Disability Lawyer? Can I do the claim myself?

I found a statement similar to the title of this post in a forum recently. And it reminded me of a conversation I had years ago with a gentleman who been denied on his social security disability application. He was typical of some prospective new clients in that he had quite a few questions: what does representation involve, how much does it cost, how long will the case take, what are the chances of winning, etc, etc. Near the end, though, he blurted out that he didn't see the need for representation since he was of the mind that he could handle his case satisfactorily on his own. So I essentially told him the following:

1. No claimant is required to have representation on a social security disability or SSI disability claim, at any level of the system, including the hearing level, the appeals council review of an administrative law judge's decision, or district court.

2. If a claimant decides to have representation, they can choose to have either a non-attorney claimant's representative, or a disability lawyer, meaning an attorney who handles SSD and SSI cases (hopefully, this attorney specializes in social security versus being one who handles a little bit of personal injury, a little bit of traffic, and a little bit of disability--you really do want a specialist versus someone who doesn't even know the basic concepts involved in the SSA disability system).

3. Many claimants do just fine without representation.

4. Many claimants win their cases at the initial claim (disability application) and reconsideration levels without the use of a disability representative. A sizable percentage of claimants who go to hearings by themselves also win their disability claims.

After some more discussion, this individual decided he did, in fact, want representation. Why? Perhaps because he felt comfortable with the information I had given him, or the manner in which I had relayed it to him. Perhaps, as well, it was because I had explained---

A) How long it can take to get to a disability hearing (he had been denied on his initial claim and needed to file a request for reconsideration---since reconsideration appeals are overwhelmingly denied, he was most likely heading to a hearing at some point),

B) The fact that many ALJs (administrative law judges) will advise claimants who show up unrepresented that they can reschedule for the purpose of obtaining representation,

C) Claimants with representation have a statistically higher chance of being awarded benefits.

I think what he took away from the conversation was that hearings take too long to get to and are too important to simply take a chance on not being as prepared as possible. And from my perspective, as I informed him, that involved having representation.

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

Related pages:

Can you Get Disability if you can do Some Daily Activities?
Your age and if you will be approved for disability
Trying to get disability if you are a woman
What medical conditions get you approved for disability?
Social Security Disability qualifications
How to claim disability benefits
How to file for disability in Colorado
How long do you have To Be Out Of Work Before You Get Social Security Disability (SSD)?
Can you apply for SSI for a learning disability?
If your disability claim is approved or denied
How to file for disability in Maine
Do Lawyers Improve The Chances of Winning Social Security Disability or SSI?
Filing for disability with lupus
Social Security Award letter for SSD, SSI
How Much Income Can you Earn If you draw Social Security Disability?

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 provide answers to basic questions about pursuing disability benefits

How to check the status of my Social Security disability claim
To qualify for disability, what to prove
Preparation to win a disability hearing
Social Security Disability lawyers FAQ
How Much Income Can you Earn If you draw Social Security Disability?
What does Social Security Disability SSI pay, how much?
Social Security Disability Maximum back pay
Social Security Disability Claims and Medical Exams
What is qualifying for disability benefits based on?
Partial Social Security Disability SSI benefits
Filing for disability and financial help
Getting approved after a Social Security Disability Psychological exam
How long does it take to receive disability benefits after you are approved?
Does Social Security Disability Come With Medicaid Benefits?
Applying for Disability or SSI - How long does it take
Can you work if you get Social Security Disability?
Am I eligible to receive disability benefits?
What medical disabilities, conditions qualify for Disability Benefits?
How to get disability for degenerative disc disease
What mental problems qualify for disability?
Conditions that get approved for disability