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
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.
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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.