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Hiring a Qualified Disability Lawyer in California





Claimants who are represented on disability claims in California tend to have a higher rate of approval, a need for fewer appeals, and more favorable "dates of onset" (the date the disability is proven to have begun) that lead to higher back pay benefits.

Representation may be through a disability lawyer or a specialized non-attorney disability representative. Many non-attorney reps are former Social Security Administration Claims Specialists and Disability Examiners with an extended history of working from within the federal system.

A qualified disability representative will have a knowledge of Social Security administrative law, particularly with regard to how claims are approved through the Social Security listings and the medical vocational grid rules. A qualified and competent disability representative or lawyer will also be skilled in the ability to obtain the most relevant case evidence, analyze it correctly, and incorporate it as part of a winning strategy for a claim.

To learn about fees for representation, see: "How do disability lawyers get paid?"


Additional information

California applicants for social security disability (SSD) or supplemental security income (SSI) should consider obtaining disability representation, if not at the initial application stage, then certainly at the appeals level of consideration.

Federal statistics have shown that more than 69 percent of all applications to the California state disability determination services agency (DDS is the state-level agency that renders disability claim determinations for the Social Security Administration) are denied, and less than 20 percent of claimants are likely to be approved on the first appeal, the request for reconsideration.

While these odds may leave individuals wondering if it is even worth filing for SSD or SSI benefits in California, it is important to keep in mind that the majority of disability claims are eventually approved, particularly when the case is heard before an administrative law judge at a hearing (the second appeal level) where the rate of approval improves substantially.

In fact, more than sixty percent of all disability applicants that appear before an administrative disability judge are approved; if the claimant has representation by either a disability lawyer or a non-attorney disability representative, the chances of approval are likely to exceed this percentage.

An experienced disability representative or disability attorney can help present your case for disability in the strongest light possible, and present your medical documentation in a way that is most likely to persuade a judge that your medical condition is truly disabling and ongoing, or unlikely to improve over the next twelve months.

Note: To satisfy the SSA definition of disability, a claimant must have at least one condition that is considered disabling and which lasts for at least 12 full months while preventing them from being able to engage in substantial and gainful work activity.

Given the fact that so many social security disability and SSI applicants in California are initially rejected, you should prepare yourself for the likelihood that it will be necessary to file at least one appeal before you are approved for benefits (assuming that you are approved for them).

Representation by an experienced disability lawyer or non-attorney representative may significantly improve your chances of winning your case, particularly if your first appeal fails and you request a hearing before an administrative law judge (your second, and, in most cases, best chance to appeal if your claim is denied).

How does a disability lawyer or disability representative improve the odds of winning a claim? The representative will review the claimant's file to learn the basis of the prior denials, what evidence was considered, what evidence may have been missed, and whether or not the previous decision makers (disability examiners at both levels) may have misidentified the claimant's past work history, misjudged the claimant's transferrable work skills, or misapplied a medical-vocational rule that would affect the outcome of the claim.

Additionally, a representative will try to obtain medical evidence that supports a "finding of disabled"; specifically, objective medical evidence that either proves that the claimant has a medical condition that satisfies a "listing" (in the Social Security list of impairments), or medical evidence that proves that the claimant has physical or mental functional limitations that rule out a return to work activity.








  • Index of Social Security Disability SSI Questions and Answers

  • 56 Answers to Social Security Disability SSI Questions







  • SSDRC Homepage:

    Social Security Disability and SSI Resource Center



    The Most Basic questions about Getting Disability Benefits

    Social Security Disability and SSI Back Pay Benefits

    Social Security Disability SSI and whether or not you can work

    How long does it take for Social Security Disability or SSI?

    Social Security Disability SSI Awards and Award Notices




    Tips, Mistakes, How to Qualify, and How to Win Disability

    Tips and Advice for Social Security Disability and SSI Claims

    Common Mistakes to avoid after being denied for Disability

    Disability Qualifications and How to Qualify for Disability Benefits

    Winning Social Security Disability or SSI, How to Win




    Denials, Appeals, and Getting a Disability Lawyer or Representative

    What you should know about Social Security Disability and SSI Denials

    Social Security Disability and SSI Appeal Process - How to file appeals

    Questions about Disability Lawyers and Hiring a Disability Attorney




    Various Types of Benefits including SSI, Mental, and Child benefits

    SSI Disability Benefits, Questions and Answers

    Social Security and SSI based on Mental Disability

    Social Security Disability or SSI Benefits for Children

    Disability Benefits through Social Security




    Information to start with regarding Disability Claims

    An Overview of Social Security Disability and SSI

    What is considered a Disabling condition by Social Security?

    The Disability Requirements to be eligible for SSD and SSI Benefits




    Filing for Social Security Disability or SSI Benefits

    Social Security Disability and SSI Applications

    Social Security Disability SSI List of Conditions and Impairments

    Social Security Disability SSI: Medical Evidence and Records

    Filing your claim for disability benefits

    Eligibility for receiving disability benefits




    Resources on this site

    Social Security Disability, SSI Terms and Definitions

    Previously answered questions regarding SSD and SSI



    The SSDRC Disability Blog




    For Individuals living in North Carolina

    Disability in North Carolina

    North Carolina Disability Lawyer

    Getting disability in North Carolina








    Filing for disability in California

    How do I Apply for Disability Benefits in California

    How long should you wait before you apply for disability?

    SSD and SSI applications in California

    What do you do if your California disability claim is denied?

    Do you file for your children when you apply for disability in California?

    Should you apply for disability in California after a denial?

    How long does a disability case take in California

    After you file for disability in California

    Filing for disability in California and your condition

    Filing a disability claim in California, long filing process




    The California disability process

    Do I need to be disabled a year in California to get disability?

    The Social Security Disability process in California

    California Disability determination process

    Disability approval criteria in California

    California Social Security Disability decisions

    Steps to Win Social Security Disability benefits in California




    Questions about disability in California

    How much can you make in California and still apply for disability?

    California Social Security Back Pay

    Can Disability benefits be garnished in California?

    Disability two year medicare waiting period in California

    California review of Social Security Disability claim

    California Social Security Disability status

    VA disability and California Social Security Disability

    Can a Congressman in California help on a disability case

    How do examiners make disability decisions in California?

    Applying for disability benefits in California




    How long does disability take in California?

    How long does it take to get a decision on a disability case in California?

    Why do disability claims take so long in California?

    How Long Will It Take To Get My Disability Decision If I Appeal in California?




    Disability claims in California with certain conditions

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    Filing for Disability with Fibromyalgia in California

    Social Security Disability For Mental Illness in California




    Winning California disability

    Will a lawyer improve the chance to win disability in California?

    Getting approved for disability in California

    Winning disability in California




    California Disability Lawyers and Representation

    Getting a disability attorney in California

    Finding a new disability attorney in California




    Applying for SSI in California

    Filing for SSI disability in California

    SSI disability denied in California

    Are SSI claims in California denied more than SSDI claims?

    How to apply for SSI Disability in California




    Doctors, medical records, and medical exams

    Doctors and applying for disability in California

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    Disability hearings in California

    Disability Hearings in California

    California quick disability hearing

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    How long does it take to get a disability hearing in California?




    Disability denials in California

    Disability Denied in California

    If a disability claim is denied in California

    Appealing a Social Security Disability denial in California

    If you get denied Social Security Disability in California

    Why are Most Disability Cases Denied in California?

    Getting approved or denied for disability in California




    Disability appeals in California

    How do you file a disability appeal in California?

    How many disability appeals do you get in California?

    If your California disability appeal is denied, can you get another appeal?

    If your disability reconsideration is denied in California

    Filing a reconsideration appeal in California

    Why was I denied disability in California?




    Qualifying for disability in California

    Qualifying for disability in California

    Qualify for SSD in California

    Will I Qualify For Disability Benefits in California?




    Disability lawyers in California

    Using a Social Security Disability Attorney in California

    Cost of a California disability attorney

    Why do disability lawyers in California sometimes not take cases?

    Hiring a Disability Lawyer in California

    Social Security Disability Attorney Fees In California

    How do Disability Lawyers in California get paid their fees?

    Should you get a disability lawyer before you get denied in California?

    Lawyer for a disability hearing in California

    Why was I denied disability in California?