Overview of Disability

Disability Back Pay

Disability Requirements

Disability Applications

Disability Advice Tips

How long do cases take?

How to win Disability

SSD Mistakes to avoid

Disability for Mental

What if you get denied?

How to file Appeals

Disability through SSA

SSI Disability Benefits

Disability for Children

How do I qualify for it?

Working and Disability

Disability Award Notice

Disability Lawyer Q&A

Disability Conditions List

What is a disability?

Your Medical Evidence

Filing for your Disability

Disability Eligibility

SSD SSI Definitions

Recent Questions

SSDRC Disability Blog

Hiring a Qualified Disability Lawyer in Pennsylvania

Claimants who are represented on disability claims in Pennsylvania 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

Getting a Pennsylvania disability lawyer involved in your case can improve your chances of being awarded disability benefits (ongoing and back pay), particularly if your case, like most of those filed in this state, is turned down by the state disability determination services agency.

The federal office of disability programs released information indicating that more than half of those who applied for social security disability (SSD) or supplemental security income (SSI) in Pennsylvania were denied disability benefits. Those who appealed the disability decision of the disability examiner by filing a request for a social security disability review or reconsideration were even less likely to be approved, with a denial rate of approximately 70 percent.

This is not surprising, given the fact that the agency reviewing the case, disability determination services, is the same agency that denied disability benefits in the first place.

If your claim for disability benefits is denied, and your reconsideration appeal fails as well, your next best step is to request a hearing before a federal administrative law judge (ALJ). It can take up to a year to have your case heard, but the outcome can be worth the wait—forty percent of claimants who have their case heard before a disability judge win benefits, the best odds for an applicant at any point in the entire disability determination process.

However, the odds of winning benefits before an ALJ are even greater when the claimant retains a lawyer specializing in SSD and SSI matters to present his or her case. The national average disability approval rate of disability claims rises from 40 to 60 percent when the claimant is represented by an experienced disability attorney, leaving little doubt that at this second appeal level a lawyer can make the difference between a loss and a win.

Given recent statistics showing the difficulty Pennsylvania residents experience in seeking disability benefits, it is strongly recommended that applicants retain legal counsel before this last, somewhat critical appeal, their chance to be heard before a federal judge.

Note: The request for reconsideration appeal step is currently suspended in the state of Pennsylvania as Pennsylvania is one of 10 prototype states testing a system in which denied claims move immediately to the hearing level upon appeal. Reconsideration may be reinstated at some point and many consider this likely. In the meantime, a claimant who is denied on a disability application should request, and prepare, for a hearing before a federal administrative law judge.

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

Filing for disability in Pennsylvania

Applying for disability in Pennsylvania

Filing for disability or SSI in Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania SSI disability benefits

Qualifying, will I qualify for disability in Pennsylvania?

Social Security disability SSI and being permanently disabled in Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania disability claim staus

Why a disability case in Pennsylvania takes so long

Disability decisions and denials in Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania Social Security Disability SSI decisions

If you get denied for disability in Pennsylvania

After being denied for disability in Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania disability appeals and hearings

Filing a disability appeal in Pennsylvania

Chances of winning disability on an appeal in Pennsylvania?

How can you improve the chance of winning disability in Pennsylvania?

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

Winning a disability hearing in Pennsylvania

Hiring a disability lawyer in Pennsylvania

Getting a disability lawyer in Pennsylvania

How will a Pennsylvania disability lawyer help my claim?

The cost to hire a disability attorney in Pennsylvania

When should you get a disability attorney in Pennsylvania?

How can a Pennsylvania disability lawyer win a disability case?