Does your choice of disability lawyer or representative make a difference? It can. Ideally, you want someone you can easily communicate with. This will mean, in most cases, a local representative versus someone you see in a TV commercial (without a doubt, the TV guys provide the very worst level of representation and only see you as a “fee”).
Additionally, make sure you read whatever fee agreement the prospective rep wants you to sign. The actual fee amount is regulated by the Social Security Administration (if they win your case, they receive 1/4 of your back pay, up to a maximum that can never exceed $6000).
But representatives can charge for “incidental expenses”…and while some representatives only want reimbursement for the cost of getting medical evidence for your case (which is entirely reasonable), others will want reimbursement for every paper clip they use. Note: if you get a TV lawyer who is out of state, there’s a good chance they will want you to reimburse them for travel expenses to and from your hearing.
It goes without saying that you don’t want this kind of representative. Last note: you also don’t want a “part-time representative”. This is often an attorney who handles traffic cases, personal injury cases, malpractice cases, and only enough disability claims so that he or she knows just enough to be dangerous to your case. You want a specialist. That means a lawyer who only does disability cases, or a non-attorney advocate who only does disability cases and is possibly a former SSA field office worker, or a disability claims examiner like myself.