Do you need a lawyer for a Disability Claim in Illinois?
Disability lawyers and non-attorney disability representatives in Illinois are only paid if they win a claimant's case. This is because what they receive as their fee is a percentage of the back pay. If the case is not won, there is no back pay and, thus, there is no fee (How much does a Social Security Disability attorney get paid?).
The fact that a representative can only be paid if they win the claim provides a strong and powerful incentive to properly prepare a case (such as obtaining the necessary evidence, which may include functional capacity statements from treating physicians) and properly present it.
If the case advances to the hearing level (most do), then the representative's presentation will include a working case theory that is supported by Social Security administrative regulations.
However, even considering the nature of how a disability attorney or representative is paid, most disability representatives have the goal of providing solid and helpful representation for their clients. Most will strive to win their client's cases for two other reasons: A) they wish to build upon their local reputation which advertises a high rate of success and B) they are empathetic to the plight of their clients, which is simply the fact that if the case is lost their client often faces financial ruin.
Do you need a lawyer for a disability claim in Illinois? At the initial claim level (the disability application), some would find this debatable. Thirty percent of cases at this level are awarded.
However, this also means that 70 percent of claims are lost at this level. A proactive representative can get a claimant' case won at even the initial claim level (disability application). And many would argue that if a representative is involved from the beginning of the case, the evidence will be properly developed so as to not disadvantage the case later.
What about individuals who have been denied on a disability application? At that point, representation does make sense because these individuals will typically also be denied on their first appeal, which is the request for reconsideration, and will consequently have to ask for a second appeal which involves a hearing in front of an administrative law judge.
Going to a hearing without representation is an extreme gamble. About forty percent of claimants who do not have representation at this level win their claims. However, for represented claimants, over sixty percent win their claims. That represents a sizeable gap between winning or not winning, based on whether or not representation is involved.
Keep in mind that it can take up to three years or longer, counting from the time that a case was first initiated, to get to the hearing level. To go to a hearing therefore, and not be sufficiently prepared, is really not wise.
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