Social Security Disability Resource Center
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Hearings | Appeals | List of Disabling Conditions
Will I need a Social Security Disability Lawyer in Michigan?
You are not required to have a lawyer represent you in any Social security disability or SSI application or appeal, in Michigan, or any other state. In fact, many claimants who file for disability do not seek disability claim representation unless they are denied, and others will not seek assistance until they are due to appear before an administrative judge.
Furthermore, there are some lawyers who refuse to represent a disability claimant until their case has been denied--though, increasingly, this is less common and many representatives will now consider handling a case from beginning to end, primarily to ensure that the evidence of record is developed properly.
So the short answer is, no, you are not required to have a lawyer to help you file a social security disability (SSD) or SSI claim. However, here are some things to consider when deciding if you may benefit from representation and at what point you should consider contacting an attorney or non-attorney representative:
1. Are you knowledgable regarding Social Security administrative law and procedure? By this, we mean the medical-vocational grid rules that usually determine the outcome for cases, the process of sequential evaluation that each case is subjected to, and the specific definition of disability that is used by the Social Security Administration.
For 99 percent of all claimants, the answer will be no. Unfortunately, however, a lack of knowledge as to how decisions are made and how the system works can impose disadvantages for a claim, particularly with regard to evidence and appeals.
2. Are you capable of keeping up with the status of your claim and effectively managing what needs to be done to keep the claim moving forward, which, of course, includes meeting deadlines, supplying medical and vocational evidence, responding to official correspondence, and filing appeal paperwork?
To use one example, the social security administration allows a claimant a 60 day window for submitting an appeal (plus an additional five days for the mailing of documents). Surprisingly many applicants in Michigan fail to meet this deadline. In some cases, this may be because claimants assume that they can send in their appeal on the last day of the appeal period, when, in actuality, Social Security regulations require that the appeal must be received and logged-in at a Social Security office by the deadline.
Regardless of the reason, if you miss the deadline, your case has to be resubmitted as a new claim, which will set you back at least an additional three to four months (the average amount of time it takes to process a disability application, though claims can take as long as six months in certain instances).
But potentially worse is the fact that starting over with a new filing date can result in lost eligibility for possibly thousands of dollars in disability back pay.
With regard to deadlines and case management, some claimants may find that their physical or mental impairment makes them a poor case manager and advocate for themselves, while others may find that they are unable to keep up with everything given their current financial and emotional circumstances.
Those who find that they cannot monitor and manage the progress of their own case may benefit from obtaining a disability attorney early on in the process.
3. What will your next course of action be if your benefits are denied? Nationally, approximately seventy percent of all disability claims are denied at the initial claim level. In Michigan, a recent statistic for initial claim denials was 70.4 percent. If your case falls into this vast majority and you are denied benefits, do you plan to file a new claim, or will you request a hearing before an administrative judge?
A high percentage of claimants will misconstrue the filing of a new claim as somehow being equivalent to filing an appeal. Nothing could be less true. When a new claim is filed, a claimant essentially gives up their appeal rights and practically guarantees that their case will be denied again at the initial claim level. They will forgo the chance of having their case presented before a judge at a hearing where the chances of approval in Michigan are more favorable (more than half of all hearings are approved, and the chances of approval rise when representation is involved on a claim).
It is estimated that the number of claims approved at the hearing level rises to 60 percent when the claimant is represented by an attorney or non-attorney representative. For this very reason, many ALJs (administrative law judges) will advise claimants who show up at hearings unrepresented that their hearing may be rescheduled to allow time to secure a representative.
Social Security Disability and SSI Resource Center
New and featured pages on SSDRC.com
Social Security Disability Requirements
Social Security Disability list of impairments
Social Security Disability Application
Can you get disability for arthritis of the knee?
How much income can you earn on Social Security disability?
If you get denied at a disability hearing, can you win later?
How much can an attorney charge for Social Security disability?
Can you get approved for disability based on Ulcerative Colitis?
The Most Basic questions about Getting Disability Benefits
Social Security Disability SSI and whether or not you can work
Common Mistakes to avoid after being denied for Disability
Social Security Disability SSI Questions and Answers
More Social Security Disability SSI Questions and Answers
Common Questions about Social Security Disability and SSI
Winning Social Security Disability or SSI Benefits
The SSI Disability Benefits Program
Medical exams for disability claims
Applying for Disability in various states
Social Security Disability SSI and Doctors - Yours and Theirs
Social Security Disability and SSI Claim Reviews
Social Security Disability SSI System and Benefits for Children
Denials, Appeals, and Getting a Disability Lawyer or Representative
What you should know about Social Security Disability and SSI Denials
Questions about Disability Lawyers and Hiring a Disability Attorney
Frequently asked questions about getting Denied for Disability Benefits
FAQ on Disability Claim Representation
Disability hearings before Judges
Selecting and hiring Disability Lawyers
Various Types of Benefits including SSI, Mental, and Child benefits
Social Security and SSI based on Mental Disability
Social Security Disability or SSI Benefits for Children
Disability Benefits through Social Security
Filing for Social Security Disability or SSI Benefits
Social Security Disability SSI: Medical Evidence and Records
Filing your claim for disability benefits
Eligibility for receiving disability benefits
Info about Social Security Disability Approvals and Being Approved
FAQ on Social Security Disability SSI decisions
The SSD SSI Decision Process and what gets taken into consideration
Resources on this site
Social Security Disability, SSI Terms and Definitions
Previously answered questions regarding SSD and SSI
About the Author of SSDRC, Tim Moore
For Individuals living in North Carolina
Applying for Disability in North Carolina
North Carolina Disability Lawyer
These pages answer some of the most basic questions for individuals who are considering filing a claim.
Filing for disability - How to file for SSD or SSI and the Information that is needed by Social Security
How to Apply for Disability - What medical conditions can you apply and qualify for?
Applying for Disability - How long does it take to get Social Security Disability or SSI benefits?
What happens if I file a disability application and it is denied by a disability examiner or Judge?
How to Prove you are disabled and qualify to win disability benefits
How do you prove your disability case if you have a mental condition or impairment?
Social Security Disability Back pay and How Long it Takes to Qualify for it and receive it
Social Security Disability SSI - Eligibility Requirements and Qualifications Criteria