How to file for disability, Filing for SSI
Disability Requirements, Disability Status
How long is the wait?, Disability Application
The Social Security List of Impairments
Qualifying for Disability, Mental Disability
Disability Lawyer Info, Disability Back Pay
Social Security Disability Lawyers - Fees and Representation Information
While individuals filing for disability benefits with the Social Security Administration do not have to hire a disability lawyer at any level of the disability process, they should consider obtaining the services of a competent Social Security Disability lawyer or disability representative if they are filing a request for an administrative law judge hearing--or sooner if their own personal situation warrants it.
What do I mean when I say personal situations that “warrant” the services of a disability lawyer? If you have a mental condition that limits your ability to remember, read, or complete tasks timely (memory loss and depression are often involved in such situations) or a physical condition that prevents you from writing (such as arthritis or the residual effects of stroke), or perhaps a severe vision problem that prevents you handling your appeal online or on paper, you should consider getting help if your disability claim is denied.
Social Security has a sixty day appeal period plus five extra days mailing time from the date of your denial notice. If you do not return your completed appeal either online, by mail, or in person at your local Social Security office within that time frame, your appeal might be denied requiring you to begin the disability process again.
This is especially true for your disability hearing appeal request. Administrative law judges routinely deny request for hearing appeals if they are late.
Note: To elaborate on this, if your request for a hearing is sent in late, but you are granted good cause (i.e. an excuse for being late on the submission of the appeal) by the social security office that received the hearing request, it may still be ruled as a late appeal by the administrative law judge that receives your case many months later. So...just because the social security office accepts a late appeal does not mean that a disability judge will do the same.
Another reason to obtain the services of a disability lawyer for your disability hearing is that they know how to present your disability claim to an administrative law judge. Administrative law judges use vocational and medical guidelines to make their disability decisions, and it is unlikely that an applicant will know the rules or guidelines.
An experienced disability law practitioner will, however, be familiar with the vocational and medical guidelines used by SSA, as well as how claims are decided through the sequential evaluation process that is employed by both disability examiners and ALJs (administrative law judges).
If you decide to hire a disability lawyer make sure that you chose someone you feel comfortable with. Social Security requires you to sign a form selecting a disability lawyer as your representative. Your representative will have you sign the representation form (form SSA 1696) and a fee agreement when they take your disability case. You should read your fee agreement carefully before signing.
Social Security allows a fee for representation to be paid only if your disability claim is won and there are past disability benefits due (back pay). Social Security currently limits a disability lawyer’s fee to $6000 or twenty five percent of any past due benefits, whichever is less.
However, Social Security does allow a disability lawyer to charge for incidental fees at a rate agreed upon in the fee agreement and these may be payable whether your disability claim is won or lost.
Incidental fees might include but are not limited to traveling, cost of medical records, phone calls, and even the cost of postage. Some disability lawyers charge incidental fees whether you win or lose, some only charge them if you win, and some do not charge incidental fees at all. Most lawyers will charge you upfront for one type of incidental expense, the cost of obtaining medical record updates from your doctors and hospitals.
This is a cost that is unavoidable since your own medical treatment sources will typically not send records to the lawyer without expecting to be compensated in return; however, some attorneys will not charge upfront for this cost, but, instead, will allow you to reimburse them when the case is concluded. Bear in mind, though, that the majority of lawyers will charge upfront.
You should read all fee agreements carefully before signing them. Fee agreements are legally binding and your disability lawyer can demand payment for incidental expenses even if they lose (if you agreed to pay them in your fee agreement).
What is the Social Security Disability SSI list of impairments?
Can you work while getting or applying for Disability?
How Often Does Social Security Approve Disability The First Time You Apply?
Tips for getting Social Security Disability or SSI benefits approved
What medical conditions will get you approved for disability?
What kind of Mental Problems Qualify for Disability?
Receiving a Disability Award Letter
Conditions Social Security will recognize as a disability
Previously answered questions regarding SSD and SSI
Applying for disability in your state
Most popular topics on SSDRC.com
Social Security Disability SSI Questions
The listings, list of disabling impairments
Can a mental illness qualify you for disability?
Disability Lawyers prevent unnecessary denials
How much Social Security Disability SSI back pay?
How to apply for disability for a child or children
Filing a Social Security Disability SSI application
Filing for disability - when to file
How to apply for disability - where to apply
Qualifications for disability benefits
How to Prove you are disabled and Win your Disability Benefits
Qualifying for Disability - The Process
How to get disability for depression
Getting disability for fibromyalgia
SSI disability for children with ADHD
What is the Application Process for Social Security Disability and SSI?
Common Mistakes to avoid after being denied for Disability
Social Security Disability SSI Exam tips
More Social Security Disability SSI Questions
Social Security Disability SSI definitions
What makes you eligible for Social Security Disability or SSI?
New and featured pages on SSDRC.com
Who can help me file for disability?
Social Security Disability Lawyers - Fees and Representation Information
Social Security Disability Representation - Disability Lawyers and Representatives
Why does Representation increase the win ratio at a Social Security Disability or SSI Hearing?
Social Security Disability Issues and Representation
How does Social Security Disability Representation work?
Does Being Represented On A Disability Claim Win The Case Faster?
Who can provide disability representation in North Carolina?
Should you hire a Non-Attorney Disability Representative instead of a Lawyer?
Getting disability approved in Florida
Getting a Disability Lawyer in Florida
Qualifying for SSDI in Florida
These pages answer some of the most basic questions for individuals who are considering filing a claim.
Can you get temporary Social Security Disability or SSI benefits?
Permanent Social Security Disability
What is the difference between Social Security Disability and SSI?
Who is eligible for SSI disability?
Can I Be Eligible For SSI And Social Security Disability At The Same Time?
What makes a person eligible to receive disability benefits?
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?
For the sake of clarity, SSDRC.com is not the Social Security Administration, nor is it associated or affiliated with SSA. This site is a personal, private website that is published, edited, and maintained by former caseworker and former disability claims examiner, Tim Moore, who was interviewed by the New York Times on the topic of Social Security Disability and SSI benefits in an article entitled "The Disability Mess" and also by the Los Angeles Times on the subject of political attempts to weaken the Social Security Disability system.
The goal of the site is to provide information about how Social Security Disability and SSI work, the idea being that qualified information may help claimants pursue their claims and appeals, potentially avoiding time-consuming mistakes. If you find the information on this site helpful and believe it would be helpful to others, feel free to share links to its homepage or other pages on website resource pages, blogs, or social media. Copying of this material, however, is prohibited.
To learn more about the author, please visit the SSDRC.com homepage and view the "about this site" link near the bottom of the page.