Frequently asked questions about Hiring a Disability Attorney

Disability representation can make the difference between winning or losing.

by Tim Moore, Disability Representative in North Carolina

Disability representation through a disability lawyer or non-attorney disability representative can make the difference between winning or losing a disability claim. This is especially true at the hearing level where the case is decided by a federal administrative law judge.

These questions are organized by topic. However, the most commonly asked questions about using a disability attorney or non-attorney representative–such as “How much does a disability lawyer cost?”, “Can a disability attorney speed up a case?”, and “How does a disability attorney win a case?”–have been placed near the top.

Top pages

Using a Lawyer for an SSDI Disability Case
Here’s one example of what I mean: “Ask the lawyer what his win rate is”. I see this question all the time. But, honestly, no lawyer who wants your business is going to give you any answer that suggests anything other than a very high win rate, or a statement that indicates he or she wins most of his cases. So, in essence, this question is quite useless.

How much does a Social Security Disability attorney get paid?
All Social Security representatives, including disability attorneys and non-attorney disability representatives, are entitled to receive 25 percent of a claimant’s back payment for a case that they win.

What does a Social Security Disability Lawyer or Representative do for your claim?
You are allowed to have a representative assist you on your disability claim at any point. On this page, we’ll notate what disability lawyers and non-attorney representatives do at various stages.

How will an attorney help me win disability benefits?
How will a Social Security Representative or lawyer help you win Social Security Disability or SSI benefits? The simplest answer is by preparing a case and argument that is supported by objective medical evidence and which justifies either a listing level approval or a medical vocational awarding of benefits.

Can a disability attorney speed up my disability hearing case?
If you have representation on your Social Security Disability or SSI disability claim, your disability attorney can attempt to speed up the scheduling of your hearing before an administrative law judge, or even eliminating the need for a hearing altogether. Generally, this would only be possible in one of several ways.

Functions performed by disability representatives and attorneys

Should I have to go to court or get a Lawyer to get approved for Social Security Disability or SSI?
In actuality, an attorney is rarely needed at the disability application or reconsideration appeal levels. At the hearing, however, it is really just foolish to go unrepresented.

Disability Attorneys- Will they do your forms for you?
Some Social Security Disability attorneys and non-attorney representatives help their clients file their initial claim. However, most attorneys and non-attorney representatives do not get involved with Social Security Disability claims until the appeal process.

Will a Disability attorney try to Help You get Your Medical Records for your SSD or SSI claim?
Some representatives require their clients to pay the cost of obtaining the records up front, and this can be hard for disability applicants, who typically have an income that has already been significantly reduced, if not eliminated altogether, due to their medical condition.

How Long Does Your Attorney Have To File Your Social Security Disability Appeal?
If your disability claim has been denied, your attorney can file your appeal for you. You have sixty days from the date that is on the denial notice to appeal the denial. Additionally, Social Security does allow five days for mailing of notices etc.

Disability Lawyer Success Rate – Do Lawyers Improve The Chances of Winning Social Security Disability or SSI?
There are reasons why disability lawyers and Social Security representatives have a higher approval rate than disability applicants at their disability hearing.

Disability attorneys, Disability Representatives, and Fees

What Expenses Will A Social Security Attorney Charge In Addition To The Fee?
Incidental expenses could include but are not limited to medical records, vocational experts, phone calls, travel, copying, etc.

Do Social Security Disability and SSI Lawyers Require A Retainer? (Fees and costs)
Disability attorneys or representatives receive one fourth of any back payment of benefits that are due the disability beneficiary or their dependents (spouse or children) up to the maximum fee amount allowable.

Does Social Security pay the Disability Attorney fee?
First, a direct answer to the question: if you are represented and your case is won, in all likelihood, Social Security will deduct whatever fee is owed to your representative out of the back pay amount that you are owed.

How does a Social Security attorney get paid?
Attorneys and non-attorney representatives with fee withholding are paid by Social Security from the disabled individual’s back pay amount.

What is the maximum fee a Social Security Disability attorney can charge?
How is the fee for representation determined? The fee that is charged by a disability representative is based on the amount of back pay that is won by a claimant.

Obtaining a Disability Representative or Attorney

Getting a Social Security Disability Attorney or Representative for your case
Some lawyers handle a wide variety of cases, ranging from medical malpractice to worker’s compensation to long term disability insurance claims. You do not want someone like this handling your claim. Lawyers who divide their practices between so many different areas of law seldom ever become true experts in the area of social security law.

When will a disability lawyer decide to take your case?
Disability lawyers who decline to assist someone based on one of these reasons are becoming more of a minority.

Should you talk to an Attorney before you file a Disability Claim with Social Security?
“Should you think of getting a lawyer before you have been denied for disability, or before you have even filed a disability claim?”. The answer for many people will be: “No, wait until your claim has been denied at least once before getting a lawyer”.

Should you hire a Non-Attorney Disability Representative instead of a Lawyer?
From the standpoint of the social security administration it does not matter if one’s disability representative is a disability attorney or a non-attorney.

Disability Lawyers and Hearings

Disability Lawyers, Medical Records, and Social Security Hearings
Disability lawyers and non-attorney disability representatives do a variety of tasks when they handle a claim, and this includes doing the following to prepare a presentation of the case to a federal judge:

Do I Need a Lawyer for My Social Security Disability Hearing?
Although you are not required to have any sort of legal representation at a disability hearing, statistics show that those who have an attorney are far more likely to be approved for benefits than those who choose to represent themselves.

What if I go to a Social Security hearing without an Attorney or a Disability Representative?
Claimants who appear at hearings unrepresented and win their benefits will most likely do so because the medical evidence supporting their case is fairly obvious.

Choosing a lawyer or representative

Should you ask a Disability Lawyer About Their Win Rate and How Many Cases They get Approved?
If you are speaking with a possible representative to handle your Social Security Disability or SSI disability claim, should you ask about their win rate? You can, but the answer would, most likely be meaningless.

How Do You Switch Your Disability Lawyer?
If you determine that you are going to switch disability lawyers or representatives, you should send a letter to both Social Security and your current disability lawyer stating that you no longer wish for them to represent your disability claim. Also, you should request that your current disability lawyer send a letter of withdrawal from your claim to Social Security.

How Do You Fire a Social Security Disability Lawyer?
You can fire your disability lawyer at any time if you feel your claim is not receiving the attention it deserves, and in some cases this is absolutely the best option.

Should you get a Disability Lawyer before you File for Disability?
The question becomes, should you get a disability lawyer before you even file for disability, or before you receive an answer on your application for disability? And the answer, as we pointed out, is often no. However, there are cases in which early representation is a good option.

Should you get Help from a Disability Attorney before the Claim has been Denied?
Here is a short list of considerations for those who are considering getting representation before their case is denied.

Is there a way to check the Credentials of a Disability Lawyer?
You can inquire as to whether or not a disability lawyer is board-certified; however, this is probably a great waste of time.