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Should I Appeal my Social Security Disability Denial in Illinois, or get a Lawyer First?

Opinions vary widely on these issues. I've heard, and read, plenty of people make the argument that representation is unnecessary. However, if I had to file for disability, knowing what I know about the disability system, as a former disability examiner and having worked in representation, I would not represent myself on a claim.

And, if I had a friend or relative who was filing for disability in Illinois, I would advise them to get representation immediately after being denied on a claim, and certainly if the denial occurred at the reconsideration appeal level (because the next step is to request a disability hearing and at a hearing you absolutely want representation).

Further, and this is just my own preference, I would advise anyone who was denied on a reconsideration to get representation. Why? Because the odds of winning at recon are fairly limited.

Here's one mistake that I've seen time and time again. A claimant who files for disability benefits with the social security administration gets denied and decides to find a disability representative (either a lawyer or a non-attorney claimant's representative). Weeks later, right as the deadline to appeal very closely approaches, they finally sign on with a representative (literally, by signing a fee agreement and a 1696--SSA form 1696--to designate a representative), fully expecting that the representative should handle everything without exception.

Where's the mistake in this scenario? Actually, there's several. First of all, if you need to appeal, you should always do so immediately to avoid adding more total processing time to your case. In other words, just because SSA gives you two months to appeal, that doesn't mean you should actually consume that length of time as doing so serves no purpose and is probably financially damaging to you.

Secondly, if you plan to get representation following a disability denial, you should do so immediately. Why? Because your prospective representative, whoever that may be, will not be able to submit an appeal on your behalf without having signed paperwork from you. And by that, I mean the aforementioned appointment of representative form, a signed fee agreement, as well as signed medical releases (typically SSA-827 releases that will be used by social security and the representative's own in-house release forms).

If you contact your prospective rep too late, it may be the case that the representative may be forced to advise you to file your appeal on your own...simply because they don't have a signed 1696 and fee agreement from you and the deadline to appeal is dangerously close.

So, should you get you appeal your SSD denial, or get a lawyer first? Well, if you plan to get a representative, do this first and do it immediately following a denial so the representative can file the appeal for you. However, if for some reason you are having trouble either getting a representative, or deciding on which one to use, file your appeal yourself to avoid wasting valuable time, and then get representation.


1. How long does it take to get a disability hearing scheduled?
2. How long does it take to get a disability hearing?
3. How long does it take to get a decision after a disability hearing?
4. How to get a disability hearing scheduled faster?
5. Getting a faster disability hearing scheduled
6. Can an attorney get you a faster disability hearing?
7. Disability hearing decision timeframe
8. ALJ disability hearing decisions
9. What to expect at a disability hearing
10. What happens when you go to a disability hearing?
11. After a disability hearing, what happens?

  • What medical conditions will get you approved for disability?

  • What kind of Mental Problems Qualify for Disability?

  • Which conditions will social security recognize as a disability?

  • Tips for getting Social Security Disability or SSI benefits approved

  • SSDRC Homepage:

    Social Security Disability and SSI Resource Center

    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

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    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

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    The SSD SSI Decision Process and what gets taken into consideration

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    Social Security Disability, SSI Terms and Definitions

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    Applying for Disability in North Carolina

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    Applying for disability in Illinois

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    Filing for disability in Illinois, when to file

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    Are you automatically denied for SSDI or SSI in Illinois when you first apply?

    Filing Illinois request for reconsideration after denied

    Will I Qualify For Disability Benefits in Illinois?

    Options after Social Security Disability is Denied in Illinois

    Hiring a Qualified Disability Lawyer in Illinois

    Do you need a lawyer for a Disability Claim in Illinois?

    Disability attorneys, lawyers in Illinois

    Choosing a Disability Attorney in Illinois

    What will an Illinois disability attorney do?

    Will hiring a disability attorney in Illinois get me a disability award?

    Social Security Disability Representatives and help in Illinois

    Social Security Claims and Disability Lawyers in Illinois

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    Which disability appeal to file in Illinois

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    Getting a Disability Appeal on time in Illinois

    Eligibility, approvals, and qualifications in Illinois

    How to Qualify for Social Security Disability or SSI in Illinois

    Can a Specific Medical Problem get you Approved for Disability in Illinois?

    Eligibility and Qualifications for Disability in Illinois

    Can you get disability approved in Illinois at the reconsideration level?

    Miscellaneous questions about SSD SSI in Illinois

    Can you get disability in Illinois on your first try?

    How many Social Security Disability and SSI cases get denied in Illinois?

    Disability denial in Illinois, when to get a lawyer

    Social Security Disability Waiting period in Illinois

    Will I lose my SSDI SSI disability benefits in Illinois when my case is reviewed?

    Illinois disability hearings

    How to Prepare for a Disability Hearing in Illinois

    Odds of disability approval in Illinois better at a hearing vs reconsideration

    Illinois disability attorney representation after being denied

    Illinois mental disability

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    Mental testing for an SSDI or SSI disability claim in Illinois

    Filing for Disability with depression in Illinois

    Illinois disability decisions

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    How long does it take to get a disability decision in Illinois?

    What is the Social Security Disability decision making process in Illinois?

    Illinois disability, working and work credits

    Work credits in Illinois to be covered for Social Security disability

    How to get your disability status in Illinois

    If you get and receive disability benefits in Illinois, can you work?

    Can you apply for social security disability or SSI in Illinois if you are working?

    Illinois disability denials

    Why is Social Security Disability and SSI Denied in Illinois?

    Denied on a Disability Reconsideration in Illinois

    Illinois Disability Claim was Denied, Should I Reapply?

    Denied the second time for Social Security Disability in Illinois