What does a social security disability lawyer do?
When should you talk to a social security disability lawyer?
Is it better to have a lawyer for disability?
In this article, we will break down the notion of “Social Security Disability Lawyer”, so you know all there is to know about it!
We will look at what SSA lawyers do, why you should hire one, when to talk to a social security disability lawyer, how much they charge, how to find the best social security disability lawyer, should you handle your case yourself and more!!
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Table of Contents
What does a Social Security Disability lawyer do
Social security disability lawyers (also known as social security administration attorneys or social security disability appeal attorneys) are specialized in the social security disability process and the relevant laws and statutes governing the process.
The main role of a social security disability attorney is to provide you with legal support and advice with regards to:
- Your disability applications
- Determining your disability alleged onset date
- The assembly of proper factual evidence to support your disability claim
- The compiling of medical records to prove your disability
- Evidence that your disability meets the SSA list of impairments
- Support you at the reconsideration stage in case your application is denied
- Draft briefs to the Administrative Law Judge
- Request on-the-record decision (OTR)
- Prepare you for a disability hearing
- Represent you at a disability hearing
- Call witnesses to court
- Cross-examine medical experts
- Prepare your disability hearing in case you are denied at the reconsideration stage
- Represent you during the appeal hearing
By looking at the above areas of practice of a social security benefits attorney, we can classify their expertise into three categories:
- Legal advice with regards to the laws, statutes, regulations and case laws
- Legal support in setting up your disability application
- Legal proceedings and representation during hearings either before and Administrative Law Judge, Appeal Counsel or Federal court
It takes years to develop skills and competence to handle disability applications, understands how the SSA office processes the applications, and presents a case in the most favourable light.
By specializing in this area of law, social security disability attorneys have the required skills, knowledge and experience in dealing with any aspect of a disability claim.
Why hire an SSD Attorney
Should you consider hiring a social disability lawyer?
When should you talk to a social security disability lawyer?
The main reason why you may consider hiring a local social security disability attorney is to have someone who is experienced in law and in the social security disability process to handle your case.
Let’s face it, you don’t have to hire an attorney.
As a matter of fact, you may be able to handle your social security disability application and legal process.
However, for most people who are not familiar with the ins and outs of an SSD application, reconsideration process and appeal, the cost of hiring an SSD attorney may be worth it.
Hiring a social disability lawyer can provide you with the following benefits:
- Increase your chances of having your social security benefits application approved
- Present the most relevant and appropriate evidence in support of your application or your case
- Present your case knowledgeably and competently during a disability hearing
Top social security disability attorneys can quickly assess the strengths and weaknesses of your case.
As a result, they can immediately direct and guide your application, reconsideration or contestation strategy so you can focus on the key strengths of your case while addressing the weaker points.
You’ll need to bear in mind that social security disability law firms and attorneys will not be able to expedite the processing of your case to get you benefits more quickly.
Generally, it takes several months for a disability case to be resolved.
It may even take a few years if your application is denied and you must request a reconsideration or go to appeal.
Do you need an SSI lawyer
You may need to work with a social security disability law firm or lawyer for various reasons:
- Provide you with a consultation on your legal rights and your case
- Provide you with a consultation for specific legal questions or concerns
- Represent you during your initial application process
- Represent you during the reconsideration stage if your initial application is denied
- Represent you during the appeal stage if your reconsideration request is denied
It’s generally a good idea to minimally consult with an SSD lawyer if you are dealing with a disability application or denial.
In many cases, the better option is to retain the services of social disability lawyers to help you put together your initial application.
Unfortunately, a significant portion of the disability claim applications are rejected.
As a result, to put the chances on your side, right from the beginning, you should consider mandating a top local social security attorney.
Social security disability benefits attorneys can be important allies in helping you gather and collect your medical evidence.
If you are having a hard time getting the evidence that you need, that’s when you need to think about getting a good lawyer to get the documents, records and evidence you need to win.
Can you handle an SSD or SSI case without a lawyer
If you put in time, effort and energy, you can handle your own SSD or SSI case by yourself.
However, you’ll need to be honest with yourself: will you handle your case with care, diligence and precision?
Remember that the disability claimant’s application is rejected at the initial application level and at the reconsideration level in most cases.
This means that you must handle your case (even at the initial application stage) with the mindset that you will need to go the distance.
In other words, your case has to be set up and structured in such a way that if it is denied at the initial level or reconsideration stage, you have all the chances on your side to win the disability appeal hearing.
In essence, to handle your case, you’ll need to be comfortable with a few key aspects of winning a disability case:
- Submitting the best possible application with the best supporting evidence
- If your case is denied, submitting the best possible reconsideration arguments
- If your reconsideration case is denied, going to a disability hearing with the best arguments
A large portion of the SSDI and SSI cases are resolved further to a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ).
If you do your homework and prepare your case adequately, you may be able to get your disability benefits granted to you by the ALJ.
You don’t need to have a lawyer represent you before an ALJ.
In fact, you can handle it yourself or appoint a non-attorney representative to support you (commonly referred to as a disability advocate).
The bottom line is that a disability claimant will be able to handle an SSI disability claim or SSDI application without a lawyer and get their disability payments approved.
However, the odds do improve when you mandate social security and disability attorneys.
The final decision is yours.
You’ll need to carefully assess the importance of the case for you and how important it is for you to get your disability payments.
The more it’s crucial for you to get approved, the more you should consider hiring an attorney.
How to find the best social security disability lawyers
There are many ways you can find a social security disability lawyer to best support you with your legal case or application.
You can consult or use:
- Online legal directories
- The Yellow Pages
- Legal aid clinics
- Social security disability lawyer referral services
- State Bar Associations
- Use disability lawyer locator tools
You need to make sure that the lawyer you find is experienced with:
- Social security administration laws and regulations
- Understands the SSDI and SSI procedures
- Is a lawyer in good standing
- The lawyer is an active member of their state bar
In addition to legal competence and knowledge, you should also find a lawyer that cares, fights aggressively for you and is responsive.
What’s important is for the social security benefits attorneys to fully take charge of your case, give you the right amount of time and dedication.
You must also keep in mind that the SSDI lawyers are paid on contingency, so some lawyers may want to avoid unnecessary time in a case.
You’ll need to find an attorney with the right balance.
On the one hand, you have a case and you want to win and on the other hand you have a lawyer not getting paid unless you win your case.
How much does a social security attorney cost
Hiring a lawyer requires that you weigh the pros and cons of paying for an experienced lawyer in handling your case or finding alternative ways to deal with your legal issues (including representing yourself).
A social security disability lawyer’s fees are regulated by law.
As such, they can charge legal fees representing the lesser of:
- 25% of your disability backpay, or
- A maximum of $6,000
Typically, a social security disability lawyer will not charge any fees when accepting the matter so you will not have to worry about having to pay legal fees upfront.
Although the costs can increase should your case go to appeal, you should expect to pay approximately $6,000 in legal fees payable when you win your case.
In many cases, claimants have the impression that they can’t afford a lawyer for social security.
Perhaps in some cases, it’s true.
However, if you think about it, you’ll be able to afford to have an experienced lawyer handle your case in many cases.
Typically, lawyers who specialize in social security disability can only charge you up to 25% of your social disability backpay and only if you win.
In other words, you won’t have to pay anything if you don’t win your case or get any money.
You should also keep in mind that the maximum amount of fees local social security disability lawyers can charge cannot exceed $6,000.
It may be worth considering having a professional handle your claim so that it’s done right instead of handling it yourself and introducing unwanted mistakes or errors in the file.
Since the disability lawyer works on a contingency fee basis and wants to get paid for the work he or she is doing, they will work hard to help you win.
If you win, they get paid.
If you lose, they don’t get anything.
When should you not hire a lawyer for social security
If you’ve already filed your initial disability application, then there’s really no point in hiring a lawyer to represent you.
At this point, you are already committed to the content of your disability application along with the evidence provided to support your claim.
Although you may consult with local social security disability lawyers for legal advice on what was done or what was included in your application, the lawyer will not be able to do much at this point.
If your application is eventually accepted, fantastic!
If not, that’s when you’ll need to reconsider your strategy and assess if you prefer going through the reconsideration stage with an attorney by your side or by yourself.
You are free to choose the option that is most suitable for you.
However, remember that an attorney’s social security’s compensation is 25% of your backpay should you win your case.
Hiring a denied social security disability lawyer or a social security disability appeal lawyer depending on where you are in your disability case can be a smart choice.
Working with a non-lawyer representative
You have the option of hiring a non-lawyer representative to provide you with support in the context of your SSA disability claim.
Typically, the non-attorney representative is a former disability examiner or SSDI or SSI claim representative who is knowledgeable in the field.
What’s notable is that both the non-lawyer representative and social security attorney charge the same thing.
As a result, you’ll need to decide whether you are better off hiring a legal representative or a non-legal representative.
When dealing with an initial application or reconsideration, an experienced lawyer or non-lawyer advocate can get the job done.
However, as you advance in the contestation stages such as hearing before an Administrative Law Judge or appeal before the Appeal Council, you may want to consider working with a lawyer for social security disability appeals experienced in such technical proceedings.
Preparing a disability case
Preparing a disability case is crucial if you want to win your case and get your disability application approved.
Unfortunately, too many disability cases are not properly set up leading to the rejection of the application.
Needless to say that over two-thirds of all disability cases are rejected.
Generally, the claimant or disability applicant will need to contest the initial denial decision by requesting a reconsideration of that decision.
Even at the reconsideration stage, most of the SSI claimants are denied.
In the end, the final hope to win is to prepare for the disability appeal hearing and win at that stage.
Here are the requirements to have a solid and good disability case:
- Facts are compelling and relevant to support the SSDI or SSI claim
- Proper medical evidence and records are provided in support of the claim
- The application respects the social security rules, regulations and procedures
- The application is complete and does not have any gaps
We hope you enjoyed this article on Social Security Disability Attorney and good luck in finding the best social security lawyer for your case!