What Does a Social Security Disability Lawyer Do?
Because filing for disability can be so difficult, social security disability lawyers are generally experts in this field. Your disability attorney will help you file an initial claim, appeal a rejected claim, file for reconsideration, or file a lawsuit against your insurance company.
When you first hire a social security disability attorney, they will conduct a thorough review of your situation and they will take charge of gathering the necessary evidence to support your claim. Disability lawyers know what type of evidence is needed and what exactly the SSA is looking for - it’s a lack of understanding at this stage that causes more than half of non-attorney-assisted claims to be denied.
Should your claim be denied, a good social security disability attorney will also prepare your appeal and represent you during the hearing. As a final stage in the process, should your case proceed to a civil trial, you will need a highly skilled disability lawyer to represent and protect your interests.
How Much Does It Cost to Hire a Social Security Disability Attorney?
When you can’t work and are struggling financially, you may think that you can’t afford to hire a disability lawyer. However, the good news is that social security disability attorneys work on a contingency fee basis. This means that you pay nothing upfront - instead, your lawyer will take a portion of the back pay you receive
All fee agreements must be approved by the SSA and fees are typically capped at the lower of 25% of your back pay or $6000. Note that this is the maximum - the majority of social security disability cases cost significantly less than the maximum.
There may however be some other costs associated with your claim, such as fees charged for accessing medical records. A good social security disability attorney will ensure that you are aware of all fees and payment requirements before they proceed with your case.
Tips for Hiring a Disability Lawyer
There are thousands of social security disability law firms in the United States.
Internet searches will find you plenty of disability attorneys, but this random approach will tell you very little about the quality of those attorneys.
A better option is to use a specialized legal directory. Our State Bar Attorneys Directory lists hundreds of specialist social security lawyers - and it’s easy to narrow down your search for disability attorneys in your state.
You can also read reviews right here in the Directory, to get a feel for which are the most trusted disability law attorneys near you.
Once you have a short list, consider each law firm’s experience in your type of disability. The SSA has a defined set of guidelines for each type of disability, from cancer or stroke to fibromyalgia or mental health conditions. Choosing an attorney with extensive experience of your own disability will help to ensure that they use the correct terminology, avoiding delays and denials.
Most social security law firms offer a free initial consultation - attend this with all the details of your claim to hand and be ready to ask questions about the attorney’s fees and about how you will be kept informed of your claim’s progress.
It’s advisable to have a free consultation with several social security disability lawyers near you before choosing the one who feels like the best fit for your circumstances.
FAQ On Hiring a Social Security Disability Attorney
1 - Do I need a disability attorney? Can’t I file my claim myself?
You certainly can file for disability yourself. However, this is a notoriously difficult area of law - and with over 50% of claims denied in the first instance, hiring a good social security attorney is likely to save you time, effort, and stress.
2 - How long will my social security claim take? Is it quicker if I hire a disability attorney?
An initial social security claim can take up to three months to be processed. If approved, claimants must then wait five months from the date of the onset of the disability before receiving their first payment.
There is no magic way in which a social security disability attorney can bypass this lengthy process - but a skilled disability lawyer can speed things up slightly at certain points - for example by ensuring that all of the evidence needed is present at the right time, or by writing a dire need letter that could get your hearing date scheduled earlier.
3 - Should I hire a disability attorney before I make the initial claim?
You can do that, although the majority of people only hire a social security disability attorney once their claim has been denied.
Whatever stage your application is at, the government’s own figures suggest that a lawyer-assisted claim is considerably more likely to succeed.