The Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) program requires you to complete a detailed application in order to qualify for additional benefits. While this is standard for all government assistance programs, it may be difficult for you to fill out if you have a severe disability or your health is declining.
You may consider hiring an attorney to help with the application process. The attorney may work as the middleman between you and the Social Security Administration (SSA).
Most applications for Social Security Disability benefits are denied. If you want to go through the appeals process, it may be better to have an attorney representing you who is well-versed in Social Security disability cases. A lawyer may be particularly helpful if your case goes before an administrative law judge (ALJ).
Discover more about the advantages and disadvantages of attorneys for SSDI claims below.
What does a Social Security disability lawyer do?
Social Security lawyers provide a variety of services which may increase your chances of receiving SSA benefits. Initially, a lawyer will review your case, regardless of where you are in the process. Then, he or she will discuss your options and next steps.
An attorney may also review the information you have submitted or need to submit, and make sure that your application is as accurate as possible. This step is extremely important, because many cases are denied during the first round due to incomplete or incorrect information.
Social Security Disability lawyers will also review your medical records. Accurate medical records are crucial to your application, as these decide your case. If you have missing medical information, your attorney will work with you and your healthcare providers to obtain the information you need.
If necessary, he or she may contact your regular doctor and other relevant doctors for charts, statements, letters and more.
In addition, the attorney may sort through your healthcare history to determine which aspects of your case are the most significant.
Finally, a Social Security attorney may help you develop your case if it is denied and you want to move forward with the appeals process. Note that your case must be denied for medical reasons in order to move forward with an appeal.
In other words, if you are denied because you did not meet the work requirements or your income was not low enough, you may not be able to appeal your case.
It is true that you may argue your own case, as an attorney cannot promise to win your case for you. However, he or she may improve your odds and present a strong and cohesive argument to an administrative law judge. Survey statistics show that the odds of winning an appeal nearly double if the claimant has a lawyer.
A good Social Security Disability lawyer will have plenty of experience with SSDI and SSI claims. As a result, he or she will understand the laws very well and know what types of cases are more likely to win. The attorney may also know what types of medical information may persuade a judge in your favor.
Therefore, your lawyer may know the best questions to ask your doctor and which medical tests will prove that you need government assistance.
How to Consult with the Social Security Administration (SSA)
A Social Security Disability attorney may stay in contact with your local SSA office during the application process. This may help you keep on top of your application and meet certain deadlines. By consulting with the SSA, your lawyer will take some of the burden off you.
Why Your Claim May Be Denied
Unfortunately, it is more likely that your SSDI application will receive a denial notice rather than an approval notice. This is due in part to the sheer number of applications the SSA receives every year.
According to selected data from the SSA, over 2 million people apply for disability benefits each year. Most of those SSDI applications are rejected for a variety of reasons.
The reasons for denial include:
- You have an impairment that the SSA believes will not last 12 months.
- Your impairment is not severe, as defined by the SSA.
- You may still perform your regular work.
- You may perform another type of work.
- Your impairment is a result of drug or alcohol addiction.
- You have provided insufficient medical evidence to support your claim.
- You have failed to cooperate or follow your treatment plan.
- You decide to withdraw your application, or you return to work before the SSA has decided your case.
How much does a Social Security disability lawyer cost?
Typically, Social Security Disability lawyers only get receive earnings if your case ends favorably. Consequently, SSDI attorneys will work hard to win your case.
A lawyer will also argue for the earliest disability onset date, because you will earn more back pay. Back pay is a term for the SSDI benefits you would have earned if you had received immediate approval for your claim.
If your Social Security Disability attorney wins your claim, he or she will contact the SSA directly for legal fees. The attorney will not usually send you a bill, because his or her fee will come directly from your back pay. It is likely that the SSA will thoroughly review your attorney’s bill before agreeing to pay legal fees.
If you do not receive back pay, your attorney will not be entitled to legal fees.
Advantages and Disadvantages of a Social Security Disability Lawyer
You must consider whether you need an SS disability attorney at the very beginning of your application process, or only during an appeals process.
One of the advantages of filling out your application on your own or with free counseling from a relative is that you may save money. An attorney that only helps you on your application may charge you a fee, since it is not yet a contingency case.
If your application for Social Security Disability Insurance is denied, however, you may enter a legal realm with which you are unfamiliar. A legal expert may guide you through the process so that you know how to argue your case.
If you hire a lawyer and your appeal is approved, you may not receive your full back pay. However, you will not have to pay your lawyer out of your own pocket.If you choose to hire an SSDI attorney, ask him or her about other out-of-pocket costs. Some attorneys may charge you for various expenses, such as postage or fees to access your medical records.