Every day we receive questions about applying for Social Security Disability benefits. We thought it might be helpful to address some of the more common questions on our blog. This way, we have the space to give complete answers and share the information with a larger audience. Please leave your comments below and feel free to let us know what questions you’d like us to answer in our next blog post. In the meantime, check out our interactive disability forum and our list of frequently asked questions for more information!
Question: Do I need to hire a lawyer before my initial application for disability benefits or should I wait until I am denied?
Although you are not required to hire an attorney at any point during the Social Security Disability application process, we advise you to retain the services of an attorney prior to submitting your initial application.
Many applicants are under the impression that applying for disability benefits is as simple as filling out a few forms. Unfortunately this isn’t the case. The initial application process requires extensive paperwork, medical records, and personal information. It’s very easy to make mistakes or errors that could compromise your eligibility. In fact, over 60 percent of initial applications are denied.
Hiring an attorney prior to submitting your application will increase your chances of approval and help you avoid the appeals process. A disability attorney or advocate will be familiar with the Social Security review process and the rules that govern eligibility. He or she can assist you in compiling the necessary documentation to prove, beyond a doubt, that you are disabled and eligible for disability benefits.
An attorney can also review the information in your initial application to find any inconsistencies or missing elements that are crucial to proving your disability. The information in your initial application remains a part of your permanent claim for benefits. This means that any errors or omissions may have an affect your claim throughout the entire process.
If your claim has already been denied and you don’t have an attorney, it is important that you hire one to assist you throughout the appeals process.
If you are concerned about the cost of hiring an attorney, you should know that your attorney is not allowed to be paid unless you are awarded benefits. Once you are awarded benefits there are certain rules put in place that limit the amount of money he or she can charge. The SSA states that an attorney cannot charge more than $6,000 or 25% of your back pay. Payment will be taken directly from your award and sent to the attorney by the SSA to avoid any extra charges.
Submitted By: Molly Clarke