Do I Need to Hire a Lawyer Before Submitting My Application?

Submitted by Shane on

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.

Do You Need a Lawyer to File For Social Security Disability Benefits?

Applying for social security disability benefits can be frustrating and challenging. Many disability benefits applications are rejected by the Social Security Administration (SSA) initially and applicants then may have to appeal the decision.

There is no legal reason why you should hire a lawyer. It is not compulsory. However, many disability benefits applicants find that the experience and knowledge that a disability lawyer has can help them through the benefits application process.

Disability benefit lawyers can help at any stage of an application, but if your application has been denied, then you will find that it would be more difficult to win an appeal without the help of a lawyer. Generally, if you are going to hire a lawyer, the sooner you do so the better. This is because the lawyer has helped many disability applications before and understands the criteria established by the SSA to determine whether an application should be approved.

Many applications are denied because there is insufficient evidence to support the person’s claim that they have a serious disability that prevents them from working for at least the next 12 months. The disability lawyer can help by examining what documentation you have available before the application is filed with the SSA and give an opinion about the likelihood that the application has a good chance of acceptance or not.

There should be no financial constraint on hiring a disability lawyer as their legal fees cannot be charged in advance. They are deducted as a percentage of the back pay received from the SSA only after an application has finally been approved.

What to Know About the Initial Application Process

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, meeting Blue Book criteria, 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.

Should I Get A Lawyer Before Applying For Disability?

If you are unable to work and earn a living because of a medical condition, you will want to apply for disability benefits. You should contact a disability attorney before applying disability.

You can retain an attorney at any time during the claims process, but usually, the earlier you retain a disability attorney, the better off your claim will be. Often, a disability lawyer will help you get your claim approved much more quickly.

If you enlist the help of a disability lawyer before you file your claim for benefits, the lawyer can help you evaluate the strength of your claim before you apply. Your disability attorney can help you gather the supporting evidence and medical documentation that your claim needs to be successful. If you have already applied and are denied disability, you should still consider enlisting the help of a lawyer for Social Security disability.

The Social Security Administration (SSA) has released reports that indicate that claimants with legal representation are much more likely to be awarded disability benefits. A lawyer will help you through the process and will file all the necessary paperwork your claim needs if your claim is denied, and you must appeal the decision.

You want to proceed with your claim before time runs out, so you do not have to start the claims process from the beginning again.

Disability attorneys will not require payment until your claim has been approved, and at that time, they will receive a percentage of your backpay as allowed by the SSA and federal law. Ask for a free consultation with a disability attorney to help ensure your claim is on track.


Benefits of Working with a Lawyer

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 disability 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.

Do I Need to Hire a Lawyer Before Submitting My Application?

Popular Questions About Hiring a Disability Lawyer

Why should I have a lawyer for my hearing?

The Social Security Act, as well the all the various factors that go into determining can be quite in depth and complex. Having a lawyer working on your behalf will be a big help at your hearing as opposed of you doing it on your own.

Does having a lawyer help speed up the process?

Having a lawyer working on your behalf depending on the situation may be able to help expedite your application and may be able to help make the entire process go faster.

Can a disability lawyer help get my paperwork in order?

Yes, a disability lawyer can make sure all of your paperwork and medical records are up to date and in order with your initial application. Your lawyer may also help get a letter of recommendation from your doctor, which can go a long way in the application process.

How is a Social Security Lawyer Paid?

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. 

To find out how much money you could receive in disability benefits, use our Social Security Benefits Calculator

Additional Resources

Blog comments

Marion (not verified)

Hi, I have had health issues

Hi, I have had health issues for years now and my ex and i divorced in march 2018. I have been unable to work and am going to apply for ss disability . We were married for more than 10 years and also have an adult disabled child together. Can i recieve ss disability under his ss. ?

Wed, 11/07/2018 - 14:01 Permalink

In reply to by Marion (not verified)

Hi Marion,

Hi Marion,

Since you were married for over 10 years, you could be able to qualify for auxiliary benefits under your spouse's Social Security.

Thu, 11/08/2018 - 17:28 Permalink
Anonymous (not verified)

Hey i have been battling

Hey i have been battling severe knee pain for a yr an a half now and recently diagnosed with CRPS. Just recently( 2mths)returned to work with very limited restrictions after a 7 month medical leave of absence but physically i still cant make it 8 hrs a day. Would i qualify?

Thu, 12/20/2018 - 01:46 Permalink

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Hi There,

Hi There,

If you've worked, you would have to apply for SSDI. The main issue with your qualifying would be that you have returned to work. To qualify medically with CRPS, you'll need to show you've had the condition for over a year and it is expected to last at least another year.

Thu, 12/20/2018 - 09:56 Permalink
Tena (not verified)

Hey i have been battling

Hey i have been battling severe knee pain for a yr an a half now and recently diagnosed with CRPS. Just recently( 2mths)returned to work with very limited restrictions after a 7 month medical leave of absence but physically i still cant make it 8 hrs a day. Would i qualify?

Thu, 12/20/2018 - 05:42 Permalink

In reply to by Tena (not verified)

Hi Tena,

Hi Tena,

That would be tough because it seems like you can still work. You can try to fill out an application on the SSA's website.

Thu, 12/20/2018 - 15:59 Permalink
Stephen (not verified)

My brother in law has had a

My brother in law has had a stroke. How do I start the process of filing of SSI and SSDI for him since he is unable to do it for himself?

Mon, 07/29/2019 - 16:26 Permalink

In reply to by Stephen (not verified)

Hi Stephen,

Hi Stephen,

You can begin the application online or at your local Social Security office (make an appointment first).

Mon, 07/29/2019 - 16:50 Permalink

In reply to by Dee (not verified)

We always recommend hiring an

We always recommend hiring an attorney as it can be a difficult process and having an attorney on your side increases your chance of success.

Fri, 11/08/2019 - 15:59 Permalink
Michael Gatter (not verified)

I have been denied at the

I have been denied at the state or local level for SSDI benefits by a judge twice. I am a 37 y/o 93% disabled veteran and I cannot find an attorney to represent me at the federal level. I got a letter stating that the administrative Law Judges decision is the final decision of the Commissioner of SS in my case and if I want to appeal again I have to ask for court review of the Administrative Law Judges decision by filing a civil action.
My issue is I CANNOT find an attorney that will fight the SSA on a civil/federal level. Any advice you may have would be certainly appreciated! Thank You Michael Gatter

Tue, 08/27/2019 - 14:32 Permalink
ernesto (not verified)

do i qualify for heart valve

do i qualify for heart valve replacement?

Wed, 10/09/2019 - 13:01 Permalink

In reply to by ernesto (not verified)

Hi Ernesto,

Hi Ernesto,

Potentially! I would look over the Blue Book with your doctor to see if the condition that caused your need for a heart valve replacement qualifies. You'll then need to make sure you meet it's listing requirements as well as technical requirements. Best of luck!

Wed, 10/09/2019 - 16:18 Permalink
Shayanna C. (not verified)

Hey I fell in the freezer at

Hey I fell in the freezer at work and injured my lower back and shoulder. I had an MRI done and it shows I have multilevel degenerative changes in my spine and partially thickness tear rotator cuff. I can't no longer work due to my injury I can't stand or sit for long periods of time also having weakness in my left leg a lot lately. Do you think I can receive SSDI?

Tue, 10/29/2019 - 12:11 Permalink
Karen Forrester (not verified)

Can I get Social Security

Can I get Social Security Disability if I get diagnosed with Lupus and can not work?

Wed, 05/20/2020 - 18:34 Permalink

In reply to by Karen Forrester (not verified)

Hi Karen,

Hi Karen,

You may qualify! I would go over the Blue Book with your doctor to see you meet a listing. You'll also either need enough work credits if applying for SSDI or be within specific income limits if you're applying for SSI.

Fri, 05/22/2020 - 11:58 Permalink
The Melodious One (not verified)

I have been diagnosed with

I have been diagnosed with Ulcertive Colitis which is an autoimmune disease of the colon which causees frequent trips to the bathroom which limits my ability to work efficiently. Am I eligible for disability benefits, and how long does it take to apply and start receiving payments?

Fri, 08/07/2020 - 13:49 Permalink

In reply to by The Melodious One (not verified)



You may be eligible for benefits. You will need to meet the Blue Book listing for IBD as well as have enough work credits or be within the income limits. The process for applying for disability varies on a case by case basis. It may take a few months to hear back from the SSA.

Fri, 08/07/2020 - 14:15 Permalink

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