Wondering "do I need an SSDI lawyer?" The short answer is: No, you do not *need* a social security disability lawyer, but it may still be helpful to hire one.
Do you need a lawyer to apply for disability? The short answer is: No, you do not need an SSDI lawyer, but it may still be helpful to hire one.
Anyone can apply for Social Security Disability Insurance benefits (or SSDI benefits) on their own through one of three methods:
And if your application is successful, the benefit of applying on your own is simple - it saves you money because no legal fees will be deducted from your award.
But navigating the application process can be overwhelming and the vast majority of initial applications are rejected. Even after all levels of appeal, the acceptance rate has averaged just 34% over time.
So while it is true that you do not need a lawyer to get Social Security disability benefits, it can be very helpful to hire an SSDI lawyer to help guide you through the process. And your chances of winning disability with a lawyer are better than your chances without one.
The Social Security Disability benefits application process can be confusing and overwhelming. The application form alone is over seven pages long, and many SSDI applications are rejected due to incomplete forms or information.
A disability attorney can help you prepare your initial application, including gathering any necessary paperwork (such as medical records) and ensuring that all forms are filled out correctly.
If your initial disability benefits application is rejected, as most are, there are four different levels of appeal:
An SSDI lawyer can guide you through the process and increase your chances of success at each stage of the process. On your initial application, they can help ensure that you include all the necessary information and that you are on track to meet all the technical requirements. (For instance, that your disability is either a disability listed by the Social Security Administration (SSA) or equivalent to such a disability).
At the various appeals stages, a social security disability lawyer can craft arguments and help you gather the medical evidence necessary to overturn the initial decision and convince the respective decision-makers that you are entitled to SSDI benefits.
(And note that applying for disability benefits is a different process from applying for Supplemental Security Income (SSI), as SSDI and SSI are two different Social Security benefits).
Some people wonder, "should I get a lawyer before applying for disability?" Some people may be inclined to hold off on hiring an SSDI lawyer during the initial application process. As noted above, if you are able to submit a successful disability benefits application on your own, this can save you money in legal fees.
But most Social Security Disability claims are not successful, and the appeals process can span months or even years. That means that the initial rejection could mean going years without the disability benefits you need, even if you eventually prevail and secure the benefits you are entitled to.
If you are wondering, "do I need a lawyer to apply for disability", then you are probably also wondering how much a lawyer charges for social security disability cases. The good news is that most SSDI lawyers work on a contingency basis, meaning they only get paid if they win your case.
Additionally, federal law places a limit on how much a Social Security disability attorney can charge for helping with your disability claim. (Social Security disability attorneys can typically only charge 25% of your SSDI backpay up to a maximum of $6,000, and SSDI attorney fees are often less than this $6,000 maximum).
Applicants should therefore consider consulting a lawyer even for the initial application process since there is no upfront legal cost and doing so can increase the chances of SSA approval, which means you get awarded disability benefits faster.
If you do not consult a lawyer and your application is unsuccessful, you are not alone - most applications are rejected. And the reality is that the appeals process can be even more complicated than the initial application, so it is not too late to benefit from having a lawyer on your side.
A Social Security disability attorney can help position your case for the best chance of success, and also help you navigate the deadlines and more technical requirements associated with an appeal. For instance, the SSA allows anyone to appeal their initial decision, but you must request an appeal in writing within sixty days of receiving the SSA’s decision.
As noted, anyone can apply for Social Security Disability benefits on their own, either online, by phone, or at their local SSA office. If you file for SSDI without a lawyer, two things that will be critical for a successful application are attention to detail and keeping track of filing deadlines.
Many of the applications that get rejected are due to incomplete forms or information. And if your application is rejected, you only have 60 days to file for reconsideration (or the subsequent levels of appeal).
But remember, the acceptance rate has averaged approximately 34% over time, even after all levels of appeal. So while it is possible to go it alone, it often makes sense to consult with a Social Security Disability lawyer.
As mentioned, most disability applications are unsuccessful and the acceptance rate has only averaged 34%, even after all levels of appeal.
Given that reality, it is definitely helpful to have an experienced lawyer on your side, and your chances of winning disability with a lawyer will generally be better than if you go without a lawyer.
That said, the biggest determining factor in whether your disability application is approved is going to be your particular circumstances, including the details surrounding your disability and the strength of your evidence to demonstrate your eligibility (e.g. medical records, other medical evidence, etc.).
So, generally speaking, hiring a lawyer will probably improve your chances of winning disability, but many other factors will ultimately affect how like you are to be awarded disability benefits.
So, do you need a lawyer to apply for disability? Let's recap.
In sum, you do not need an SSDI attorney in order to apply for disability benefits. But it may still be helpful to hire one, and your chances of winning disability with a lawyer will be better than your chances of getting benefits without one.
Submitting an SSDI application on your own could save you money in legal fees, but the disability claims process can be lengthy and complicated.
And since most initial applications are rejected, you might wait months or even years for your SSDI benefits, even if your application is eventually successful.
Having someone guide you through the process and help to strategically position your case could increase your overall chances of success and help get you your benefits faster. Because SSDI lawyers generally operate on a contingency basis, it may be worth reaching out for a free consultation regardless of what stage in the process you find yourself.