Applying for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits can be a daunting experience. If you’re considering whether or not to hire a Social Security Disability Insurance attorney, it is important to know that your chances of being approved significantly increase when you work with a legal professional.
A good attorney can help accelerate your claim, which saves you time and money. Choosing a local disability attorney who is eager to help you, practices clear communication, and exercises compassion is likely to help you receive the benefits you need much faster.
Do you need an attorney to apply for social security disability benefits?
Although you don’t necessarily need an attorney to apply for social security disability benefits, we strongly advise that you reach out to a professional before even submitting your application. Applying for benefits is not a quick or straightforward process. You must fill out extensive amounts of paperwork, keep all your medical records on hand, and obtain access to sensitive personal information to develop a compelling case. Mistakes are extremely common when filling out the application, and more than half of initial applicants are denied.
By hiring an attorney to help, you can ensure that all of your medical records and paperwork are organized and up to date before you file. A disability attorney can also speak with your doctor to get a letter of recommendation, which can be an incredibly useful resource. Hiring a legal professional can ultimately accelerate the process of getting your benefits and improve your chances of getting the assistance you need.
How a social security disability attorney can help
When initially applying for your SSDI benefits, your social security disability attorney can help you decipher what your alleged onset date (AOD) is, which determines when you were first eligible for benefits. This date can be claimed as far back as 12 months before the date of your application.
Your attorney can also help you argue that your medical condition meets the official list of conditions covered by the Social Security Administration (SSA), called the Listing of Impairments. At the first level of appeal (the reconsideration review) and second level of appeal (the hearing), your lawyer can collect and present pertinent medical records and evidence, interview your doctors, and generally support you during all steps in the legal process. Once in court, your social security disability attorney can assist you by successfully presenting your testimony to the judge and cross-examining experts to better support your case.
Hiring a social security attorney before submitting your application can increase your chances of being approved and, in turn, help you steer clear of a long and drawn-out appeal process. If you’ve already sent in your application and you were denied, you will definitely want an attorney’s help with your next attempt. In addition to helping you improve your application, your legal professional can ask the judge for an “on-the-recond” (OTR) decision, which allows you to receive your benefits without ever having a hearing in court.
What happens during the SSDI application process?
The first step when filing for your SSDI is to fill out the initial application. With the help of an attorney, you can be sure that your information is valid and that there are no minor mistakes that could possibly get your case denied. If you’re accepted, you can expect to start receiving your benefits in the first couple of months post-approval. If you’re denied, you’ll begin the extensive appeal process.
Before you can request a court hearing, you’ll have to get a reconsideration review with a disability examiner who will explore whether your initial denial can be reversed. This review, however, often also results in a denial, which only adds to your wait time. From here, you’ll want to schedule a court hearing to present your case to a disability judge with your attorney.
How long does it take to get social security disability benefits with a lawyer?
The path to benefits is a lengthy one. After your initial application is sent to the Social Security Administration, government data suggests that the average wait time to receive a decision is about three and a half months. If you’re denied and continue onto your reconsideration review, you can expect to wait about another three months for that decision. If your reconsideration is denied and you want to schedule a hearing, you will likely wait between one and two years before you can present your case to a judge.
Once you do get your hearing, you’ll have to wait on the judge’s decision, which may be the quickest part of the whole process. Most people hear back from the court within two months of their hearing. The entire process from start to finish averages about two to three years total, with some applicants waiting even more than three years to get their results.
How much does a social security disability attorney cost?
In most cases, you will not need to pay your social security attorney unless you are awarded your benefits. In order to charge you after you’ve won your case, your representation first needs to file a fee agreement with the SSA. If an attorney skips this step or charges more than they were approved for, they can be banned from representing any other clients in front of the Administration.
The written fee agreement must be signed by both you and your disability attorney and be approved before the court makes a decision on your claim. Then, the SSA will send you an approval of the agreement in writing, deciphering how much your attorney can charge you. This fee can’t be more than 25 percent of past-due benefits or more than $6000, whichever is less.
Your SSDI attorney can give the SSA a fee petition after filing your claim or claims. This request lays out precisely what services your representation provided you, as well as how much time it took to complete each task. If you review this petition and disagree with any of the information on the document, you can contact Social Security within the first 20 days for reconsideration. They will then take a look at the petition and respond with their new approved fee. If you once again disagree, you have 30 days to respond with your argument.
How to find a social security disability attorney who will fight for you
It is of utmost importance to find a local disability attorney that you trust and respect. You’ll want to make sure you feel that there is an open line of communication that can be reached at any point during your process. Your SSDI attorney’s genuine and caring attitude can be just as important as their experience and knowledge.
Before choosing to hire a social security disability attorney, you may want to ask yourself a few questions to make sure they’re the right professional to help with you and your case:
- What level of involvement do you expect from your attorney?
- How does the attorney charge for their services?
- How much prior experience does your potential attorney have with SSD claims?
- Will your attorney take your case to court if you’re denied?
- Does your attorney have experience and prior knowledge of how to handle your specific medical conditions?
- How will you and your attorney prepare for your hearing?
Applying for SSDI benefits with an excellent legal professional can make all the difference. With legal help, you can vastly improve your chances of winning your case in a timely manner and getting the benefits you need. We encourage you to begin the process of finding the right social security disability attorney today.