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Disability lawyer can they do anything I cannot do myself?

Recently on our disability forum a user asked, “I have a disability hearing coming up in a few months and I have been told I need to hire a disability lawyer. What I am wondering, however, is whether or not the lawyer will really do anything that I cannot do myself? Do I really even need legal help?”


What a lawyer will do for your SSDI case

Disability lawyers evaluate medical evidence, determine whether or not you have sufficient medical evidence to win your case, and present your case before the administrative law judge. They are paid professionals, and they do this for a living.

What does this mean? It means they have probably handled dozens of cases just like yours. They are familiar with most of the judges in a particular hearing office and understand what it takes to convince the administrative law judge you are disabled.

They also understand the arguments they must make to discredit the vocational expert’s testimony that you can perform work.

Doing it on your own without a disability lawyer

Now, let’s consider the question: “Can you do what they do all on your own?” Hmm…let’s see. It’s kind of like asking whether or not you can cut your own hair. Yes, everyone can cut their own hair. Can you cut it as well as a professional hairstylist? No, not unless you understand the techniques for cutting hair and have practiced, probably quite a bit.

So can you argue your case in front of the judge? Absolutely, but do you really understand what you need to prove? Do you understand how the administrative law judge will make a disability determination? Do you have the medical evidence to support your claim? Do you know how to argue that you cannot work your current job or retrain for new work?

Do you see where I am going with this? Unfortunately, most claimants are too sick, too tired, too frustrated, or too uninformed to figure out the disability appeals process and make a strong case. These claimants generally increase their chances of winning benefits by hiring a lawyer.

Disability lawyer’s short-comings

If you do decide to hire a lawyer there is good news: you will only pay your disability lawyer if you win your case. The bad news is that if you have a substantial back payment coming you could pay your disability lawyer as much as $6,000.

Another issue is how much work your lawyer will really do for your case. Unfortunately, some disability lawyers have so many claimants they may not really start to review your case, including medical records, until a day or two before your hearing. Some lawyers may not review it until the morning of the hearing.

Good disability lawyers, however, should have office staff members who have reviewed your medical records and determined whether you need additional information to prove your case. At the very least they should have someone in their office that is familiar with your case and is able to answer your questions prior to the hearing, especially if the attorney does not have time to do this himself.

So as with any profession, there are disability lawyers who are worth the money and those who are not.

Bottom line:

Whether or not you have the capability to perform all the necessary tasks to win your case will depend on several factors, including whether or not you have the legal experience necessary to prove to the judge your are disabled. If you do- go for it. But if not, talk to a disability lawyer.

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