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Filing SSDI application do I need lawyer?

If you are debating whether or not to hire a disability lawyer it is important to understand not only the costs of hiring an attorney, but what they will be able to do for your case. Although a disability lawyer cannot help expedite your SSDI application through the Social Security Disability process, they can give you a greater chance at winning at every stage in the process. Recently on our disability forum a user asked, “I have decided to file my SSDI application but want to know if I really need a lawyer now or should I wait to hire one if I am denied benefits?”


Benefits of hiring a lawyer prior to filing your SSDI application

Many disability lawyers will not file the SSDI application for you. In fact, it is generally up to you to contact the SSA and the complete the process. A disability lawyer can, however, offer you legal advice about how to improve your chances of winning benefits.

For instance, disability lawyers understand how the SSA will make their disability determination and can insure you include medical evidence and information to prove you can no longer work, your condition will last 12 continuous months, your condition meets or equals a listing in the SSA Listing of Impairments, or you lack the residual functional capacity to perform or retrain for any type of new work.

The good news is a disability lawyer works on a contingency fee basis, and they are only paid if you win. They are also paid a percentage of your back pay. This means that if you are approved immediately for benefits you may not owe them much money.

When should I NOT hire a lawyer for your SSDI application?

Not all claimants will need to hire a lawyer before or after they submit a SSDI application. If you have a condition and corresponding symptoms which definitely meet or equal a listing or a condition on the Compassionate Allowance list, assuming you meet all of the nonmedical requirements for SSDI, you will not need legal help.

Claimants whose condition does not meet a listing but who have time to study and review the process may also be able to fight for benefits on their own. Unfortunately, due to the complexity of the process, most claimants will not have the fortitude to do all of the work on their own.

Do I need to hire a lawyer if SSDI application is denied?

Claimants who hire disability lawyers generally do so right after they have been denied SSDI benefits the first time. If your SSDI application is denied and you have the right to appeal the denial, you have 60 days to file your SSDI appeal.

It is at this step that the lawyer can do the most good for you. They can collect and submit all necessary medical evidence to strengthen your SSDI application, get information about your residual functional capacity to work from your doctor, and write a detailed brief to the Administrative Law Judge (ALJ). The attorney will also appear at the hearing with you to answer the judge's questions and cross-examine the Vocational Expert or Medical Expert.

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