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Should I be denied for Supplemental Security Income BEFORE I hire a lawyer?

Recently on our disability forum we had a disability applicant ask us if they had to be denied Supplemental Security Income (SSI) before they hired a lawyer or if it was better to talk to a lawyer before they applied. This blog will address the pros and cons of hiring a lawyer from the beginning.

When Do I not hire a lawyer?

There are some types of SSI cases which should be approved immediately. If you have one of these cases it is not necessary to hire a lawyer because you should be approved SSI benefits immediately and could end up paying the disability lawyer for doing very little work.

What types of cases are approved without legal help?

First, let’s talk about the basic requirements of SSI. To qualify for SSI you must be aged, disabled or blind and you must be unable to work for at least 12 continuous months. Further, you must have VERY limited income and resources. If you don’t meet these requirements there is no need to apply with or without a lawyer because you will be denied SSI benefits.

Now, assuming you meet the requirements outlined above, you may not need legal assistance if you have a condition which meets or exceeds a listing on the SSA Listing of impairments. This means that you not only have been diagnosed with a condition on the listing, you also have the corresponding symptoms. If your condition meets or exceeds the listing you should be approved immediately.

Other conditions which are immediately approved for SSI benefits are those which are considered terminal and those which are on the Compassionate Allowance List.

When should I hire a lawyer?

Considering that almost 70% of claimants are denied the first time they apply many applicants find it helpful to hire a disability lawyer at the start of their case. Disability lawyers will not generally complete applications for claimants, although some are more heavily involved in the application process than others, they may provide information for the application process which can improve your chances of being approved the first time you apply.

If you are denied at the application level you will have 60 days from the date to file an appeal. The first step in the appeal process is called the reconsideration. Some denials cannot readily be appealed. For instance, if you are working too much, you don’t have enough work credits to be insured for SSDI or you can’t prove your condition will last 12 months you would be denied a second time even if your are severely disabled at this moment.

Cost of hiring a lawyer

Disability lawyers are paid on a contingency fee basis and will only be paid if you win. The good news is they are only allowed to charge you 25% of your back pay up to a maximum of $6,000.  The bad news is that if you hire a lawyer and you are approved immediately you will pay them the same percentage, although the total payment would be less because you would not be receiving as much back pay.
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