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SSA- Do disability lawyers help everyone?

If you have been fighting to win Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income Benefits (SSI) and you have been denied multiple times you might want to hire a disability lawyer. Some claimants have tried to contact multiple disability lawyers but find that no one will help them with their case and they may be wondering why, which leads to the question, “Do disability lawyers help everyone?”

How does a disability lawyer get paid?

At the heart of why a disability lawyer may or may not take your case is whether they think they can win. Unlike some types of lawyers who work on a “retainer,” disability lawyers work on a contingency fee basis. This means that they will only get paid if you win your case.

How much will they be paid for a successful case? If they win they will receive 25% of your back pay up to a maximum of $6,000. This amount established by the SSA. This money is paid directly by the SSA (out of your back pay balance) before they send to you your disability back pay check.

What SSDI and SSI claimants will disability lawyers help?

Based on their payment structure a disability lawyer has an incentive to find good cases and help claimants who have done the right things to ensure they have a strong case. The disability lawyer will not take a case they know they cannot win.

So what requirements will the disability lawyer evaluate?

  1. Does the claimant have a severe, medically determinable impairment?

  2. Does the claimant have a condition which will last at least 12 continuous months?

  3. Is the claimant working and performing “substantial gainful activity”?

  4. Is the claimant getting medical care for their condition?

  5. Does the claimant meet the nonmedical requirements for SSI or SSDI benefits?

Basically, the disability lawyer will use the same criteria that the SSA uses in their sequential evaluation process to evaluate if the claimant has a good case. If the claimant has not worked and earned enough work credits for SSDI or if they are applying for SSI and their resources and income are too high, the disability lawyer knows that it does not matter how severely they are disabled, they cannot win benefits and they will not help the claimant. Claimants who are working and making too much money will also be automatically denied so the disability lawyer will also refuse to take their SSI or SSDI cases.

Why do some lawyers help some claimants and other will not?

One thing I would suggest to a claimant who is seeking legal help is to call several disability lawyers. Assuming you meet the nonmedical requirements (not working, you have sufficient work credits (SSDI only), your condition will last 12 months, etc.) and the disability lawyer does not want to take your case you may be able to find another disability lawyer who will.

Disability lawyers do not all have the same philosophy. Some disability lawyers “cast a wider net” meaning that they take a lot of cases knowing that some cases will be more difficult to win. Other disability lawyers may only take cases that have a high probability of success. Ideas vary and it may simply depend on the resources available at the disability office to take a larger number of cases.
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