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SSDI and SSI Disability - Does the SSA assign me a lawyer?

Every day on our disability forum we get a variety of questions from Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) applicants who are curious about what type of actions the Social Security Administration (SSA) will take to help them get their disability benefits. Recently, a forum user ask, “Does the SSA assign me a lawyer to help me win my SSDI or SSI disability case?” This blog will address what the SSA will and will not do for you with regards to legal services.

How do I get a disability lawyer?

If you have filed your SSDI or SSI application you are most likely now playing the “waiting game.” Although some applicants are approved immediately, most are not. In fact, up to 75% of first time disability applicants are denied the first time they apply and may have to appeal their disability denial.

Whether you have applied, been denied or you are just considering applying it may be a good idea to talk to a disability lawyer. But how do you find one? Does the SSA have a list of approved lawyers you can choose from? Do they assign you a lawyer? These are all good questions. But no, the SSA does not do anything to help you find good legal representation for your disability case. Finding a disability lawyer will be up to you. There are several good ways to get started with the process:

  1. Talk to family members and friends and see if they have a recommendation.

  2. Review online websites and call a few disability lawyers to discuss your case.

After you have chosen a few lawyers you can call them and determine what services they provide. Keep in mind, many disability lawyers handles dozens of cases and many will argue cases throughout the United States. Disability cases are a bit different than other types of legal cases. Your disability lawyer may choose to do most of the work via phone and email. Some lawyers may not meet with you in person until it is time for your disability hearing.  Some claimants like this process; some do not. Many disability lawyers handle their cases this way and are very successful.

How is the SSI or SSDI disability lawyer paid?

So if the Social Security Administration is not going to pay for a disability lawyer and you are out of work with limited funds, what are your options for payment? The good news is the disability lawyer is only paid if you win. Their rate is established by the SSA, and they will be paid 25% of your back pay up to a maximum of $6,000. The disability lawyer is paid their fee before the SSA sends you your funds.

The bad news is that it could be tough to get a lawyer if you do not have case they believe they can win. Disability lawyers, because they are paid on a contingency fee basis, will not take cases they do not have a chance to win.

Why will the SSA not help me more with my disability case?

Claimants often wonder why the SSA is not more helpful when they are applying for SSDI or SSI benefits. For instance, why do they not spend more time with you or meet with you? Why doesn’t the SSA seem to care about your case? The bottom line is the SSA processes millions of applications per year and they are simply overwhelmed.
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