According to Nolo.com, the most important reason to hire an attorney to help with your disability case is that your chances of being approved are significantly increased. While it’s certainly true that some people who apply on their own are approved for benefits, statistics show that, everything else being equal, Social Security is more likely to approve an applicant who’s represented by legal counsel than one who isn’t, and for a longer period of back benefits.
From the initial application to the hearing level and beyond, disability attorneys understand how to present a case in the light most favorable to their clients. On the initial application, your lawyer can offer advice on your “alleged onset date” of disability, argue that your condition meets one of the listed impairments in Social Security’s “blue book,” and help you focus on the facts that will be most persuasive to Social Security.
At the reconsideration and hearing levels (the first and second level of appeal in most states), your lawyer can collect and submit relevant medical evidence, obtain an opinion from your doctor, draft a detailed brief to the Administrative Law Judge (ALJ), and prepare you for the judge’s questions at the hearing. Your attorney will also elicit helpful testimony from you at the hearing and may cross-examine the Vocational Expert or Medical Expert to demonstrate that you’re unable to work.
At the next stages of appeal, the Appeals Council and federal court, your lawyer can craft sophisticated legal arguments to show that Social Security wrongly denied your case.
The general rule is “the earlier, the better.” If you’re even considering filing for disability, you should call a disability attorney for a free consultation. Your attorney can help you evaluate the strength of your case and assist you with your initial application. While some people choose to navigate this stage without legal representation, you’re more likely to get approved if you have a lawyer on your side. Another thing to consider: Often a client who is approved at the initial application level only owes a small attorney’s fee because there are few back benefits owed from Social Security. Your disability lawyer will get 25% of your back benefit amount, a fee that is set by Congress and must be approved by Social Security.