Getting a lawyer for social security
Many, if not most, applicants for social security disability or SSI benefits consider (at some point in the process) whether or not they should get a lawyer to assist them with their claim. Here are answers to several commonly asked questions regarding this:
1. How much will it cost to hire a lawyer for social security disability or SSI? Upfront, it won't cost you anything. Disability lawyers are paid a fee that is equivalent to 1/4 of whatever backpay a disability claimant is eligible to receive. However, this is only paid if, and after, a case has been won. In other words, if the case is lost, no fee is paid, and certainly nothing is paid upfront.
2. When should you get a lawyer for social security disability or SSI? This will generally depend on the individual. Some people would advise a claimant to get a lawyer only after a notice of denial has been sent. However, there are some individuals for whom the process of applying is stressful enough that representation from the very beginning may be a good idea. For others, waiting until a denial notice has been sent may be a good idea as well. However, a claimant who wishes consultation on a claim can always contact a lawyer before or after they've applied (most disability lawyers will offer a free consultation) and then decide on the issue of representation later.
3. Do you need a lawyer for a disability hearing? You are not required to get a lawyer for a disability hearing. However, you would be well-advised to be represented before you go to a disability hearing. Not only is your claim likely to receive better consideration if you have a lawyer (unfortunately, this is a simple truth: judges will give your claim more consideration if you have legal assistance), a lawyer who specializes in social security law will also know how to properly prepare your case for presentation before an administrative law judge. This will include gathering all the necessary documentation but will also include using a knowledge of SSA rules and regulations to craft a solid argument as to why you should be approved for SSDI (social security disability insurance) or SSI (supplemental security income) on the basis of both medical and vocational considerations.
4. Will a lawyer improve your chances of winning disability benefits? Statistics indicate that claimants who go to disability hearings unrepresented(that is, claimants who have pursued the appeals process at least this far) have about a 40% chance of being awarded disability benefits, while claimants who go to a disability hearing represented by a qualified lawyer (one who specializes in disability cases) will have about a 60% chance of being awarded benefits.
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