If you’ve ever asked yourself whether you really need to hire a Social Security disability lawyer, you’re not alone. It’s a question many people struggle with, in fact. Particularly those who want to save as much money as possible while pursuing benefits. The choice between working with a Social Security disability lawyer and going it alone will ultimately rely on factors that are unique to you. But there are important reasons to hire a lawyer, even if you think you can’t afford to do so.
Reason #1: You’ll Get Your Paperwork Filed Faster + Are Nearly 3x More Likely to Secure SSD Benefits
People with a Social Security disability lawyer are nearly 3x more likely to receive benefits than those without legal representation.
A lawyer will file your paperwork faster and more accurately than you can while applying on your own. A Social Security disability lawyer can explain complicated forms and terms you may not understand; think of it like you would if you were working on forms for your taxes. Having an ally who works in the field and understands the details of each form can save time, money, and aggravation compared to trying to figure it out yourself.
A Social Security disability lawyer can also correct any mistakes you make. Best of all, a lawyer ensures you don’t leave out any details or forms that would prevent your benefit approval.
Reason #2: Applying in Person is Difficult, Especially Now
Some Social Security Administration (SSA) offices are now open for select services. However, because of the COVID-19 pandemic, many offices remain closed to walk-ins and general visits. This means it’s even harder to apply in person for benefits than it was before.
This also means the person who might have been a primary source of information before — the clerk at the Social Security office — is no longer available to answer questions or help you through the process.
Hiring a Social Security disability lawyer allows your representative to file all paperwork on your behalf, either in-person or electronically. Lawyers who understand the system know when you need new or updated forms. They can also ensure your application meets all the SSA’s requirements.
Reason #3: No Social Security Disability Lawyer Charges Money Up Front
Social Security disability lawyers usually work on a contingency agreement. This means that the attorney won’t ask for any money up front to start working on your case. Instead, they receive a negotiated percentage of your backpay lump-sum award.
This benefits you in a few different ways. First, if an attorney doesn’t think you have a viable case, they likely won’t accept you as a client. This might sound like a disadvantage at first, but it’s not. It saves time and the aggravation of slogging through task after task, only to be denied benefits.
A second advantage is that the attorney who takes your case doesn’t receive payment unless the SSA awards you benefits. This motivates that attorney to work as hard as possible on your case. The better your benefit, the better their paycheck — up to a point.
The SSA has requirements in place to protect claimants with legal representation. This includes how much of a fee your Social Security disability lawyer can earn. For example, the SSA requires that before your lawyer can be paid (or even file paperwork on your behalf), they must first file the appropriate appointment paperwork with the SSA. This paperwork requires your approval.
The SSA also caps the amount your representative can receive as payment. This amount usually equals 25% of your lump-sum back benefits or $6,000.00, whichever is less. While there are circumstances in which an attorney can petition for the SSA to waive that cap, only the agency can make that decision.
Reason #4: The Right Social Security Disability Attorney Can Obtain Medical Records You Can’t
The Social Security Administration will require your full medical records in order to process your claim. If you don’t already have copies of your medical records, you’ll have to pay money up front to obtain them. While fees vary depending on your healthcare provider and where you live, you can generally expect to pay about one dollar per page for medical records (up to 20 pages). After that, you’ll pay anywhere from ten to eighty cents per page for additional pages. Charges are typically higher for imaging tests and slides.
These fees create a barrier to countless applicants who simply don’t have the funds to obtain all their medical records. However, if you retain a Social Security disability lawyer to file your application, that attorney can pay for those records on your behalf.
Additionally, if you haven’t been to a doctor recently because you cannot afford to go, a Social Security disability attorney can cover the cost of that visit for you. This will give you the medical evidence necessary to support your case.
Get the Legal Assistance You Need Today
Working with a Social Security disability lawyer makes you nearly 3x as likely to win benefits than going it alone. They can also pay for your medical records and doctor’s appointments, if necessary. Disability advocates work on a contingency basis, so you pay $0 for legal assistance if you don’t win benefits. And if you win, then you’ll only pay a small, one-time fee.
Ready to see if you may qualify? Complete your free online SSD benefits evaluation now!
Lisa Allen is a writer and editor who lives in suburban Kansas City. She holds MFAs in Creative Nonfiction and Poetry, both from the Solstice Low-Residency Program in Creative Writing at Pine Manor College. Prior to becoming a writer, Lisa worked as a paralegal, where she specialized in real estate in and around Chicago.