How can a Social Security disability lawyer help me get Social Security benefits?

By / March 3, 2016 / Applying for Social Security Disability & SSI Benefits / 44 Comments

Learn how a disability attorney can help your disability claim or appeal and increase the chances of your getting Disability Social Security benefits.

The Many Reasons Why a Social Security Lawyer is Valuable
Attorneys who are experienced in claims for Social Security Disability can be invaluable to your success in being awarded Social Security benefits for disability. They are experienced in communicating with your physicians and past employers to facilitate collection of information pertinent to your claim.

They know the law, so when they review the facts of your case—your medical history and your work history—they see clearly which aspects of your situation meet the requirements of Social Security Disability law. As a result, the details that count get emphasized in your original claim, raising the likelihood of your being approved and avoiding having to appeal.

Similarly, if your claim has been denied, Social Security lawyers are good at reviewing your claim file and analyzing the key points to be addressed when you appeal your Social Security Disability denial, whether your appeal is a request for reconsideration, a hearing, or an Appeals Council review. For more information about Social Security’s appeal process, visit our article I Was Denied Social Security Disability. What Can I Do?

If you have to go to court, your attorney, who knows hearing rules, will know how to navigate the hearing process and will be able to present your case more cohesively for the judge than you are likely to. He or she is also experienced in questioning expert witnesses, such as vocational or medical specialists.

In summary, it helps to have someone in your corner who knows the ropes when you are pursuing a application for disability Social Security benefits.

More about Social Security Hearings and Attorneys
For more information about Social Security Disability hearings, please see our several articles about hearings, starting with What is a Social Security Disability Hearing, and What Can I Expect When I Request a Disability Hearing? If you are wondering how to pay for legal representation to get Social Security benefits, see our article How Do Social Security Disability Attorneys Get Paid for Representing You in Your Disability Claim?

How can a Social Security disability lawyer help me get Social Security benefits?
3 (60%) 3 votes

  • Dear Teresa,

    Yes, you should provide updated medical information and documentation (records) for the full time since you requested the hearing. I recommend that you do so quickly because you may be getting close to getting a hearing date, and it would be best to get your claim updated before the hearing.

    Sincerely,
    Kay

  • Dear Lutz,

    A point of clarity: the judge does not release funds. The judge releases a letter of medical approval for disability benefits. If the benefit approval is for Supplemental Security Income (SSI), the local office releases funds and if the approval is for Social Security Disability (SSDI), a central payment center releases benefits.

    Whichever benefit it is, you can submit a statement of dire need to the local office, which might speed up normal processing by a little.

    If you were approved for SSDI, the central payment center will double check that you were insured on the date of your established date of disability, apply any offsets you might have for SSI (see below), workers compensation, or public pension. They will calculate and authorize payment. this can take two months or more.

    If you were approved for Supplemental Security Income (SSI), your local Social Security office will contact you for a financial update so that benefits can be calculated for past months. Usually you will be paid within a month of the update interview and submission of any requested documents.

    If you were approved for both, SSDI benefit calculation will not be completed until SSI calculation has been completed. SSDI back benefits will be reduced by the amount of SSI benefits payable for the months in which SSDI and SSI eligibility overlap. Typically SSI back pay is paid in up to three installments six months apart and the first two will not exceed $2,205. However, if after your Social Security starts you are no longer eligible for SSI, you can request the remaining SSI installments to be released.

    Sincerely,
    Kay

  • Dear Teresa,

    See my response of a moment ago your last posting.

    Sincerely,
    Kay

  • Dear Teresa,

    If you are homeless, in danger of being evicted or of having your home foreclosed upon, or some other acute emergency you can submit a statement of dire need, which can speed up the waiting period a little bit. If this is applicable to you, discuss the situation with your attorney.

    Sincerely,
    Kay

  • You are welcome, Teresa.

  • Dear Teresa,

    Wait times vary from one hearing office to another. You can check on the average wait for your hearing office (listed by city) at https://www.ssa.gov/appeals/DataSets/01_NetStat_Report.html.

    Sincerely,
    Kay

  • Dear Teresa,

    I am unable to predict whether your claim will be approved on the record without a hearing, but only a small percentage of hearing appeals are decided without a hearing.

    Sincerely,
    Kay

  • Dear Teresa,

    Please see my response of a few minutes ago to your first post.

    Sincerely,
    Kay

  • Dear Teresa,

    As you describe your medical conditions, I’d say that you may qualify as disabled. Whether or not you are eligible for benefits depends on whether you meet the non-disability requirements for either Social Security Disability or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) disability eligibility. I suggest that you contact the Social Security Administration to file a claim or claims.

    Sincerely,
    Kay

  • You are welcome, Teresa.

  • Dear Teresa,

    If you are approved for Social Security Disability, not SSI, and his spouse’s benefit on your account is more than his disability benefit, he can draw the difference off your account. For example, if his benefit is $700 and the spouse’s benefit would be $900, he would receive $200 from your account.

    Sincerely,
    Kay

  • Dear Teresa,

    You can check average wait times at hearings offices around the country by visiting https://www.ssa.gov/appeals/DataSets/01_NetStat_Report.html and looking up your office.

    Sincerely,
    Kay

  • Dear Teresa,

    Your appeal may not be assigned to a judge until close to the time that the hearing date is scheduled, which is usually three to four weeks before the hearing.

    Sincerely,
    Kay

  • Dear Teresa,

    The estimate of July that you have been given is probably the most accurate you are going to get. Notification of the hearing date likely won’t arrive more than three or four weeks before the date scheduled.

    Sincerely,
    Kay

  • You make a really good point about how how a good social security lawyer can review your denied claim, and figure out the important things to address in your appeal. I remember hearing that about 50% of claims get denied, so it’s definitely something that many people would have to deal with. Do you happen to know the approval rate of claims that are made with and without n attorney? That could really help people see just how useful they are.

    • Kay Derochie

      Dear Maggie,

      I do not have statistics on success rates with and without attorneys. Such stats may be somewhere in public records.

      Sincerely,
      Kay

  • Isadora

    Hi, I have birth deformities in booth feet , multiple surgeries , severe pain , swelling , for my condition is not improvement .
    I was dinied for SSD. I am off work from December 2015 .now I start having pain in my lower back and my left hip. My Dr. Tol me next step I need ankle replacement in right foot and couple surgery for my left foot.
    I need to appell now, do you think if I have chance to win case ??
    Thank you !!
    Isadora

    • Kay Derochie

      Dear Isadora,

      Whether or not you are disabled according to law depends on your age and your work history and education as well as your medical conditions. I suggest that you hire an experienced Social Security attorney to help you with your appeal.

      Sincerely,
      Kay

  • I have been hearing about social security disability lawyers quite a bit lately, and I was wondering how they help. I had no idea that they communicate with your physicians and past employers to collect information to help your claim. I think it’s interesting that people can be denied for these types of claims. Thanks for the information.

    • Kay Derochie

      You are welcome, Gregory.

  • Michelle

    Hi there!
    I couldn’t find a local ssd lawyer who had time for me. I contacted one in NJ (Im in VA) and I signed the agreement forms.
    I have been denied and now have my appeal forms to fill out…
    Shouldn’t they be helping me with these forms??
    She originally told me she can’t help with my initial disability forms. I had to do them alone. This is not the actual lawyer but I guess his assistant. I am to fill out these appeal forms “as best as I can, dates can be as close as possible”.
    I need help and im scared im going to get denied again!
    Please give me your advise, thank you kindly,
    Michelle

    • Kay Derochie

      Dear Michelle,

      I recommend that you follow the attorney office’s instructions but that you also ask for a copy of your claim file so you and your attorney can find out the exact reasons for the denial so those reasons can be addressed.

      Sincerely,
      Kay

    • Danny

      I’m trying to do my appeal I called dozens of attorneys and they all don’t want to help me because I was in prison . and I don’t know about this kinda stuff I’m gonna be homeless real soon how can I have my back surgery done while living on the streets I’m trying to better my life but being a fellon I can’t get no help no wonder prison is a revolving door they give us no other options

      • Kay Derochie

        Dear Danny,

        I suggest that you get a copy of your claim file so that you can see the exact reasons that you were denied. That will help you to see what evidence or arguments you need to make to have a successful appeal. You might also see if there are any agencies in your area that provide assistance to former inmates to help them get back on track. If so, they might have someone who could help.

        Sincerely,
        Kay

  • Victoria Bell

    Hello – I am looking for lawyer to help me out get my brother SSI. He has been denied but I now need help to get this approval.

    Do you know of a firm that I can contact in San Diego to get the help that I need?

    He is twin and one has been receiving SSI since 1989 and the other has been denied.

    Any lawyer contacts would be greatly appreciated.

    Thanks,
    Victoria

    • Kay Derochie

      Dear Victoria,

      I suggest you contact the California Bar Association for a list of attorneys who specialize in Social Security Disability.

      Sincerely,
      Kay

  • juan

    I apply for disability for like 5 medical conditions but 1 of then is epilepsy and now I’m in the step of reconsideration.and the claim examiner sent me for a blood test to check the levels of my epilepsy medication, now if my level are OK.what can happens?

    • Kay Derochie

      Dear Juan,

      I am unable to answer your question because I do not have the medical expertise to interpret how a good medication level relates to limitations potentially caused by epilepsy.

      Sincerely,
      Kay

  • DREMA ELMORE

    I was denied my SSD. I am 59 1/2 yrs old, soon to be 60. I have Bilateral Sensorineural Hearing loss which is permanent and untreatable. It affects your nerve and conduction as well as the loss of your consonants and vowels in speech and hearing which causes misunderstanding of conversations even with my hearing aids. I also have continuous “crickets” which is due to the lack of conduction, so the nerves make their own noise. I have worked in a medical specialty 25 yrs. and can no longer do my job due to the hearing loss. I noticed there is not a lot of information on hearing loss. I do have an attorney who has filed a reconsideration request.

    • Kay Derochie

      Dear Drema,

      I suggest discussing with your attorney the possibility of having your hearing specialist write a letter that explains the every day hearing problems that result from your diagnosis. You could also discuss with the attorney getting a letter from your last supervisor about the problems that he or she observed you having on the job that interfered with your being able to do your job. You may also need to make clear that the condition got worse because apparently you have been working with the condition for some time.

      Sincerely,
      Kay

  • kathleen tualla

    I am leaving a comment, my appeal hearing was in jan 2015, I just called the ssa office of appeals they said m,y case is in post. I have seen their doctor and they have all ny medical records, I am post cancer colonrectal cancer in 2013. I was wondering how much longer before I have a decision? I am 61 and will be 62 in feb 2016. thank-you, Kathleen tualla

    • Kay Derochie

      Dear Kathleen,

      I can’t predict how long your appeal will be in post-hearing review. I suggest calling every two to three weeks to see how the appeal is progressing.

      Sincerely,
      Kay

  • marlon stokes

    I recently sent to 2 doctors by the judge for eye issues and spinal issues. The disability eye doctor said I had photophobia astigmatism and dry eye syndrome. I virtually wear sunglasses 24/7. As far as my overall exam, the disability doctor said I have cervical radiculopathy which is affecting my right hand and arm strength. He said it’s serious and I’ll need a year of treatment. I went to my PCP and she said I have cervical spondylosis degenerative disc disease and lumbar spondylosis. She said arthritis looks to be causing issues with arm and hand. Do you think this will help my case.

    • Kay Derochie

      Dear Marion,

      You ask whether I think “this” will help your case. Please clarify what “this” refers to, your own doctor’s opinion or all the medical information you shared?

      Thank you,

      Kay

  • Chris

    I was originally denied ssd in 2011 I did not appeal now in 2014 my ra, fibromyalgia and degenerative disc disease as well as being on heavy pain medications I was still denied with a lawyer . I decided to switch attorneys and he told me to file my appeal myself since the deadline is less than a month away. I really cannot think. Like I used to I don’t feel comfortable doing this. Also on my first submission to ssd claim I was requested to be evaluated by a ss doctor and psychologist. The doctor was discusting. He did not wear gloves he cut me with his long fingernails and wiped the blood away. My sister was with me in the room and informed me he looked up my gown at every chance I don’t know what to do. I feel se violated.

    • Kay Derochie

      Dear Chris,

      File the appeal so you don’t miss the deadline and put on the application that you are in the process of getting an attorney. Then try to find one to help with submitting more information for the appeal. Also request a copy of your claim file from Social Security, so you know the specific reasons for the denial, be able to read the consultant’s report, and check to ese if all your own medical records are in the claim file. If not, get the records and also discuss your claim with your rheumatologist and perhaps get a statement from him or her regarding your limitations. With regard to the consulting doctor, if you choose, you could report his lack of professionalism to the Medical Board of state.

      Sincerely,
      Kay

  • Christina

    I have had 2 back surgeries. Was just told by a neurosurgeon that another will not fix me. I also have some mental issues. Been on lots of meds for a long time. I was denied. They actually used 2 Dr’s in their determination that I hadn’t even seen yet. I’ve hired an attorney to take care of the appeal. Do I even stand a chance?

    • Kay Derochie

      Dear Christina,

      If errors were made and incorrect information was used in the decision, you do have a chance. Also, your attorney would not have taken the case if he or she did not believe that you had a chance of approval.

      Sincerely,
      Kay

  • Kim Sok

    My daughter (17months) have mitral regurgitation. She’ll be on medication for the rest of her life. I got a denial letter.

    • Kay Derochie

      Dear Kim,

      Being on medication may not mean that your daughter is disabled. I suggest that you talk with her doctor. If she is not developing normally or is not engaging in normal activities for her age because of her cardiac condition, then appeal.

      Sincerely,
      Kay

  • Mark Foree

    My wife has had several foot surgeries. She was a cardiac intensive care nurse. Her feet have been a problem to her all her life as she had
    some botched foot surgeries when she was in Jr High, she has tried to work many times, always to end up having to quit because of the foot issue. The problem foot causes extra stress on her knees and ankles. Her foot does flex. It’s fused. Her last surgery when they cut her foot joints out where her toes connect to her foot, we were told that would take care of the pain and swelling. It did not work either. Each step we have taken has slowed her down to no ability to walk very far because of the constant pain. She started looking at the SSI disability site and some how ended up getting an email from them claiming she didn’t have enough consecutive quarters worked to qualify. She is discouraged and I am thinking, she is 54 now she has worked a lot, just not consecutive since 97 since her feet started getting even worse with age. Is there any hope for her on the disability issue.
    She has worked a few years since then but only to end up with more foot surgery.

    • Kay Derochie

      Dear Mark,

      Your wife should check again with Social Security to see if she has twenty work credits in the last ten years; or she can request an earnings statement (not a benefit statement) at http://www.ssa.gov. The statement will show her work on record and whether or not she is insured. If she is not insured but is short only a few credits (also called quarters of coverage), her work in 2013 and 2014 might not have posted as yet and when added in could be enough to complete the twenty credits. Note that she also has to be fully insured. The statement will also say whether she is fully insured.

      Sincerely,

      Kay

  • Kareen Bass

    I have filed for SSI over 6months ago and was denied for it,, question is have I let to much time go past to file an appeal???

    • Kay Derochie

      Dear Karen,

      You have sixty days to appeal a denial. Social Security allows five days for delivery of the denial letter. This means that Social Security must receive your appeal within sixty-five days of the date on the denial letter. If you are outside the appeal period and you are still disabled, you could file a new claim.

      Sincerely,

      Kay

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