Choosing a Social Security Disability Lawyer or Advocate

Applying for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) can be a long process. Currently there are over a million people in queue, waiting for an approval of their award. What most don’t know is that this process can average between two to four years.

While some cases are clear-cut, countless others move through the process at a snail’s pace because of incomplete details or unclear answers. Sadly, a large percentage of applications are denied disability for these very same reasons.

Once denied, many Social Security disability applicants seek representation from a lawyer, delaying the process even more. Choosing a good Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) representative can help you to navigate the system faster.

Get Help Early

There is no reason why a Social Security disability applicant cannot seek help when filing the initial Social Security Disability Insurance application. While there may be some attorneys that only accept SSDI clients after their disability applications are denied, there are a growing number who are providing early stage assistance.

One of the first things to do when filing for Social Security Disability Insurance is to complete the Activities of Daily Living questionnaire. This form requires a level of detail that can be intimidating to someone not familiar with the process.

Getting help to complete this form can significantly increase your chances for obtaining an approval and help you to get your award quicker by avoiding the appeals process.

Choosing a Social Security Disability Lawyer or Advocate

Finding the Right Representative

There are two primary types of SSDI representatives: organizations and lawyers. The benefit of working with an organization is that they may have a staff of specialists and representatives who are experienced in handling Social Security disability claims around the country.

The benefit of working with a law firm is that they have the legal muscle to back you and your disability benefit claim.

Regardless of the type of representation you select, it’s important to find a representative who will work diligently on your behalf throughout the entire process. When interviewing candidates be sure to ask:

  • How much experience do you have representing someone with this specific disability?
  • How long have you been in business?
  • Are you accredited by the Better Business Bureau?
  • What is your success rate?
  • What are your fees?
  • Will you provide counsel to complete necessary paperwork?
  • Will you track forms and appeals to ensure timeliness? What documentation will you provide for me?
  • How many people will work on my file?
  • Will you attend any appointments or hearings with me? Is there an extra fee for this service?
  • Will you contact my doctors to obtain medical records for my file?
  • Is there a limit to the number of times I can call with questions?
  • How often will you check with the SSA about my claim?
  • Will you be responsible for confirming that my claim file is up-to-date?
  • How long should I expect the process to take?
  • Can I talk to any of your previous clients?

Experience Matters

There are a myriad of disabilities covered by Social Security disability insurance and the Social Security Administration has a defined set of guidelines, called the Disability Impairment Criteria, for each conditions, from cancer and diabetes to fibromyalgia, AIDS and strokes.

When preparing a case, it is important to use language specific to the disability type to prevent denials or delays.

Additional Resources