It is my opinion that every person that wants to apply for Social Security Disability benefits or Supplemental Security Income should use an attorney. It is obviously not impossible to get disability benefits by applying for yourself, but why would you?
Since Social Security regulates how attorneys can be paid in Social Security cases it will not cost you money out of pocket up font. In most cases, your attorney will not be paid unless you are awarded disability benefits. Social Security attorneys who have a standard fee agreement receive 25% of any back payment (maximum is $6,000). In addition to that, clients may be also be responsible for other expenses (medical records, making copies), which must be listed in the signed free agreement. If there is no back payment, there is the potential to receive professional representation in your case and for the attorney to not receive any compensation.
Now, if you are a pessimistic person, right away you should be thinking - if this attorney doesn't do his or her best for me and try to get me benefits, they are wasting their time because they will not get paid. This fee structure entices attorneys to do their best for you because it also benefits them.
Not only this, but applying for disability benefits can be a frustrating and time consuming process. Many clients who come to me explain that they intended to apply for Social Security months ago but kept putting it off because either they weren't having a good day or they didn't feel like spending the one good day they've had in weeks filling out forms.
I can't speak for all attorneys, but here is a list of things that I do for my clients:
- File the initial application, timely file appeals, timely request an Administrative Law Hearing
- Complete adult disability reports at each level
- Fill out all Function Reports, review Third Party Function Reports, Complete Work History Reports
- Review all medical records to make sure favorable evidence is submitted
- Answer all questions the claimant has about the process
- Communicate with Social Security making sure they have all of the information they need to make a decision on your case
- Communicate with your doctors if required
- At hearing, organizing all medical evidence and presenting it in a favorable prospective to the Administrative Law Judge.
- Represent clients at hearing by asking appropriate questions to persuade the judge that you are disabled