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When Do I Need a Lawyer for Social Security Disability?

Wykoff & Sikes, PLLC April 19, 2023

Many people wonder about legal representation when filing a social security disability claim. Do you need a lawyer for social security disability? The answer depends on the overall circumstances.

In short, the Social Security Administration (SSA) never requires applicants to hire an attorney, although you have the right to do so at any time.. The circumstances warranting professional assistance might include filling out paperwork, gathering required documents or appealing a rejected claim.

Having professional representation, for example by a social security disability lawyer, can improve by three times your chances of getting Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI). (The government offers these two benefits programs through the SSA to people with disabilities.)

Some basic circumstances under which having a professional social security advocate may help:

  • If you struggle to fill out the paperwork required to file a claim. A professional review of your submission helps identify inconsistencies or omissions that could hurt your chance.

  • Gathering required documentation, including medical records and other evidence supporting your claim.

  • Meetings with social security officials, whether virtual or in person.

You may appeal any decision made against your claim. At this point in the process, you may feel a lot of stress. Hiring a qualified social security disability attorney to represent you can alleviate some of that stress and give you a better chance of winning.  The attorneys at Wykoff & Sikes are experienced with the various levels of appeals and can help you successfully file the appropriate appeal for your case.

Preparing for a Hearing

Schedule a hearing once your claim is denied at the reconsideration level. At this point a social security disability attorney supplies valuable guidance and assistance in the following ways:

  • Witness prep. Your lawyer uses their experience to prepare you and any supporting witnesses for questions they might encounter.

  • Questioning Experts. If you appear before an administrative law judge, usually on a second appeal, your attorney can question any SSA witness.

  • Increase your chances to win. Studies by the federal Government Accountability Office shows those represented by a social security disability law professional three-times more likely to succeed.

How Much Does Hiring a Social Security Disability Lawyer Cost?

Most attorneys in a Social Security Disability practice work on a contingency, meaning you only pay them if your claim is approved. In fact, the SSA must authorize any fee agreement between you and your lawyer. And then, the SSA pays your attorney directly from your “back pay”. The back pay is your accrued benefits from the time taken for an appeal, if you’re found medically-qualified for benefits. Typically, the fee is capped at 25% of back pay by federal law or $6,000, settling on whichever amount is less.

In cases requiring multiple appeals and a lot more time from an attorney, they can petition the federal government for additional fees. The SSA must approve any further funds paid.

Don’t forget that some expenses will be extra, such as medical reports and other fact-gathering. These charges will require out-of-pocket payment. Be sure to establish clear lines of communication with your attorney about any extra fees.

How to Choose the Best Social Security Disability Lawyer for You

In East Tennessee you’ll find dozens of attorneys and other professional representatives with expertise in social security disability law. Check with your local Social Security office or a nonprofit group, such as the bar association or legal aid, for qualified recommendations.

The attorneys of Wykoff & Sikes, PLLC, have over 40 years combined experience aiding the people of East Tennessee. And they stand ready to represent you. Once we reach an agreement, we’ll file a notice with the SSA and start working on your behalf. Contact us today online or call.