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Why You Should Get A Lawyer When Applying For Disability Benefits

Christiana Lilly
November 20, 2020

It’s one thing to get sick and need a day or two off from work — it’s another when you’ve been impaired to the point of not being able to work long term.

What if you’re in a debilitating car accident, or are dealing with severe mental health issues after a traumatic incident? You may not be in a place where you can continue going to work, and those bills aren’t going to stop for you.

Thankfully, over the years you have had Social Security taxes taken out of your paycheck, and that includes disability benefits. That makes you eligible to apply for Social Security Disability Insurance, which can help you keep up the costs to care for you and your family. But before you fill out even a single line on the application, it would be best to speak to a lawyer first.

People usually have similar questions as to why a lawyer is needed in this situation and how they can help.  We have complied a few of these FAQ's and answers in a list below.

Why Do I Need A Lawyer?

Having a lawyer when you apply for social security disability benefits is not required — you can absolutely do it yourself. However, the numbers show that one’s application is more likely to be accepted with the help of a lawyer. In 2019, of the more than 2 million applications filed, 65 percent of them were denied, according to the Social Security Administration.

You can improve your chances of your application being accepted by hiring a lawyer who specializes in and understands what reviewers are looking for when they go over the application. A lawyer can also help you with an appeal if you’ve already been denied. 

A lawyer will not only save you time, but a lot of frustration.

disability lawyer

Why Do Applications Get Denied?

There’s a number of reasons why an application can be denied, but mainly because the form was not filled out properly or there was not enough medical evidence proving that the applicant would be out of work for at least a year. With the help of an experienced lawyer, they can help you bypass those mistakes and make sure you present a strong case.

How Do I Pay For A Disability Lawyer?

A lawyer who takes on your case is a little different from hiring a lawyer in other fields. For disability applications, the lawyer is not paid up front. Instead, they will be paid 25 percent of your back-pay benefits with a maximum of $6,000. So if the Social Security Administration accepts your application and gives you six months of back pay, the lawyer will take a quarter of that amount or $6,000 — whichever is less.

In 2019, of the more than 2 million applications filed, 65 percent of them were denied

Social Security Administration

I Have a Lawyer, Now What?

When you have chosen your representation, you must share their name and contact information with the Appointment of Representative form. By choosing an attorney or other representative, they will be informed of all changes or updates in your application.

The attorney or representative must also file a fee agreement, which must be approved by the Social Security Administration. They cannot charge you more than the agreed-upon amount.

What Do I Get From Disability Benefits?

If you believe that you won’t be able to work for at least a year, it’s a good idea to consider applying for disability benefits. Since you won’t have regular income, the benefits from the Social Security taxes you’ve paid over the years will come back to help you and your family in the form of Social Security Disability Insurance. This will allow you to continue paying your bills as well as give you access to medical insurance.

For those who are low income and have limited resources, there is also the Supplemental Security Income program. That is funded by general tax revenues.

disability lawyer help

What Do I Need To Do To Apply

Applying for disability benefits requires a lot of paperwork and evidence. It’s best to prepare all the information and documents before you start the application so you’re prepared. According to the Social Security Administration, the application will include

  • Personal information
    • Your social security number, your date of birth and place of birth
    • The same information for your current spouse (and any former spouses), as well as date of marriage or death (if relevant)
    • Names and dates of birth for any children younger than 18
    • Your banking information 
  • Your medical condition
    • Contact information for someone who knows about your medical condition 
    • Details about your medical history. This includes dates of treatment, contact information for who treated you and the facility, your medications and prescriber, and the names and dates of medical tests.
  • Work information
    • Your earnings from this year and last
    • Name and address of employer from this year and last
    • Dates of military service before 1968
    • Dates of jobs you held in the 15 years before you became unable to work
    • Items you intend to file for or already have, including workers’ compensation, black lung benefits, longshore and harbor workers’ compensation, disability benefits etc.
  • Documents
    • Birth certificate (or other proof of birth)
    • Proof of U.S. citizenship or residency 
    • Military discharge papers if you served in the military before 1968
    • W2 forms or other tax returns from the last year
    • Medical evidence
    • Proof of temporary or permanent workers’ compensation benefits you have received

See the full list here in the form of a checklist as you gather these materials.

If you’re thinking about applying for disability benefits, begin the process of a free consultation to find out how we can help you through the process.

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We are here to help you and loved ones advocate for justice. Feel free to send us any questions you might have, either about an injury or the process for pursuing justice so we can help you exercise your rights.

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