Applying for and being awarded Social Security Disability Insurance benefits (“SSDI” or “Social Security Disability”) is a difficult and confusing process.
Many people simply don’t know how to correctly fill out the necessary forms or how to get their medical records or other medical documentation.
Further, it is well known that nationwide, the Social Security Administration (“SSA”) denies about 65% of all applications for SSDI.
So it’s not surprising that many individuals wonder whether they need to hire an attorney in order to get SSDI benefits.
The short answer is “no.”
You are not required to hire an attorney to apply for SSDI benefits.
But just because you don’t have to hire an attorney doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t.
In fact, hiring an experienced Social Security Disability attorney like John Fagan can significantly increase your chances of being awarded SSDI benefits.
Here are some factors you should consider when thinking about whether to hire an attorney if you are applying for SSDI.
If your medical condition disables you from working, and you think it is necessary to apply for SSDI benefits, it is advisable to speak with disability counsel.
Because as touched on above, when it comes to Social Security Disability benefits or disability law, it is rarely a good idea to try to handle the case without an attorney.
The application process is complicated and often convoluted.
Indeed, statistics reveal that 34% of applicants who do not hire an attorney are denied benefits. In contrast, 60% of applicants who do hire an attorney are awarded benefits.
Is this because you “must” have an attorney to file for SSDI?
It’s because the laws, administrative rules, application and appeal process, are all confusing and complicated— but must be carefully and fully complied with.
Unless you work in the field of disability law, chances are that you will not fill out your application properly or will not submit the correct (or most current, or enough) medical records and your application will be rejected.
And you will simply end up wasting your time and energy.
When you have limited energy, and/or physical, mental, or emotional abilities, trying to handle a stressful and complex process can wear you out.
Having a Social Security Disability attorney lets you get on with your healing while being confident that the paperwork is getting done. Plus, proper submissions help the SSA make more timely decisions.
Most Applications are Granted on Appeal
Further, if you are denied benefits initially (and most people are) having a disability attorney on board will allow you to move quickly into the appeals phase.
There are several levels of appeal:
- An administrative hearing before an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ)
- Appeal to the Appeals Council
- Filing a lawsuit in federal court
Statistics show that the appeals process at the level of an administrative hearing before an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) has a higher success rate than at the lower reconsideration level. Administrative appeals saw a 46.5% success rate in 2016 as compared to only a 9.2 % success rate at the reconsideration level.
Generally, those who enter into the appeals stage either already have a disability attorney, or they retain one.
You Can Afford to Hire a Social Security Disability Attorney
Finally, before you attempt to apply for SSDI benefits alone, consider the fact that disability attorneys do not get paid unless you are awarded benefits.
And, if you are awarded benefits, the disability attorney’s fees do not come out of your current monthly benefits. They are taken out of any past due benefits.
Also, attorney’s fees are limited to up to 25% of an award of disability back payments, and this fee is “capped” at $6,000. So, if you are awarded benefits, the attorney’s fees will either be 25% of your award, or $6,000 —whichever is less.
Winning SSDI benefits is never easy.
Improve your chances of success by hiring an experienced Florida Social Security Disability lawyer.
Social Security Disability Attorney in North Central Florida, Here to Help.
If you are thinking of applying for Social Security Disability benefits in Florida, don’t try it alone. John Fagan and his legal team are dedicated to helping those who are injured or disabled. Contact us here or simply call our firm at 777-JOHN. We serve clients throughout Florida. Our main office is in Orange Park, but we have consulting offices in Palatka, Middleburg, Keystone, Starke, Gainesville, and Ocala.