Hiring an Attorney Can Ease Stress of a SSDI Appeal

Appealing a Social Security disability claim can seem like a daunting task, but the chances of that claim being successful increase significantly with the help of a qualified attorney.

Many claimants balk at the idea of hiring an attorney because of cost, but they often do not realize that there is no up-front cost in SSDI representation. Everyone has the right to be represented during the appeals process and the Social Security Administration has strict rules about the fees associated with that representation.

In fact, an attorney or representative cannot charge a fee without written approval from the SSA. In many cases, the lawyer only gets paid if the appeal is successful and even then the fee comes from the past-due benefits, according to the SSA’s website.

The SSA determines how much the representation was worth, which is usually 25 percent of the past-due benefits. A claimant never owes an attorney more than this except if there were fees associated with medical record acquisition. If a claimant comes to an agreement with the attorney about a fee structure before the appeal, the SSA will consider that agreement as long as the total is not more that 25 percent of the past-due benefits.

Hiring an attorney for a SSDI appeal could be considered a steal at this price since in most other types of cases attorney’s fees would be greater than that. If the appeal is won, then the lawyer is paid directly by the SSA and the claimant receives a check for the remainder of the past-due benefits.

There are clear benefits of having legal representation when filing a SSDI appeal. An attorney will be able to access a claimant’s file and act on his or her behalf before the SSA. An attorney also will be able to help a claimant access medical records or other information that supports the appeal of the claim. Accessing medical records can be a challenge and attorneys with Social Security appeal experience will know how to get that information in a timely manner.

A claimant can bring an attorney to any interviews, conferences or hearings with the SSA. An attorney also will be experienced at preparing witnesses for a hearing, which can be critical to the appeal.

The Social Security Administration will need to approve the fee structure even if a second party like an insurance company is paying the attorney’s fees, according to the SSA website.

Posted on Friday, June 14th, 2013. Filed under Social Security Disability.