Do I Need an Attorney to File My Application for Social Security Benefits?
I think the answer to this is “probably not”. Let me explain.
First, let me tell you a little about my experience with the Social Security system. I have been an attorney since 1988. I handled my first Social Security Disability Claim in 1989. Since that time I have handled close to five hundred claims. I handle them myself. If you hire me, you get me on the telephone. I will be the one doing the work, not a paralegal or someone else you did not call. I have handled as many as 400 hearings before the Social Security Administration. I was personally present at all of them. I did not send my assistant or associate. I have read the Code of Federal Regulations, which is where the Rules and Regulations applicable to a claim for Social Security Benefits can be found. I am a member of NOSSCR (National Organization of Social Security Claimant’s Representatives) and have been for many years. I handle most aspects of a Social Security Claim, including the first Appeal (Request For Reconsideration) the second appeal, (Request for Hearing Before Administrative Law Judge), the third appeal (Appeal to Appeals Council), and the fourth appeal (Appeal To Federal District Court).
Now why do I think that you probably do not need an attorney to represent you (Remember no matter who you call ask if they are a licensed attorney or merely a non-attorney representative. As the fees are tightly controlled by the Social Security Administration and both Attorneys and non attorney representatives have the same fees it only makes sense that you want the most highly trained, most experienced person representing you.) Unless you simply cannot organize a little information about yourself (and understandably some people cannot say a person with brain injury) the following advice should see you through the initial application process.
Three ways to make an application 1. Go to your local Social Security Administration (SSA) office and fill out the application. 2. Call the SSA office and ask them to mail you the application and you complete it. 3. Go on line to WWW.SSA.GOV and fill out the application on line. All three have the exact same application, so it is really what you feel most comfortable with. No matter which method you choose, you will need four lists with you, prepared in advance. These lists will make the application process smooth.
1. List of all injuries, illnesses, and/or diseases you believe make you disabled. 2. A list of your medical care providers (hospitals, doctors, physical therapists etc) with addresses and telephone numbers. 3. A list of the jobs you have had in the last 15 years, with the name and address of each employer and they type of work you did. It will help if you can list the physical demands of the job i.e. what was the heaviest weight you had to lift, how long you had to sit, stand and/or walk etc. and 4. A list of your medications, what they are for, who prescribed them for you, the doses and what side effects the meds cause you.
This is the information the Social Security Administration is looking for when reviewing your application. If you are prepared to give them this information, you probably do not need a lawyer to give it to them. If you win on your first application, you will not need to share any of your money with a lawyer.
A good Social Security Lawyer will be willing to discuss your case, and your need (or not) for representation at the time of filing. I will talk with you, and assist you when you need it without looking for a fee while your initial application is pending. It is for those folks who are turned down, and need to appeal that I think require an attorney.