Do I Need a Lawyer to File for Social Security Disability Benefits?

If you are physically or mentally disabled and can no longer work, you may be eligible for disability benefits—income that can help your family pull through the tough times you are experiencing. Filing for Social Security Disability benefits can be daunting and intimidating. Applicants must fill out seemingly endless forms filled with language that can be difficult to fully understand. Although you could file a claim for disability yourself, going before an administrative law judge (ALJ) without representation can result in a lost opportunity to get the disability benefits you are entitled to.


Increase Your Chances of Being Approved for Benefits

Although some people who go it alone are approved, statistics show that the Social Security Administration is more likely to approve a claim if the applicant is represented by a lawyer. The vast majority of Social Security Disability (SSDI/SSD) and SSI claims are denied at the initial claim and reconsideration stages: this is true whether or not the applicant is represented by counsel. However, having a lawyer at this stage is still important, because a lawyer can set your application up for a successful review before an ALJ. An experienced lawyer can:

  • Advise you regarding the onset date of your disability (this is crucial for being awarded all the back pay you are entitled to)
  • Lay the groundwork for proving that your disability meets one of the impairments listed in Social Security’s “blue book”
  • Help you focus on the facts that are most persuasive to the Social Security Administration

If you initial claim is denied, you can petition to have your case heard by an ALJ. Having a lawyer at your trial can make or break your case. An experienced lawyer will:

  • Know what the ALJ is looking for
  • Know what questions to ask your doctor
  • Collect and submit relevant medical evidence, including test results and physician statements
  • Draft a brief to the ALJ
  • Apply their knowledge of applicable regulations and case law to your situation
  • Prepare you for the ALJ’s questions at your hearing
  • Elicit helpful testimony at your hearing
  • Cross examine medical experts to prove that you are unable to work

If the ALJ denies your application at the hearing, a lawyer can help you prevail at the next stages of appeal.


When Should I Call a Lawyer?

Social Security disability applicants are advised to call a lawyer as early as possible in the process. An experienced lawyer can help you evaluate the strength of your case, and ensure that your initial application lays the groundwork for your approval.

If your initial application has already been denied, it is not too late to hire a lawyer. Not only can a lawyer improve your chances of being approved, but they may also be able to move your case through the system more quickly, particularly if your financial situation is dire (i.e. your home is being foreclosed on) or if you have been diagnosed with a terminal illness.


New Jersey Social Security Disability Lawyers at Shebell & Shebell Represent Clients in All Stages of the Application and Appeals Process

Our seasoned team of disability lawyers are well versed in the Social Security Disability claims process. With over eight decades of combined experience and a successful track record, our trusted disability lawyers will fight to get you the benefits you deserve. We represent Social Security Disability applicants throughout New Jersey. For a free consultation, call us at 732-532-2011 or contact us online today.