Do You Need to Hire a Disability Lawyer to Get SSDI Benefits?

Applying for Social Security disability benefits doesn’t require an attorney or advocate, but there are some good reasons why it’s better for claimants to retain one. Claim approval rates, processing denials, the risk of mistakes in paperwork, and the complexity of the application process are just some reasons claimants benefit from retaining a disability lawyer.

The Odds of Disability Claim Approval

The application to obtain SSDI benefits can be made online, over the phone, or by asking to receive the printed forms in the mail. If there are no mistakes and all the medical information that’s needed is submitted, the claim may be approved.

In 2021, however, only 30% of the millions of applications for SSDI benefits were approved at the initial level of the disability claim process. The number one reason initial applications are denied is because they lack the hard medical evidence to prove the applicant is unable to work due to a disabling condition.

It’s often assumed that Social Security will send the applicant to a doctor and get the required medical evidence that way to qualify for benefits. That isn’t the case. Even if the Social Security office does send the applicant for a medical exam, the medical report that’s generated may not be sufficient to prove a disability.

A disability lawyer will know what medical evidence is needed and will help collect and assemble it for submission with the application.

Fighting a Denial

If the initial claim for disability benefits is denied, a request for an appeal hearing held at the Office of Disability Adjudication will be necessary to have the claim reconsidered.

The rate of approval by Chicago administrative law judges (ALJs) for appealed claims range from 28.15% to 70.19% historically. An experienced disability lawyer will know how to work with an ALJ to reach a favorable determination. In addition, an attorney or advocate will know how to correct mistakes made in the initial application and how to prepare claimants for their hearing. 

Every judge has preferences and peculiarities that allow them to find some evidence that’s presented to them more persuasive than other evidence, and a seasoned disability lawyer will know what that evidence is and how to obtain it. Individuals retaining a disability lawyer during the claims process have twice the chance at receiving an approval.