Do You Need An Advocate or Attorney
It is not required that you obtain legal counsel when filing your disability claim. Many applicants handle their own disability claim. If the application process seems too difficult or frustrating, you may feel that you need someone to represent your interests. This person can be an attorney but might also be a family member or friend that is capable of assisting you and advocating for your needs. If you contact the SSA to inquire whether or not you need representation, their representatives will often answer that you do not need representation. This is not because the process is simple but because you are allowed the opportunity to represent yourself. The process of applying for SSD/SSI was developed to make it easy for claimants to represent their own interests. However, as the administration has grown this process has become increasingly difficult. As a result, the SSA will work with an advocate designated by you to resolve most issues related to your claim. However, should your claim reach a level that involves court proceedings you must retain an attorney.

The Value Of An Attorney or Advocate
The laws and guidelines that regulate the SSD/SSI application process are complex and often confusing. You may believe it is clear that you are disabled and therefore assume that you do not need to secure legal representation. Many claimants are denied as a result of this assumption. The SSA denies 60% of all applications and must continue into the various stages of the appeals process. Statistical analysis of Social Security cases consistently shows that those claimants represented by an experienced and knowledgeable attorney or advocate have a higher rate of approval than those claimants choosing to represent themselves. An attorney or social security disability advocate can also assist you in maximizing the amount of benefits that you are awarded.

The experience of an advocate or attorney who specializes in Social Security law is an incredible asset to your case. A professional advocate or attorney will counsel you on how the SSA will evaluate the nature of your disability. Furthermore, legal counsel is extremely effective in developing a successful legal strategy that includes strategically preparing your documentation, medical records, and evidence of your disability.

Finding Representation
Typically, an attorney will not take a case until it has received an initial denial. Nonetheless, you may need assistance in filing your initial claim. There are a number of professional advocacy services that specialize in SSA disability claims for initial applicants.

Both attorneys and professional advocacy agencies will charge you for their services on a contingency basis. This is the practice of an attorney or advocate collecting a fee once the SSA has awarded you benefits. It is not necessary to pay an advocate or attorney an initial fee or retainer. The SSA governs the fees an attorney or advocate may charge per case on both a percentage and maximum amount of the accrued benefits awarded to you. From the date you became disabled to the date you are awarded benefits, you will be retroactively paid for this time period. This is what is defined as accrued benefits.

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