how to get a free lawyer for a disability hearing

by Finn Sauer DVM 5 min read

If you'd like a free consultation, you can sign up for a free case evaluation with our partner, Premier Disability Services. Premier provides disability experts who can help you fill out your application, gather medical information, and meet Social Security's deadlines. If your case goes to a hearing, they'll also provide a lawyer in your area.

Full Answer

Do I need a lawyer for a Social Security disability hearing?

Do I Need a Disability Attorney at a Hearing? It is not required to have an attorney for your disability hearing. However, having an attorney will help to ensure that you are given a fair hearing. A lawyer will make sure that all the right questions are asked at the hearing.

Where can I find a disability lawyer?

You can find your local legal aid office in this directory from Legal Services Corporation. If you live near a law school, you could call them to see if they have a disability "clinic" where law students represent disability claimants, although you won't get the benefit of an experienced disability lawyer.

Should I hire a disability lawyer or disability advocate?

When retaining the services of a disability lawyer or advocate, you absolutely must ask the right questions. The last thing you want to do is hire an advocate or attorney, only to find out that the professional you have chosen is not all that you had hoped for.

What to expect during a free consultation with a disability lawyer?

The consultation is your chance to discuss the facts of your case with a legal professional who understands the disability process. Free consultations can take place on the phone or in person, and usually last from 30 minutes to an hour. Here's what to expect during your free consultation with a disability lawyer.


What is the monthly amount for Social Security disability?

SSDI payments range on average between $800 and $1,800 per month. The maximum benefit you could receive in 2020 is $3,011 per month. The SSA has an online benefits calculator that you can use to obtain an estimate of your monthly benefits.

Can you be disqualified from Social Security?

You Earn Too Much Income For SSDI, which is the benefit program for workers who have paid into the Social Security system over multiple years, one of the most basic reasons you could be denied benefits is that, when you apply, you are working above the limit where it is considered "substantial gainful activity" (SGA).

What is the difference between SSI and SSDI?

The major difference is that SSI determination is based on age/disability and limited income and resources, whereas SSDI determination is based on disability and work credits. In addition, in most states, an SSI recipient will automatically qualify for health care coverage through Medicaid.

Can you call Social Security on behalf of someone else?

You can choose an attorney or other qualified individual(s) to represent you. However, you can't have someone who, by law, can't act as a representative or who we previously suspended or disqualified from representing others. Some organizations can help you find a representative or give you free legal services.

What is the most approved disability?

1. Arthritis. Arthritis and other musculoskeletal disabilities are the most commonly approved conditions for disability benefits. If you are unable to walk due to arthritis, or unable to perform dexterous movements like typing or writing, you will qualify.

What should you not say in a disability interview?

Making Statements That Can Hurt Your Claim – Unless you are specifically asked pertinent questions, do not talk about alcohol or drug use, criminal history, family members getting disability or unemployment, or similar topics. However, if you are asked directly about any of those topics, answer them truthfully.

What conditions automatically qualify you for disability?

What Conditions Automatically Qualify You for Disability?Musculoskeletal disorders (e.g., bone, joint injuries, skeletal spine injuries)Special senses and speech (e.g., visual disorders, blindness)Respiratory disorders (e.g., chronic bronchitis, emphysema, asthma)More items...

What are 4 hidden disabilities?

The four most common types of hidden disabilities are:Autoimmune Diseases. In most people, the body's immune system protects them from invaders like bacteria and viruses. ... Mental Health Conditions. ... Neurological Disorders. ... Chronic Pain and Fatigue Disorders.

Which pays more Social Security or disability?

In general, SSDI pays more than SSI. Based on data from 2020: The average SSDI payment is $1,258 per month. The average SSI payment is $575 per month.

Can a payee go to jail?

Payees are required to spend the beneficiary's money only on the payee's medical needs and personal expenditures. If a representative is caught misusing a beneficiary's funds, he or she will not only have to repay the beneficiary, but also face fines and even imprisonment if found guilty.

What is a 1699?

Social Security Online - SSA-1699 Registration of Individuals and Staff for Appointed Representative Services.

Does Social Security make home visits?

Generally, we use the mail or call you on the phone when we want to contact you, but sometimes a Social Security representative may come to your home. Our representative will show you identification before talking about your benefits.

What is a Nolo lawyer?

Nolo, the premier plain-English legal website, offers a unique directory of disability lawyers that provides a comprehensive profile for each attorney with information that will help you select the right attorney. The profiles tell you about the lawyer's disability experience, education, and fees, and perhaps most importantly, the lawyer's general philosophy of practicing law. Nolo has confirmed that every listed attorney has a valid license and is in good standing with their bar association. Every attorney has taken a pledge to communicate regularly with you, provide an estimate of the time and cost involved, and provide you with a clear, fair, written fee agreement that spells out how they will handle your legal matter and how you will be charged.

Do lawyers represent Social Security?

First and foremost, ask if the lawyer has experience in winning disability claims for your medical condition. Typically, most lawyers who represent Social Security disability applicants are fairly busy, due to the large number of disability claims moving through the system.

Does Nolo have a valid license?

The profiles tell you about the lawyer's disability experience, education, and fees, and perhaps most importantly, the lawyer's general philosophy of practicing law. Nolo has confirmed that every listed attorney has a valid license and is in good standing with their bar association.

What happens if you don't have a lawyer at a disability hearing?

If you don’t have legal representation at the hearing, the judge won’t expect you to act like an attorney. They will walk you through the process. You also won’t be expected to know medical terms like a doctor. Instead, the questions will largely focus on your personal experience and how your disability affects your capacity to do things.

What to do if SSA denies claim?

First is filing a written request for reconsideration. If the SSA still denies your claim, you will need to go to an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) hearing. If after the hearing your claim still got denied, you can go to the Appeals Council who has the final say.

How long does it take to get a hearing with the ALJ?

Like the request for reconsideration, you only have 60 days to request a hearing with the ALJ. You can submit the request online or print the forms (Form SSA-3441, Form SSA-827, Form HA-501) and bring it to the SSA office nearest you. They also accept applications by phone. Just contact your local SSA office.

How long does it take to get a reconsideration from the SSA?

When filing for reconsideration, the first thing you need to do is make sure you file your request promptly. The SSA only gives you 60 days to file a request for reconsideration. If you fail to do so, you will have to start the application process all over again.

How long does it take to get notified of an ALJ decision?

You will be notified of the ALJ’s decision within a few months after the hearing. If your claim is denied, you can take your case before the Appeals Council.

What happens if you are denied a disability?

If you get denied, you won’t have to pay anything. It’s essentially a win-win situation. But if you’re confident that you can win your case yourself, here are some tips and tricks to ace the disability appeals process.

What is a vocational expert hearing?

Most hearings will also have a “vocational expert”. They are people who review your records and recommend jobs that you can still do.

Who oversees the hearing on SSDI?

The Judge oversees the hearing, determines how it is conducted, and makes the final decision on your SSDI or SSI claim.

What does an ALJ do at an SSDI hearing?

The SSDI or SSI hearing will usually start with the ALJ giving a short introduction of the case and admitting the case file as evidence. The ALJ will then either start the questioning himself or ask the claimants lawyer or representative to start the questioning. In the next paragraph I will give examples of frequently asked questions and in some cases explain why you are being asked those questions.

What happens during a Social Security hearing?

Many claimants will become very upset and often cry during the hearing. This is normal and is a result of having to talk about how much your life has been impacted by your condition (s). I hope that by reading this page on the Social Security hearing process you will at-least have some idea of what you can expect and perhaps relieve some of your anxiety over this difficult task.

What to say after questioning on Social Security?

After the questioning is over your lawyer may make a closing statement to sum up your case. This is sometimes done with a brief. The Administrative Law Judge may also ask if you have anything else to say. Resist the urge to comment on how long this has taken and all the problems there is with Social Security. Most ALJs are aware of these things and saying it will not help your case.

Can a hearing reporter take part in a hearing?

The hearing reporter will not take part their job is to make sure the entire hearing is audio recorded. Your lawyer or representative will present your case and can question any witness including the vocational and medical expert. The vocational expert if present is there to give his expert opinion on work factors in you Social Security claim.

Can an ALJ find a testimony credible?

If your testimony is consistent with your medical conditions and RFCs then the more probable the ALJ will find your testimony to be credible. Be warned if you exaggerate your conditions most ALJs will know and probably not find you disabled. There will also be a series of questions about your daily activities.

What does a lawyer do for disability?

Your lawyer will gather all your medical records from all your providers and help compile your file in a maneuverable manner so Disability Determination Services can see that you are unable to work.

What to ask when meeting with a disability lawyer?

The first thing you need to ask when you meet with the lawyer or advocate you are interested in working with is how accessible they will be. Many Social Security Disability attorneys and advocates handle a large volume of cases.

What happens to the disability applicants who receive a denial of their claim for Social Security Disability?

What happens to the disability applicants who receive a denial of their claim for Social Security Disability benefits? If they have any hope of receiving disability benefits in the future, they must appeal the SSA's decision to deny their application for disability benefits.

What is contingency basis for disability?

Disability attorneys and advocates take cases on the contingency basis. This means that your advocate or lawyer isn’t paid until your claim is approved and you get disability benefits.

How long does a disability last?

To receive disability, the condition must be expected to last a year or longer or it must be expected to culminate in your death. Disability claims can be complicated, and the odds of having a claim approved aren’t always in the favor of the disabled worker. Those who have a disability advocate or a Social Security Disability attorney representing ...

How long do you have to work with a disability advocate?

You need to be able to get along with the Social Security disability advocate or lawyer you work with. This professional may be working with you for a year or more depending on how far you have to appeal your Social Security Disability case. If you are working with a lawyer or advocate who is rude or abrasive or does not respect your feelings, it will make things complicated.

What to do if you are unable to work?

If you are unable to work and are seeking disability benefits, there are many ways that a lawyer can help your claim. First off, the key to a successful case is hard medical evidence and other supporting documentation that proves your condition is so limiting you are unable to work.

How long does it take to get a disability hearing?

Usually, this part of the disability benefits application process takes the longest. Some claimants must wait upwards of two years in some states to get a hearing.

What to expect at a disability hearing?

Questions to Expect During Your Disability Hearing. The disability hearing usually intimidates claimants, especially if they decide to represent themselves. At your hearing, the judge will hear testimony from a vocational expert (VE) hired by the SSA.

How long do you have to appeal a disability claim?

If the SSA denies your initial application for benefits, you need to submit an appeal 60 days after your denial. You can do this online or through the mail. During your appeal, the Social Security office lets a different examiner review your application. If this examiner determines that the first reviewer made a mistake, they approve your appeal. Applications denied in this step must apply for a disability hearing to argue their case in front of a judge.

What to do if SSA denies SSDI?

If the SSA denies your application for either Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI), you must submit a request for reconsideration. You might also need to attend a disability hearing with an administrative law judge.

What is disability advocate?

However, representing yourself during a disability hearing might be intimidating. An experienced disability advocate helps improve your chances of winning your claim. Advocates have specialized knowledge of Social Security’s rules and regulations for benefits. If you need to appeal your disability application, our advocates know how to help.

What to do if you don't get approved for disability?

If you don’t get approved for disability benefits, you owe us nothing. If you would like to apply for SSI or SSDI benefits with an advocate, call us 201-720-1434 or fill out our online form for a free evaluation of your claim.

What happens if the SSAC denies your claim?

After this review, if the SSAC denies your claim, you have the option to file a lawsuit in U.S. District Court. However, very few claims ever make it this far.

What happens if you don't have an attorney?

If the judge decides to allow you to proceed without an attorney, he or she will have you sign a “waiver of the right to representation.”

What happens if you tell the judge you changed your mind?

If you tell the judge that you have changed your mind, he or she will usually postpone the hearing so you have time to find a lawyer. In this case, you will be asked to sign an “acknowledgement of postponement in order to obtain representation.”