Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) provides financial support for people with disabilities. These benefits are particularly important when a person is unable to maintain employment due to health challenges. However, applying for SSDI benefits can feel like you’re constantly jumping through hoops in hopes of getting coverage. The eligibility criteria are strict, the process is rigorous, and applications are often denied. An SSDI lawyer provides legal expertise to help people with disabilities secure SSDI claims. They may help with the application process or help you appeal a denial. While having an SSDI lawyer can make the process less stressful and complex, it doesn’t guarantee that you’ll receive SSDI benefits.

In this article, we’ll discuss what the benefits of having an SSDI lawyer are and how much an SSDI lawyer can cost. 

Key takeaways:

  • An SSDI lawyer helps people who need Social Security Disability Insurance complete the lengthy application process, appeal a denial for a claim, and increase the likelihood of approval for benefits.

  • Hiring an SSDI lawyer is especially beneficial for those who need the representation after a denied claim and for those who need help gathering the necessary documentation.

  • You pay SSDI lawyer fees with your past-due benefits if the claim is approved. The government also has a $7,200 fee cap for how much lawyers can get paid.

Understanding SSDI benefits

Before we get into the nuances of having an SSDI lawyer, it’s helpful to understand how SSDI and the claims process work.

Definition of SSDI and eligibility 

Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) is a government program designed to provide financial assistance to people with disabilities who aren’t able to work. To qualify for SSDI benefits, you have to meet specific eligibility requirements. These requirements include a recent work history and a medical condition that’s expected to last at least one year or result in death.

Applying for SSDI is a complex and time-consuming process that usually takes three to five months to get approval. It can take even longer if the application is incomplete or denied.

Common reasons for denied claims

The Social Security Administration has rigid standards for who meets the eligibility requirements for SSDI. Documentation is one of the key components of an SSDI claim, and unfortunately the documentation process can be complicated. Proper documentation includes comprehensive medical records, evidence of a disability's impact on your ability to work, and proof of a work history that shows sufficient work credits

If you have incomplete documentation, insufficient medical evidence, and/or insufficient evidence of work history, your SSDI claim will be denied. Application denials and the complex documentation requirements are two reasons that people choose to hire SSDI lawyers. 

Benefits of hiring an SSDI lawyer

There are a couple different reasons why you would want to hire an SSDI lawyer, including help with:

  • Legal guidance

  • Evaluating the strength of your case

  • Gathering documentation

  • The application

  • Application denials. 

SSDI lawyers have expertise in SSDI laws and regulations

Hiring a lawyer for SSDI benefits is helpful because the laws and regulations around disability insurance are complex. An SSDI lawyer can ensure that your application upholds any legal requirements and can assist you with the standards set by the Social Security Administration. 

SSDI lawyers can assess the strength of a claim

Because SSDI lawyers have experience with claims that have and have not been approved, they can help you assess the strength of your case. If there isn’t enough evidence to prove your SSDI claim, a lawyer can identify areas where you need more documentation to reinforce your case. 

SSDI lawyers can help with the documentation and application process

One of the lawyer's primary roles is to gather the necessary evidence and documentation to support the SSDI claim. This involves going over your medical records, work history, and any other relevant documentation required by Social Security in great detail.

SSDI lawyers provide legal representation

If the Social Security Administration denies your claim and you want to make an appeal, an SSDI lawyer can help a lot. You’ll need a representative during appeals, hearings, and legal expertise is often vital for preparing for a successful case.

How much does an SSDI lawyer cost?

There are two payment limitations set on SSDI lawyers to prevent them from taking advantage. First, if an SSDI lawyer is unable to get your application accepted, you won’t owe them for legal services. This prevents SSDI lawyers from taking advantage of cases that are unlikely to result in approval. The government also sets a $7,200 cap on how much SSDI lawyers can charge for legal services. You can learn more about how payment works and what your costs may be below.

Contingency fees and past-due benefits:

SSDI lawyers only receive payment if your claim is approved. This is called a contingency and can provide peace-of-mind for those who would be unable to pay for legal services without securing SSDI benefits at the end of the process. Once your application is accepted, legal fees are deducted from your past-due benefits (also called back pay). This means that you’ll pay your lawyer a portion of the benefits you receive from the months between when you were no longer able to work due to disability and when your disability application is accepted.

Fee caps by the government:

Another good thing about paying SSDI lawyers is that the government sets limits on how much they can charge. Lawyers may receive up to 25% of the client's past-due benefits or $7,200, whichever is lower. This fee is regulated to prevent excessive charges. 

As an example, if you claimed $21,000 in past-due benefits with the help of a lawyer, they’ll receive up to 25% of that amount. You’d collect $15,750 and your lawyer would receive $5,250. However, if your past-due benefits amount to $38,000, your lawyer would get $7,200 rather than 25% (which would be $9,500) because of the cap. You would get the remaining $30,800.

Out-of-pocket fees:

While contingency fees cover legal services, SSDI lawyers may charge for out-of-pocket costs. These costs could include expenses for requesting medical records or travel mileage related to the case.

How long does it take to receive benefits with an SSDI lawyer?

The SSDI application and approval process generally takes between three and five months. The process can be much longer if you have a complex case, you don’t have all the proper documentation, or your application is denied. An SSDI lawyer can help keep the process short by ensuring you have a strong case and all the proper application requirements. 

When do you not need an SSDI lawyer?

There are a few circumstances where you wouldn’t need an SSDI lawyer:

  • If you have a more serious health condition or terminal illness, you can receive a Compassionate Allowance. This accelerates your application so you can start receiving benefits quicker.

  • If you have easy-to-access documents and an organized recorded history of all your medical and work materials, you may have a less complicated case. This would make it easier to submit the application yourself. 

  • If you’ve already submitted your application and you’re waiting to hear back from the Social Security Administration about your benefits, you won’t need a lawyer unless you hear that your claim has been denied.

An SSDI lawyer does not guarantee approval

There are pros and cons of hiring an SSDI lawyer depending on your situation. An SSDI lawyer can increase your chances of getting your application approved, but there is no guarantee that you’ll get benefits. Assess your financial and medical situation before you decide to hire an SSDI lawyer so you can ensure the best outcome.

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