If you are thinking about applying for Social Security Disability or Supplemental Security Income benefits, you may not need to hire an attorney right away. In fact, I almost always recommend against hiring an attorney until someone receives a formal denial on his or her initial application for benefits.
Applying for Social Security benefits is a relatively simple process. It can be done online at www.ssa.gov. You can also file a written application at your local Social Security office. The Social Security Disability application is very straightforward. It contains simple questions, asks for information regarding medical treatment, work history and functional capacity. Frankly, most people do not need an attorney to submit their application. An attorney will likely require that you enter into a retainer agreement wherein he or she will receive 25% of any past due benefits up to a maximum amount. Why pay an attorney what can turn out to be a substantial amount of your past due benefit when you can easily complete the application on your own?
However, if you receive a denial from Social Security, it is strongly recommended that you secure an attorney to represent you in the appeals process. Approximately 80% of applicants are denied. Upon receipt of your denial you should contact an attorney immediately as there are strict filing deadlines. You have only 60 days from the date of your denial to request a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge. In order to do so, various documents need to be completed and submitted. An experienced Social Security attorney will handle the entire appeals process for you and put you in the best possible position to receive a favorable decision at the hearing level.