What do Social Security Attorneys do?

Barbara R. Cochran
Barbara R. Cochran
Legal library.
Legal library.

In the United States, Social Security is a government program that provides financial support to people who are over a designated "retirement age" or who are disabled. While retirement Social Security is a relatively straightforward process, qualifying for disability benefits can be more complicated. Social Security attorneys assist people who have applied for disability benefits and have been denied.

A Social Security benefits application.
A Social Security benefits application.

People who are younger than retirement age, and who can prove they have a disabling physical or mental condition that makes making it impossible for them to participate in substantially gainful work activity, may be eligible to collect Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI). A monthly SSDI payment is dependent on the amount of income a disabled person earned while he or she was gainfully employed. There must be documented evidence that they have amassed enough work credits. Disabled persons who do not have enough work credits to qualify for SSDI payments are sometimes eligible for a fixed amount of Supplemental Security Income (SSI).

The average person who seeks out disability payments usually has limited knowledge of Social Security’s criteria for eligibility. In effect, even if knowledgeable Social Security attorneys assist disabled persons the first time they apply for benefits, they will be denied 70% to 75% of the time. If denied claimants employ Social Security attorneys to accompany them to hearings for appeals before an administrative law judge, they have about a 66% chance of having their claims finally approved. Without the assistance of Social Security attorneys, the chances of disabled people having their claims approved, at any point, are usually substantially lower.

Winning a Social Security disability claim is very important. The majority of disabled people need to be approved so they will have some basic financial support. When disabled persons are able to collect SSDI or SSI because of intervention by Social Security attorneys, it is less likely they will end up homeless. Also, after being approved for benefits, they may be able to take advantage of Medicaid and Medicare, if the disability persists. Those insurance programs help pay for the medical care and prescriptions their disabilities require.

Social Security attorneys typically confer with clients' doctors, and sometimes with other providers of services related to clients' claims. Attorneys who thoroughly familiarize themselves with the clients' alleged disabilities will have a better understanding of what exactly they need to do. Accordingly, they will be able to present highly informed arguments to the administrative law judge at disability hearings.

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Discussion Comments


@Terrificli -- I will agree that the system does need some reform as will most people who have taken a hard look at the Social Security Disability system. There are people who advocate very deep cuts in that system, but the fact is it helps a lot of people who need it. We don't need to cut into the system so deep that people who need help are hurt.


Ah, good old Social Security disability. Perhaps the most abused system in the country. I have personally known someone who was on disability because he couldn't read, someone else who managed to get on disability somehow because she had too many kids and daycare was expensive and other situations that ought to make working folks furious.

Yes, I do know that Social Security disability benefits have their place and that disability lawyers are necessary for some people, but the way that system is taken advantage of by some people is downright shocking.

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