Find the Best Lawyers for Social Security Disability Help

Social Security disability benefits provide a lifeline for millions of Americans unable to work due to an injury, illness, or disability. However, navigating the Social Security Administration’s stringent eligibility requirements and appeals process can be extremely challenging without professional legal guidance. This article will provide an in-depth look at Social Security Disability and offer tips on finding the most qualified legal advocate to assist you.

We’ll start by understanding what exactly Social Security Disability is, who’s eligible for benefits, and reasons claims get denied initially. Then we’ll explore whether denied claims can be reconsidered and what to expect at a disability hearing. Finally, we’ll discuss the benefits of having a disability lawyer on your side and offer advice on choosing the best attorney for your situation.

Keep reading to gain the knowledge needed to successfully navigate Social Security Disability and come out with an approved claim and the essential benefits you deserve.

Understanding Social Security Disability

Social Security Disability refers to two federal disability programs run by the Social Security Administration (SSA) for individuals unable to engage in “substantial gainful activity” due to a severe physical or mental impairment expected to last at least one year or result in death.

The two main disability programs are:

  • Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI): An insurance program funded by payroll taxes that provides benefits to disabled individuals who have worked long enough to qualify. Your work history is used to determine your benefit amount.
  • Supplemental Security Income (SSI): A needs-based program for disabled adults and children with limited income and resources. SSI benefits are not based on your prior work history.

While the two programs have different eligibility requirements related to your work history and finances, they share a strict definition of disability. For adults filing a new claim, SSA requires:

  • You cannot engage in work activity at levels defined as “substantial gainful activity” due to your disability
  • Your disability must be expected to last at least 12 months or result in death
  • You must meet Social Security’s severity criteria with medical proof of an impairment that significantly impacts your ability to work

In essence, Social Security Disability provides essential income replacement for those whose disabilities prevent them from earning a living wage. But qualifying for benefits can be challenging.

Understanding Social Security Disability

Eligibility Criteria for Social Security Disability

To receive disability benefits under SSDI or SSI, you must:

  • Have a medical condition that meets Social Security’s strict definition of disability
  • Be unable to work and earn significant income due to your medical condition
  • Meet the work history requirements for SSDI or the income limits for SSI

Medical Criteria

Social Security maintains a listing of impairments that automatically qualify as disabilities. To meet Social Security’s definition of disability your condition must:

  • Match an impairment on the Social Security “Blue Book” listing of disabilities OR
  • Be of equal severity and impact on your ability to work

Your disability must be well documented with medical reports, test results, and treatment history. Ongoing medical care in line with your diagnosis will also be considered.

Substantial Gainful Activity and Work History

  • SSDI Eligibility: You must have worked at least 5 of the past 10 years in jobs covered by Social Security AND have disability insured status in the calendar quarter you became disabled.
  • SSI Eligibility: You must have limited income and assets to qualify for SSI. Income from other sources will reduce your benefit amount.

Documenting how your condition prevents substantial work activity and meeting the above requirements are key to getting approved. But approval is not guaranteed – over 60% of initial SSDI and SSI applications are denied.

Common Reasons for Disability Claim Denial

There are a few main reasons why initial Social Security Disability claims are frequently denied:

  • Insufficient medical evidence supporting your reported symptoms and limitations

The SSA needs objective proof that your medical condition is disabling. Many applicants do not provide enough detailed medical evidence.

  • Failure to follow prescribed treatment

Not complying with your doctor’s medication, therapy, and other recommendations can get your claim denied. The SSA expects you to follow prescribed treatment.

  • Letting work activity or earnings exceed Substantial Gainful Activity limits

Working and earning over the SGA amount can get your claim denied even if you have medical documentation. The SSA evaluates your current work activity.

  • Having a condition that is difficult to document or does not meet SSA criteria

Conditions like chronic pain or mental illness may be disabling but hard to prove. Your documentation must satisfy SSA disability criteria.

Getting denied can be discouraging. But appealing a denial with the help of a lawyer skilled in disability cases can lead to eventual approval.

Navigating Denied Disability Claims: Can They Be Reconsidered?

Just because your initial Social Security Disability claim is denied does not mean you have no recourse. You have the right to appeal a disability claim denial, with multiple levels of appeal available. Here is the process:

  • Request for Reconsideration: You can request the SSA reconsider its decision within 60 days of your denial notice date. New medical evidence can be submitted to strengthen your case. About 15% of requests at reconsideration are approved.
  • SSDI/SSI Disability Hearing: If reconsideration fails, you can appeal to an Administrative Law Judge within 60 days. An ALJ hearing offers another chance to present your medical documentation and disability case. Approval rates at hearings are nearly 50%.
  • Appeals Council Review: If the ALJ denies your claim, you can request Appeals Council review within 60 days. The council may agree to review your case or deny the request, at which point your option is federal court.

Having your claim reevaluated buys you more time to gather medical proof or obtain representation from a disability lawyer. Each appeal offers hope for approval so don’t give up!

The Social Security Disability Hearing: What to Expect

If your Social Security Disability claim makes it to an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) hearing, it’s important to know what to expect and come prepared. Here’s a quick overview of the disability hearing process:

  • Notice and Scheduling: You will receive written notice of the hearing date, time, and location at least 75 days in advance. Hearings are held by video or in-person at your closest hearing office.
  • Pre-Hearing Preparation: Your disability lawyer will help gather medical records, solicit doctor letters, draft your testimony, and file pre-hearing briefs. You may also undergo additional medical exams scheduled by the ALJ.
  • Disability Hearing Participants: Usually includes you, your lawyer, the ALJ, vocational and medical experts who testify, and other witnesses like friends or family. A hearing may last 30-90 minutes.
  • Hearing Process: The ALJ will question you about your disability, limitations, and work history. Your lawyer will also present testimony and evidence. Witnesses can be questioned by the ALJ and your lawyer.
  • ALJ Decision: A written notice with the ALJ’s disability determination is usually provided within 1-3 months after your hearing. Approvals account for 45% of ALJ decisions.

Having knowledgeable counsel by your side helps maximize your chances of success at a hearing and eases some stress of the court-like legal process.

Do You Need a Social Security Disability Lawyer?

Navigating Social Security Disability on your own can be extremely difficult, especially if your claim is denied initially. An experienced Social Security Disability lawyer is invaluable for several reasons:

  • Higher Chances of Approval: Disability claims with lawyer representation win approval up to 3 times more often than unrepresented claims.
  • Expertise with Complex Laws and Regulations: Disability law involves dense government rules that are hard for non-experts to grasp and argue. Qualified lawyers are authorities on disability legislation.
  • Skills Handling Bureaucracy: Lawyers excel at obtaining medical records, communicating with the SSA, meeting rigid deadlines, and moving your case forward through the system.
  • Legal Advocacy at the Hearing: Disability attorneys are well-versed in presenting persuasive and legally sound arguments before an ALJ to prove your case. Without one, you must make the case yourself.
  • Payment After Approval: Disability lawyers work on contingency, meaning legal fees only come from a portion of your back pay upon winning benefits – so no upfront costs.

Having an attorney invested in fighting for your best interests can relieve much uncertainty when dealing with the Social Security Administration. Their expertise is invaluable.

How to Choose the Best Lawyer for Social Security Disability

Not all attorneys are equal when it comes to Social Security Disability. Choosing the right legal representative is key. Look for these qualities:

  • Extensive SSD Experience: Find a lawyer who specializes specifically in Social Security Disability instead of a general practice attorney. You want someone well-versed in disability law.
  • High Case Approval Rate: Ask about the lawyer’s hearing approval rate. The national average is around 45-50%. Above that indicates successful experience.
  • Strong Record on Appeals: The best lawyers succeed even with difficultdenied cases and have a high Appeals Council or federal court win rate.
  • No Upfront Costs: Beware any lawyer asking for retainers or payments upfront. Contingency fee agreements are standard. Fees come from your back pay.
  • Responsive Communication: Find an attorney who devotes time to answering your questions and keeps you updated on your case regularly. Lack of communication is a red flag.
  • Professional Reputation: Research online reviews and talk to disability groups to ensure the lawyer has a solid reputation and satisfied clients. Avoid any serious complaints.

Taking time to vet disability attorneys thoroughly gives you the best shot at landing equipped counsel to win your benefits.

Finding a Social Security Disability Lawyer by Location

Searching locally makes finding qualified Social Security Disability representation easier. Here are some tips for finding lawyers in your area:

  • Check Nationwide Directories: Websites like and maintain searchable national listings of disability attorneys by state and city.
  • Search State Bar Associations: Most state bars have find-a-lawyer tools you can filter by practice area and city to pinpoint local disability attorneys.
  • Lookup Law Firm Directories: Many Social Security disability law firms have online directories showing all lawyers and office locations in each state.
  • Check Local Disability Support Groups: Nearby disability non-profits and advocacy groups may provide referrals or lists of recommended local attorneys.
  • Ask Other Doctors and Specialists: Get references from doctors and therapists who likely partner with or know reputable disability lawyers.
  • Search Case Report Databases: Websites like allow you to look up detailed attorney hearing records by state and city.

Doing research tailored to your city or county makes it easy to spot trusted attorneys with convenient offices for in-person meetings.

Need Help With Social Security Disability?

The disability claims and appeals process does not have to be endured alone. Getting SSDI or SSI benefits with a chronic health condition or disability that prevents you from working can feel like an uphill battle. But the right legal guidance can even the odds and help you get approved more quickly.

Take time to understand Social Security’s strict disability criteria. Track down a compassionate and highly qualified Social Security disability lawyer in your local area. And do not give up hope. With persistence and a legal expert on your team, getting the essential benefits you deserve is within reach.

The financial and healthcare resources provided by Social Security Disability are life-changing. Your attorney will handle the complex legal challenges so you can focus on your health. Start searching for the perfect disability lawyer partner today so you can start receiving the vital support you need. You’ve got this!


Navigating Social Security Disability on your own is extremely difficult, but finding an experienced attorney to represent your claim can significantly boost your chances of winning essential benefits. Now that you understand the process and criteria, take time to research and choose the most qualified disability lawyer for your situation. Their expertise can ease the burden so you can concentrate on your health as your case works through the system. Don’t lose hope if initially denied – with the right legal guidance, getting approved for Security Disability you deserve is an attainable goal.