Social Security Disability Lawyer

Social Security disability lawyers have expertise in disability claims before the Social Security Administration. A Social Security disability lawyer can help you navigate the process of applying for disability insurance through SSA and can help you appeal a decision if SSA denies your claim.

Terry Turner, writer and researcher for RetireGuide
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APA Turner, T. (2022, August 2). Social Security Disability Lawyer. Retrieved August 14, 2022, from

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What Is A Social Security Disability Lawyer?

A Social Security disability lawyer is an attorney who specializes in helping people secure disability benefits from the Social Security Administration.

Applying for and being approved for Social Security benefits can be a lengthy and complex legal process. It requires you to provide medical evidence that shows your disability meets the qualification level for Social Security benefits.

A Social Security disability lawyer is a professional who not only understands the Social Security law and administrative court process but also understands the type of medical evidence needed to secure your benefits. They can review and evaluate your case and determine the best course of action in your situation.

They may also have a background in elder law.

Social Security Disability Lawyer Responsibilities

Some Social Security disability attorneys may not help you file your initial disability claim because they tend to focus on appealing claims that Social Security denies. But they may review your initial claim and make suggestions to make it stronger.

Beyond that, Social Security disability lawyers have a long list of responsibilities and skills they can bring to your case.

What a Social Security Disability Lawyer Does
  • Reviews your initial disability claim before you file it
  • Files an appeal if Social Security denies your initial claim
  • Collects and develops medical evidence necessary to prove your case
  • Communicates with the Social Security Administration about your case
  • Determines which witnesses will best support your case
  • Provides guidance through the steps in your claim
  • Represents you at your disability hearings and helps you prep for them
  • Files additional appeals as needed and when proper

What Are Social Security Disability Benefits?

The Social Security Administration oversees two disability benefits programs — Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI). These two programs are the largest of several federal programs that help Americans with disabilities and their families.

These programs are separate from the standard Social Security benefits program most people consider as part of their retirement planning. But it can benefit you to know about them in the event you become disabled.

Social Security disability programs have very strict definitions of disability. Neither SSDI or SSI offer partial or temporary disability benefits like workers comp or veterans’ benefits do.

Only people with disabilities and who can show they meet certain medical requirements are eligible for either program.

Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI)

Social Security Disability Insurance pays benefits to people who are blind or disabled and are insured by workers’ payroll contributions to Social Security.

The contributions can be based on your earnings or on the earnings of your spouse or parents. Your dependents may also be eligible for SSDI benefits based on your earnings record.

Supplemental Security Income (SSI)

Supplemental Security Income pays cash assistance to qualified elderly, blind and disabled people — including blind and disabled children — who have limited income and resources.

SSI is funded by the federal government from general tax revenues — rather than from the Social Security Trust Funds.

Some states may also combine their supplemental benefits into the federal check that beneficiaries receive from the federal government. Other states maintain separate programs that deliver separate payments to beneficiaries.

How Much Do Social Security Disability Lawyers Cost?

The cost of hiring a Social Security Disability lawyer varies depending on the attorney you hire. You may be required to pay a retainer fee up front, but it will be based on a contingency fee, meaning if you don’t win your case, you owe the lawyer nothing.

The attorney cannot charge you any other fee other than what the court allows for services before the court.

The Social Security Administration limits the maximum amount a disability lawyer can charge. The most an attorney can charge you for a Social Security disability case is 25% of the past due benefits you are owed by SSA or $6,000 — whichever is less.

In some cases, Social Security will withhold the lawyer’s fee from the past due amount it owes you. This is typically taken out of your first disability check. Social Security will send that money to the attorney and the rest of the money to you.

In other cases — where the past due amount is not enough to cover the lawyer fee — you may have to pay your Social Security disability attorney yourself.

Is a Social Security Disability Lawyer Right for You?

You do not need an attorney to apply for Social Security disability benefits. But if your initial appeal is denied, you may want to talk to a Social Security disability lawyer before filing an appeal — especially if you don’t understand why Social Security denied your claim.

You may also want to talk to different lawyers before hiring one.

Be prepared for your meeting by bringing all medical records related to your disability and any other documents that may support your claim. This includes records of treatments, doctor’s visits, medications and other records over the past year.

What To Consider When Choosing a Social Security Disability Attorney
  • Amount of experience they have with Social Security disability cases
  • Past record on cases — though this is not an indicator of how your case may turn out
  • Whether the lawyer can explain things about your case in plain English, so you clearly understand
  • Whether you feel comfortable with the attorney

Before talking to any attorney, be sure to ask if they provide free consultations. If not, you will have to pay for your meeting with them.

Last Modified: August 2, 2022

6 Cited Research Articles

  1. U.S. Social Security Administration. (2022, May). Your Right to Representation. Retrieved from
  2. U.S. Social Security Administration. (2021, April). Disability Benefits. Retrieved from
  3. U.S. Social Security Administration. (n.d.). Apply Online for Disability Benefits. Retrieved from
  4. U.S. Social Security Administration. (n.d.). Benefits for People with Disabilities. Retrieved from
  5. U.S. Social Security Administration. (n.d.). Disability Benefits. Retrieved from
  6. U.S. Social Security Administration. (n.d.). Overview of Our Disability Programs. Retrieved from