Once you have received a denial or filed for an appeal/request for hearing, you should decide whether or not you want to be represented by an attorney. Social Security cases allow you to proceed pro-se, meaning you are representing yourself, but for many, hiring an attorney is a good idea.
While you are waiting for a hearing judge, the Social Security Administration will collect medical records, work history, and other pertinent information. Hiring an attorney assures that your file is filled with up to date information and exams from doctors. In addition, many attorneys have their own forms that the doctors can fill out that will help your case.
Having an attorney will also help prepare you for the hearing. They are many times familiar with the judges, and even if that is not the case, they can prepare you beforehand with the type of questions you may encounter and they can have questions prepared if there are expert witnesses.
Social Security attorneys usually are paid based on a contingency fee. This means that if they win the case, they take a portion of the back pay that the Social Security Administration would have paid you. This is helpful to know that you will not need to pay the attorney on an hourly rate. If you fall below a certain income bracket, there are Social Security attorneys that will do the case either pro-bono or are salaried at a civil legal services organization, meaning that you, as the client, will not have to pay anything, even if the attorney wins you the case.
If you decide to hire an attorney, be sure to do so sooner rather than later, so that they have time to gather your records and prepare your case. Continue reading the next post to find out what happens when you finally get to your hearing day.