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"Should I hire a lawyer?"

Updated: Feb 22, 2018

Today, I received a pretty common inquiry from a person who has filed an application for both SSI and SSDI disability benefits, Here is how I responded: To answer your question,  as with so much in life, there are both pro's and con's.  I will start with the pro's: personally, I always like to be involved as early in the process as possible to ensure that things go as smoothly as possible.  There are a lot of forms that Social Security will be asking you to complete and in a case such as yours where you are applying for both SSI and SSDI, sometimes they will duplicate their requests to you.  Also,  I always assume that it will be necessary to take the matter all the way to a hearing so by working the case up from the beginning, I can help to lay a strong evidentiary foundation to present to a judge.  Lastly,  statistically represented claimants are more likely to be awarded their benefits then non-represented claimants.  The cons are that if you retain an attorney to represent you and you are awarded benefits, then Social Security will pay the attorney a portion of any back-benefit amount you are entitled to as the lawyer's fee for representing you. Most attorneys, including myself, use a standard fee agreement in which the lawyer is paid the lesser amount of either $6000.00 or 25% of the total back-payment amount. For example, lets say that you are awarded $10,000 in back-benefits.  Social Security will deduct $2500 to pay the lawyer and pay you the balance of $7500 because $2500 is less than $6000. If, on the other hand, you were to be awarded $40,000 in back-benefits, than Social Security will deduct $6000 to pay the lawyer and pay you the balance of $34,000 because the attorney's fee is capped at $6000.00 even though 25% of $40,000 would be $10,000. The attorney's fee award will only be paid out of any back-benefit amount owed to you - it is never taken from cash payments going forward.  Sometimes, claimants like to see if their initial application is approved on their own to avoid having to pay a lawyer's fee and then retain an attorney if their initial application is denied.  Other folks prefer to retain an attorney from the "get-go" to walk them through the process.   I hope that helps to answer your question.  If you have further questions,  please feel free to contact me at your convenience.  Yours truly,  Mike Kalish 

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