Gardberg & Kemmerly, P.C. Attorneys at Law

Do I need an attorney to file for disability?

There are certain events for which you might contact an attorney for advice or assistance. A divorce, a lawsuit or an accusation of committing a crime are times when you generally have an attorney by your side. You may not think of seeking legal advice when you apply for Social Security Disability Insurance benefits.

Applying for disability benefits through the Social Security Administration is not the same as applying for a job or a credit card. If you have a disability and can no longer work, your financial situation may quickly become dire. The benefits for which you may qualify can help you pay your bills, obtain the medical care you need and live a life as close to normal as possible. If the benefits from SSDI are critical to your wellbeing, you may wish to consider having a legal advocate during the process.

How an attorney can help

To qualify for disability benefits, you must have an approved medical condition that will prevent you from earning a living for a year or longer, or may result in your death. This is the most general definition. The actual criteria for eligibility can be much more complex. In fact, you may have to submit thorough documentation of your medical condition, the care you are receiving and your prognosis before the SSA will approve your application for benefits. If you are struggling to get through the day, this may be an overwhelming task.

You may find a friend or relative to help you, but if you have an Alabama attorney at your side, you will also have an advocate for your rights. Some ways in which an attorney can help include the following:

  • Ensuring that your application is complete and thorough
  • Accessing any information the SSA has about you on file
  • Helping you obtain records and other documents from your doctors
  • Preparing you and your witnesses for interviews or a hearing with the SSA
  • Accompanying you at any time you must meet with an SSA agent
  • Representing you if it is necessary to appeal the agency's decision about your claim
  • Making sure you understand what is happening at each step of the process

Naturally, you may have concerns about paying for an attorney. However, the SSA has safeguards in place to protect you from someone who may try to take advantage of you. Your lawyer must obtain approval from the SSA for any fees he or she charges. In this way, you will know exactly what you will be paying and that it is a fair and reasonable amount. You may also have peace of mind knowing you have a skilled and compassionate legal advocate at your side.

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