No, you are not required to have an attorney represent you during the Social Security disability application process or the appeals process.
You Have Choices
The Social Security Administration (SSA) does not require you to have an attorney. Instead, you have at least three options for representation. You may:
- Represent yourself. There is no requirement that you hire anyone to help you.
- Hire a Social Security disability advocate. An advocate must meet minimum requirements set forth by the SSA. An advocate must have a bachelor’s degree and must pass both a test and a criminal background check, for example. However, an advocate need not be an attorney.
- Hire a Social Security disability attorney. An attorney is a person who has met the high standards of the profession and has been admitted to the bar.
While you are not required to hire a lawyer, there are benefits to hiring an attorney.
What Are Those Benefits?
A Social Security attorney is well versed in disability law, in the SSA’s policies, and in the process of correctly and thoroughly completing an application for benefits. A lawyer can also make certain that you take the right steps, meet deadlines, and do everything legally possible to get you the support you deserve. This includes appearing before an administrative judge or going to court, if necessary, to protect your rights.
At Morgan & Weisbrod, we absolutely agree that not all people require a disability attorney and that in some cases a disability attorney is simply not necessary. We also understand, however, that we have the tools and the knowledge help those who have been wrongfully been denied disability benefits or those who have difficulty navigating the application and appeal processes alone.
For an honest evaluation of whether or not you need the assistance of a board-certified attorney, please contact our office for a confidential consultation. You can reach us via this website or by phone at your convenience.
by Paul B. Burkhalter Managing Partner of Morgan & Weisbrod, Board Certified in Social Security Disability Law.