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Q. My health has gotten so bad that I can no longer work. I applied for Social Security Disability but was denied. I am going to appeal, but I am wondering when, or if, I should hire a lawyer.

A. I strongly recommend that you hire a local lawyer who has significant experience in handling Social Security Disability cases, and that you do that now. A good Social Security Disability lawyer will meet with you, or at least talk with you, early in the process. Because of Covid-19, that initial consultation may need to be over the phone. A good lawyer will listen to you, learn about the conditions and limitations you have, and then talk with you about obtaining and developing evidence that can help prove your case. After helping you secure and submit evidence for the hearing, he or she will prepare you ahead of time for the actual hearing. He or she will examine and cross-examine the witnesses at the hearing. You do not want to wait til the last minute to hire a lawyer. There unfortunately are now a lot of sketchy companies and firms advertising on TV that claim to help people applying for disability. Many of these companies refuse to actually talk with their clients until the morning of the hearing. Some of these companies outsource their job by hiring non-lawyers for you at the last minute who show up at the hearing unprepared. Many of these cases are poorly prepared and benefits are denied. Don’t just call the first number you see in an infomercial. Do the research, and pick a top-rated Social Security Disability lawyer in your local area, who is willing to personally talk with you in person ahead of time, and willing to take the time to prepare your case properly for the hearing.

–Robert J. MacDonald (July 2018)(updated Jan 2021)