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Can I apply for SSDI without an attorney?

The short answer is probably yes, especially if:

  • It’s your first time applying for SSDI benefits.
  • The condition causing your disability is clear.

Below are some helpful hints for first-time applicants for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits.

There are also a few warning signs that you may need to consult an attorney.

 

Filling out the application form

The initial application is an online form requiring no special training. It does ask for a lot of details that may take time and effort to locate.

Review the form, gather what you need, don’t panic and take the form step by step.

If for some reason (vision difficulties, for example) you’re unable to complete the form, you can make an appointment at a local Social Security Administration office and have someone help you.

Especially serious disabilities

Certain medical conditions automatically qualify for benefits.

If your disability is caused by one of these conditions, be sure your medical information uses the exact term used on the list.

Think about the date of onset

The date of onset of your disability matters to the amount of your benefit, but the medical records you include with your application may leave a false impression.

Medical conditions can appear slowly, and many people are reluctant to see doctors. Maybe you were misdiagnosed before your condition was properly identified. Older medical records may reveal the condition to have been with you longer than you thought.

If any of this seems true for you, consider whether an attorney might advise you about submitting a clearer application.

Consulting an attorney

Only about 33 percent of SSDI applications are eventually awarded benefits, even after appeals are considered.

The bureaucracy is good at turning you down, so your initial application should make a strong and clear case. This can be tough to achieve if:

  • This is not your first time applying.
  • You’ve been denied and are filing an appeal.
  • The date of onset is unclear and poorly documented.

In such cases, it’s probably time to get a free consultation with a knowledgeable attorney experienced in Social Security Disability claims.

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