Having an attorney or advocate represent you during the Social Security disability application and appeals process might speed up the process. While there is no fast-track for individuals who are represented by professionals, attorneys and advocates know a few things that might be able to get a decision on your claim faster.
The fastest way to receive benefits is to get an approval from Social Security based on your original application for disability benefits (rather than having to appeal the decision, which can take more than a year). When you have an attorney or disability advocate's expertise in knowing what Social Security is looking for, you have a better chance of winning benefits during the initial application process.
If you can find an expert to represent you at this stage, the lawyer or advocate can:
Without help, applicants often make mistakes that are hard to correct, from overestimating what they can still do to overstating past job skills.
An attorney or advocate, however, will likely only take your case at this early stage if they think you have a good chance of winning.
If your original application is denied, the next fastest way to receive benefits is to have an "on the record" (OTR) decision. An attorney who specializes in Social Security disability can:
If the OTR decision is denied, or you don't file one, you can request that your case be sent to a hearing. If you're applying for SSI and you're in financial straits, an attorney can write a "dire need letter" for you, which can get your hearing date scheduled sooner.
At the hearing in front of an administrative law judge (ALJ), a disability attorney can improve your chances of winning the appeal, rather than having to go on to appeal to the Appeals Council. A disability lawyer can:
Learn more about how a disability lawyer can help you win your disability appeal.
While there are few magic ways to speed up your Social Security disability application, an attorney or advocate can help increase your likelihood of being approved for benefits at each stage, which means less time waiting to receive your benefits.
Government studies actually show that disability applicants who have expert help double their chances of getting benefits. (GAO Report 18-37.)
Attorneys and advocates collect a one-time fee, only if you win benefits, and it can't be any more than 25% of the backpay you receive from Social Security. According to a survey we took of our readers, the average fee that Social Security paid to disability lawyers was $3,750. For many people, it's worth using part of their backpay to help ensure they get benefits, and in a timely way.
Updated January 11, 2022