National Limb Loss Information Center - Easy Read Fact Sheet

Suggestions for Social Security Disability Applicants

Translated into plain language by Helen Osborne, 2006
Health Literacy Consulting,

By NLLIC Staff
Revised 2005

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What should I do if my Social Security Disability (SSD) application is denied?

  • Hire an attorney as soon as possible! After doing this, you must notify the Administration in writing as soon as possible to inform them of your choice for representation. To do this, you will need Form SSA-1696-U4, the Appointment of Representative form. This form can be attained from or from your local Social Security office.

How do I find an attorney that is familiar with SSD cases?

  • Look at the Yellow Pages of the phone book for a list of attorneys. You should look for one that takes SSD cases.
  • Contact your local or state Bar Association for names of SSD attorneys in your area.
  • Look on the Internet for attorney search pages that are searchable by city/state and specialty.

How much will an attorney cost?

Fee Agreement

  • Before the attorney can charge you for services, you and your attorney must sign and file a fee agreement with the Social Security Administration. Your attorney cannot charge you more than the amount established by the Administration.

  • If you or your attorneys do not agree upon the fee approved by the Administration, you can ask them to reconsider the fee agreement.

  • Most of the time there will be no initial cost for a qualified attorney to present your case. If you are approved for SSD, part of your legal fees will be paid to the attorney by the Social Security Administration. You will have to pay the remaining cost.

  • If you qualify for SSD, you may receive payment that covers from the date of your first application or the start of your disability. In this case, you will receive a lump sum for that period. You can pay the money owed to your attorney from this “back pay” check.

  • Attorney fees for representation in SSD cases are limited by law.

Fee Petition

  • If the Administration does not approve the fee agreement, then your attorney must file a fee petition with the Administration.

  • This petition will describe in detail each service your attorney provided. You will be given a copy of this petition for your records. If you disagree with the fee requested, you must contact the Administration within 20 days.

  • The Administration will then consider the reasonable value of your attorney’s services and will let you know, in writing, the amount they approve.

What will happen after I hire an attorney?

  • Your medical condition will be documented by your attorney.

  • Your attorney may contact all of your medical doctors and other healthcare professionals to:

    • Request copies of your medical records

    • Obtain supporting evidence to show you have a real claim.

  • Doctors charge a small fee to release medical records and information. You are responsible for paying this charge.

What else will I have to do?

  • You must document any outstanding medical bills related to your disability.

  • You must show any unpaid medical bills to your lawyer. Medicare may cover medical expenses related to the illness that lead to your disability, as well as injuries that result from the illness.

  • The judge deciding your case may have you appear in person or participate in a telephone interview to confirm your disability. This is to reduce abuse of the SSD system.

**For complete documentation, please see the original version of this fact sheet.

Back to Top Last updated: 12/31/2016

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