Clients for over
thirty years with
Grand Junction 970-245-0499
Toll Free 800-870-4951
Do I need a lawyer (or a representative)?
I added the parenthetical because there are many non-attorney representatives who
represent claimants in this process. Some of these have taken a test that qualifies
them to have their fees withheld from past-due benefits as is the case with attorneys.
Some people are averse to lawyers and may prefer to use a non-attorney
representative. If you decide to use a non-attorney representative I would recommend
that you ask the person if he or she is eligible to participate in the “direct fee payment
project,” which means that the non-attorney representative has taken, and passed, the
The decision to use any kind of representation, including an attorney, is entirely up to
you. At a hearing, or in correspondence you receive from SSA prior to a hearing, SSA or
an administrative law judge (ALJ) will tell you that you have the right to seek
representation. An ALJ may strongly suggest that a claimant get representation. Even
with the strongest recommendation by a judge the decision to retain representation is
still up to you. Something to bear in mind is that an ALJ will not usually suggest that a
claimant get representation because the case is so strong that it needs no further
development or evidence.
Some judges prefer that claimants are represented by an attorney because the attorney
will attempt to ensure that the record is complete which simply means that all of the
medical evidence relevant to your claim is in the file. The attorney, for many judges,
“directs” the hearing which simply means that he or she will answer, first, a lot of
questions the claimant may have before the hearing as well as determine if witnesses
are going to be helpful to your claim.
At the hearing, an attorney can, typically, focus his or her questions on matters relevant
to your claim. He or she will also be able to cross-examine experts that the judge may
have testify at the hearing. The experts are discussed later. Attorneys who appear on a
regular basis before judges holding hearings in the area in which you live tend to be
familiar with how a particular judge conducts his or her hearings. Even if an
experienced attorney is not familiar with a specific judge, he or she can usually
determine early in the hearing how the judge conducts his or her hearings and proceed
An experienced attorney can make the most efficient use of the time you spend at your
hearing and use his or her knowledge of the process to ensure that all relevant
evidence is in your file and everything that should be said or asked is.
Social Security Disability Attorney