Finding a Local Disability Lawyer or Advocate

Learn the best ways to go about searching for a Social Security disability expert and finding the best one for your case.

By , J.D. · Albany Law School

If you become disabled and need the help of a lawyer or disability advocate to help you apply for Social Security disability—or appeal a disability denial—finding someone you feel comfortable with can feel overwhelming. Not only do you need to locate possible representatives that you could hire, but you'll also need to meet, or at least talk to, one or two representatives to find one who's a good match for you.

This article will cover where to find qualified disability lawyers and advocates and how to choose the right one to help you with your Social Security disability claim.

Where to Find a Social Security Disability Lawyer

The first step in the process of getting legal help with your Social Security disability claim is finding qualified representatives who can handle your case. There are many resources you can use to find a lawyer or advocate, including the following.

Ask a Lawyer to Refer You to a Disability Specialist

If you have an existing relationship with a lawyer, you can ask that lawyer for a reference to another attorney who has experience with Social Security disability law. Lawyers are generally careful when giving referrals, because if you have a bad experience with the recommended lawyer, it could harm both lawyers' reputations.

Ask Family and Friends About Disability Lawyers They Know

Someone you know and trust might have experience with disability lawyers or advocates without your awareness. A family member or friend might know a disability lawyer through a friendship or work relationship. If you can find a family member or a friend to recommend someone they trust, it can help you to feel at ease with that lawyer.

Get a Free Consultation With a Disability Advocacy Firm

Setting up a free consultation is probably the quickest way to find a lawyer and figure out if you qualify for disability benefits. You'll just need to enter your zip code and answer a few questions about your situation. Our partner, Premier Disability Services, will contact you to arrange a free consultation to see if one of their lawyers can help you win your case.

Check Your Local Bar Association's Directory

Every state and county has a Bar Association, which is an organization made up of those in the legal profession. The Bar Association provides services and support to lawyers and to anyone needing a lawyer.

Generally, there is a section on the Bar Association website where you can search for lawyers by their areas of practice. Keep in mind that the lawyers recommended are members of the Bar Association, and the referrals generally aren't based on personal knowledge of the lawyer and their abilities.

Use the Free Directories at and and are two websites that are part of the Nolo family and provide free lawyer directories. These directories allow you to search by location and area of law and list detailed information about lawyers. You can visit the "find a lawyer" pages at or to learn more.

Ask Someone Who's Been Through the Disability Process

When you're injured or recovering from an illness, you might meet other disabled individuals during treatment or rehabilitation sessions at places like:

  • physical rehabilitation centers
  • hospitals
  • work or work training
  • living situations, and
  • other places of service.

When you ask someone who's been through the disability process before, you can learn about that person's first-hand experience working with a particular lawyer, disability firm, or disability advocate. You can get helpful, objective information by asking:

  • Was the representative helpful in answering your questions and explaining things?
  • Did the representative get back to you in a reasonable amount of time when you left a message?
  • Did the representative follow through on the deadlines and commitments they made to you?

Choosing Your Disability Lawyer or Representative

Once you have the names of some lawyers or advocates who could help with your disability claim, you'll want to talk with each of them before choosing one. Set up appointments to meet with them. Generally, representatives will agree to a phone call with you for free to speak with you about your claim and to decide if they're able to take your case. But first, you may need to talk to staff members, who will ask you basic questions about your eligibility for benefits.

You'll want to ask about the lawyer's experience with Social Security disability cases and with cases like yours. Below are some things you should look for when hiring a disability lawyer or advocate.

  • You should feel comfortable speaking with the person. You should be able to be open and honest with the lawyer or advocate. You'll need to review your medical history and physical or mental problems. Your disability might be hard to talk about, but it's essential that your representative has all your information.
  • You shouldn't feel like you're being judged for things you have or haven't done. If you feel like you're being judged, you might unintentionally withhold information. But your lawyer will need to know all your information to properly prepare your case and give you the best chance at winning your disability claim.
  • You should feel like you're being heard and understood by the representative. You shouldn't feel rushed or like your case isn't a priority for the representative. (But don't be surprised if the law firm sets a time limit on your free consultation.)
  • You should feel that you can trust the representative. The lawyer or advocate you choose will play an essential part in your Social Security disability process, and you need to be able to work together well.

Learn more about what to discuss and the questions you should ask when you sit down with a disability lawyer for a free consultation.

As you go through the process of finding a disability representative, it's important to understand the role of a disability lawyer. Your lawyer's job isn't to tell you what you want to hear. Instead, your lawyer's there to provide you with a realistic view of the pros and cons of your claim and to use their knowledge and skill set to help you to get Social Security disability benefits, if possible.

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