Do I need a lawyer to help me with a disability reconsideration (appeal)?

Learn about the benefits of retaining legal counsel when attempting to have your disability appeal of benefits reconsidered, when a lawyer is advisable, and if you can do this on your own.

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I applied for Social Security disability because of my fibromyalgia. My claim was denied. I can't work and I'm in constant pain all the time. I'm going to appeal the decision to deny my benefits. Do I need a lawyer for the reconsideration appeal of disability benefits or can I appeal myself?

When you apply for Social Security and your claim is denied, there are several levels of appeal that you can go through. Reconsideration is the first level of the appeals process in most states. You can request this reconsideration in writing by contacting the Social Security Administration.

The reconsideration process simply involves a review of your application by a disability claims examiner who was not involved in the initial decision.

Most reconsiderations are denied, so your chances of winning at that stage of appeal aren't good unless you have evidence that your medical condition has deteriorated -- or new evidence that you didn't have the first time around.

You don't need a lawyer to file a reconsideration appeal, although an attorney can help you to determine why your original application was denied and can help you strengthen your application so that it can be approved in the reconsideration. The advantage to hiring an lawyer at the reconsideration stage rather than waiting until the hearing stage is that you could get an approval six months to a year earlier than if you wait for a hearing.

If you lose the reconsideration, you should definitely consider hiring a lawyer for the appeal hearing. To learn more, read our article on how hiring a disability attorney can help you win benefits.

If you do appoint a lawyer as your representative, the SSA will need to approve the fee agreement you make with that representative. Your lawyer will receive a percentage (usually 25%) of your backpay award. If you want to hire a lawyer, you can use our disability attorney locator tool to find a lawyer in your area.

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