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Should I get a lawyer before I file for Social Security Disability?

Freeport, FL |

I am 26 and I have been unable to work since I was 22. I have Rheumatoid Arthritis and Fibromyalgia. I have seen a specialist. I have been told it is extremely hard to get disability for Fibromyalgia because there are no definitive tests to diagnose. Should I get a lawyer before I start the process and is it a good possibility that I will win?

Attorney Answers 5


Call me biased, but yes I think you should hire an attorney as early in the process as possible.

Also, please be aware that there are special Social Security Disability (SSD) rules for workers younger than 31 years of age who become disabled before they have enough work credits on their earnings history.

In addition, if one becomes disabled before reaching 22 years of age, and has a parent who is on SSD, SS retirement, or is deceased then the individual may be eligible for Disabled Adult Child (DAC) benefits.

Moreover, if one is disabled and does not qualify for either the special SSD program or DAC then one should apply for Supplemental Security Income (SSI).

In my opinion, a person should apply for all three disability programs.

An individual with Fibromyalgia or suspected of having that diagnosis should have one's medical provider conduct and document the 19 point trigger test for Fibromyalgia - this is solid evidence for such a diagnosis under Social Security's own rules and the case law.

Recent nationwide statistics from the Social Security Administration show that:

a) Initial Applications are denied approximately 65% of the time and these take 3-4 months on average.

b) Requests for Reconsideration (the first appeal) are denied about 78% of the time and these also take 3-4 months.

c) Hearings before a Social Security ALJ (the second appeal) are approved about 65% of the time - the wait to get to a hearing varies greatly depending on which hearing office you are dealing with (they time varies from 10 to 24 months), in our area the current wait is approximately 16 months (it has been as high as 25 months in the past five years).

In my opinion you should get an attorney as early in the process as possible as the fees are set by Social Security law and would be the same regardless if you hire the attorney the week before your hearing or the day you applied originally.

Contact NOSSCR to find an attorney in your area, look for one offering a free no-obligation initial consultation (most do) then meet with one or more and sign up with one you are comfortable with.

NOSSCR Lawyer Referral Service - For help in finding attorney representation, contact our lawyer referral service during Eastern business hours:


Disclaimer Information on this site is provided by Brian Scott Wayson as general information, not legal advice, and use of this information does not establish an attorney-client relationship. If you have questions about your specific situation, please call an attorney.

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You should consult with a local attorney who specializes in Social Security Disability claims and have him or her review the medical records in the file to determine if your case is strong enough to win at the application level, or if there is a need to garner further medical reports to make the case stronger. You would also need to make sure you have enough "credits" to qualify for Social Security Disability.

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To be honest I don't believe you need an attorney yet. While being helpful having an attorney at the early stages just may not be as useful as you would think. It takes about four months for the initial decision and you can always get an attorney at that time. Good luck!

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Social Security will find fibromaylgia disabling if the medical records document a significant problem. Social Security recognizes the American College of Rheumatology criteria for a proper diagnosis. So it is important to be treated by a rheumatologist. There is no listing for fibromyalgia in the Listing of Impairment. So you have to show that the condition produces signficant symptoms that would preclude jobs. Fibromyalgia pain can make a person unreliable as an employee. If your rheumatologist can provide limitations based on the diagnosis and supportive treatment records, you may have a strong case and should pursue these benefits.
Of course, as has already been noted, you must also meet the technical eligibility requirements (quarters of coverage for DIB and resource limits for SSI).

DISCLAIMER: This response is for informational purposes only and does not form an attorney-client relationship. It represents only the educated opinion of the author. It should not be relied upon as legal advice. The response is based on the limited facts provided, and might change given additional or different facts.

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My opinion is yes, you should get an attorney at the start, due to the nature of your impairments (typically changeable, sometimes more painful and/or disabling than other times) and that there are specific things which need to be shown in the medical evidence to prove the existence of fibromyalgia. An attorney can focus SSA's attention on the legal standard which supports a finding of disability for your case. This might mean the difference between being paid initially and having to wait months or years for a hearing.

In any case, since you have not worked in 4 years, don't delay filing for disability. If you are found to qualify for any Social Security benefit, either because of your own earnings or those of a parent, or if you are found to qualify for SSI, you could lose a month (or more) in benefits if you delay a month (or more). Even if you think you need additional medical tests, even if you need to investigate hiring an attorney, don't delay filing to "lock in" the date SSA will use in evaluating the possibility of retroactive benefits. The medical tests and the attorney can be done after you file.

This communication offers general information based on the limited facts set out in the question, and does not constitute the giving of legal advice, nor does it establish an attorney-client relationship. For specific legal advice, consult an attorney in your state who is knowledgeable in this area of law.

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