Do I Need an SSDI Lawyer or a Non-Lawyer Advocate?

When you’re filing for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits, knowing what type of professional advocate to hire to support you during the claim process can be confusing. Finding professional assistance is wise, but how do you know which to choose?

SSDI Attorneys

Social Security attorneys are licensed lawyers who specialize in helping clients get SSDI benefits. They have a deeper understanding of the legal system and can offer legal advice. They can help you prepare your case, gather necessary documents and evidence, and represent you at hearings or in court. They can also file appeals on your behalf if necessary. They can also provide representation and support for any other related legal issues, such as workers' compensation or personal injury claims.

SSDI Non-Lawyer Advocates

A non-lawyer advocate has received specialized training and is certified to assist with SSDI claims. Since they are not lawyers, they cannot provide legal advice. They can help with the SSDI application process and are trained to help you fill out forms, gather medical information, and represent you at hearings. Many non-lawyer advocates work for nonprofit organizations or government agencies that provide SSDI assistance, although there are also a large number of for-profit companies that employ non-attorney representatives.

Comparing Your Options

What type of advocate you choose depends on how complex your case is and how much legal expertise is required. If your case is straightforward and you have a good understanding of the process, a non-lawyer advocate may be an option for you. However, if your case is more complicated, you need legal advice, or you do not feel confident in the process, an SSDI attorney is ideal for you.

Although SSDI lawyers and non-lawyer advocates are similar, their key differences are as follows:

  1. Qualifications: Non-lawyer advocates have completed specialized training, whereas SSDI attorneys have completed law school, passed the bar exam, and are licensed to practice law in their state. Both understand the SSDI system, but attorneys have a broader understanding of the law and legal processes.

  2. Representation: Non-lawyer advocates can represent you at hearings, but not at court. If your case requires an appeal, you will need an SSDI attorney, who can represent you both in hearings and at court.

  3. Legal Advice: Non-lawyer advocates cannot provide legal advice, but attorneys can. Legal advice is important for understanding your rights and the nuances of the SSDI system, especially if you need to file an appeal.

  4. Fees: Non-attorney representatives who work for for-profit companies typically charge the same fees as attorneys, which are contingency fees of twenty-five percent of your back pay. Why hire a non-attorney, who cannot do everything a licensed attorney like Robyn can do, when you can hire a licensed attorney for the same fee?

Making an Informed Decision

In conclusion, SSDI lawyers and non-lawyer advocates can be valuable resources when you’re seeking disability benefits. Regardless of which one you choose to work with, it is important to evaluate their qualifications, whether that is a non-lawyer advocate’s training and certification or an SSDI attorney’s credentials. It’s also important to provide whoever you choose with all the necessary information and documentation to ensure your SSDI process is as smooth as possible.

Ultimately, the choice between the two types of representation will depend on the complexity of your case and your personal preferences. Understanding the differences between the two will allow you to make an informed decision so you can have the best chance of receiving the SSDI benefits you deserve.

Robyn Ryan has been representing clients since 2007, and her wide range of experience will help take the stress out of the application process. You won’t pay a penny unless you win your case. Call Robyn at 901-765-8484 or email for a FREE evaluation of your case.