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An article from Indiana Social Security attorney Tom Ebbinghouse appeared in my reader recently. Mr. Ebbinghouse prefers to get involved early in a Social Secuity disability claim. He states:

When I first started representing claimants in 1994, I also would not take a client until they had been turned down at least once. I reasoned that if someone could be approved on their initial application without an attorney, why not let them go ahead on their own and find out if their claim could be approved. They could save an attorney fee and it would not hurt their case if they did lose, so why not wait to see who really needed an attorney to help them?

But then I started to notice something. When people applied by themselves, they were making it harder to win their case by not having an attorney at the beginning to explain to them the rules of Social Security. They were unknowingly lowering the odds for success at that stage and at the appeal stages. They were not realizing that they were making strategic decisions that might ruin their claim before some administrative law judges. They did not have someone to help them figure out what was the relevant evidence that they needed to be sure they presented to Social Security. I figured out that I was wrong-people were hurting their case by not having an attorney at the beginning of their case.

Several years ago I decided that I had to start taking claimants as clients as soon as possible. Claimants needed to be represented before they filed their claim. If I made a claimant wait until they were turned down before I would represent them, their not knowing the rules put them at a disadvantage: bad evidence was created, good evidence was not brought forward, other strategic choices were being made that could not be undone, and good claims were being unnecessarily tainted with misinformation.

Do not wait to hire an attorney. Get competent help before you file so that the job will be done correctly from the beginning.

I completely agree. I have had a similar experience to Mr. Ebbinghouse, and now I strongly prefer to get involved as early as possible with a claim.