Social Security Disability -Should you hire an attorney...I'm an attorney and the answer may be no
First of all, you should file your Social Security disability case electronically. You should file it online through SSA's website.
Also, you should be computer savvy enough to do so. You should be able to skim past all the attorney ads and not get caught up in advertising websites and erroneously believe you are on SSA's official website.
If you need the link, here it is: https://www.ssa.gov/applyfordisability/
Also, you should print off the Adult Disability Checklist to better prepare yourself.
You should be able to recreate your past work history for the last 15 years. Remember, SSA doesn't care who you worked for, they want to know what kind of work you performed. It does not have to be perfect, but it should be somewhat close.
You should also have all your medical information in hand before starting the application. For example, where did you go to the doctor, and/or hospital? What were those dates, and be able to give complete addresses and phone numbers.
If you can do all the above, then you can file for your Social Security disability on your own.
Further, just be sure and read all paperwork sent to you. If that paperwork is not completed and returned, then your case will not move forward.
Now, if you get denied or you are unable to do the above, then...
You should then consider hiring an experienced Social Security disability attorney to file your appeal. But please read carefully, you should only consider doing so. If you are still able to go online and file your appeal and complete the required paperwork, then continue on your own. If you're then lost or feeling overwhelmed, then again consider hiring an attorney.
Now, let's say you do receive your second denial.
I would tell you that it would be most prudent to hire an experienced disability attorney. In order to successfully meander through the hearing process, you're likely going to need someone who knows what he/she is doing.
I cannot tell you how many times I have seen claimants attempt to represent themselves at their hearing. The percentage of success is quite low when it comes to representing yourself. Oftentimes, the judge will ask the claimant to go back and take some time and hire an attorney and then return for his or her hearing. This is especially true when the claimant has done a poor job of updating his or her case with medical evidence.
Just FYI, sometimes making this decision is pretty important. If a claimant has not worked for some time and his or her Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits are about to expire and he or she is denied and does not appeal, then they may be unable to refile for those benefits again. So, in the hopes of saving money, they actually cost themselves the ability to receive disability benefits.