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When to Hire a Social Security Disability Lawyer

If you are in need of Social Security benefits, money is likely a concern if you are unable to work, which can make you reluctant to hire a Social Security lawyer to pursue your claim. However, there are benefits associated with hiring a Social Security lawyer and deferment of costs that you would otherwise miss out on. We break down below the potential benefits and costs of hiring a Social Security lawyer in order to help you make the best decision for your situation. 


The costs of hiring a Social Security lawyer are relatively straightforward: disability lawyers charge a fee that is regulated by federal law and is generally the lesser of 25% of your disability backpay or $6,000.

-Jon Montagna

Note that this figure does not include costs that may be associated with your claim such as transcript fees, postage, making copies, etc. Usually, there is little to no money required up-front and you are only required to pay if your lawyer wins your case. 

Why you should hire a social security disability lawyer

Most people agree that the benefits of hiring a Social Security disability lawyer far outweigh the costs listed above. This is primarily because a lawyer is a professional who offers an advanced education in law and a daily working knowledge of Social Security laws. He or she will greatly improve your chances of a positive outcome by helping you to avoid pitfalls that you may not even be aware of. While some people who file a Social Security disability case on their own are approved, statistics show that applicants represented by legal counsel are far more likely to be approved for benefits, and more of them.

From submitting the initial application to the hearing and aftermath, Social Security lawyers understand how to present the case in a manner that will yield success for the client. It can be helpful to determine your need for legal counsel by answering a few questions and being honest with yourself: 

  • Do you know how to write with proper legal citations?
  • Are you familiar with the rules of evidence? 
  • Do you know and understand every step in the process of submitting a Social Security disability claim?
  • Do you know who you will be dealing with during the claims process?
  • Do you have any experience with Social Security disability law?

If you found yourself answering no to any of those questions, it may be in your best interest to pursue the services of experienced legal counsel to improve your chances of the best possible outcome. 

When should you hire a social security disability lawyer?

The general rule here is the sooner, the better. Many in this situation will try to get the ball rolling on their case and then contact a lawyer after running into problems in the process. This option is not always unsuccessful, but it certainly isn’t the recommended course of action. Often times, getting a lawyer involved halfway through the process forces the lawyer to spend extra time correcting potential mishaps that may have been made and then trying to minimize the damage done. 

Instead, it’s best to consult a lawyer as early in the process as possible to gain an understanding of the process, what is required of you, and to identify potential holes in your case. If at that time you decide you can handle it on your own, you can proceed without legal counsel and you will sleep better at night knowing you’ve done everything you could.

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Will Social Security Benefit Be Available When I Retire?

For US citizens, Social Security is an essential program as the benefits it pays represent about one-third of all income among senior citizens and a majority of beneficiaries collect Social Security as 50% or more of their income during retirement. This article details how Social Security works from the process itself, how much you can expect to collect, and how to ensure its availability once you retire.

How exactly does social security work?

As a working member of society, you pay taxes into the Social Security system. These taxes are most often taken in the form of deductions from your wages and other earnings (this amount should be laid out on your paycheck stub or when you access your direct deposit records). 

Once you retire or are unable to work due to disability, you can apply to reap the benefits you’ve earned. The amount of Social Security benefits you get each month is largely dependent upon the following three factors:

  1. The number of years you worked at Social Security-qualifying jobs
  2. How much money you made at these jobs
  3. The age at which you retire

The third factor, however, comes with some pretty significant stipulations. If you choose to collect benefits before reaching full retirement age, which is the age at which you qualify for 100% of the benefit calculated from your earnings history, you will receive a permanently reduced benefit. Your monthly benefit will be reduced by a whopping 25-30% if you start collecting at age 62. 

If you wait to apply for Social Security benefits until you turn 70, however, you could increase your benefit by 32%. Although 66 is the age at which you will receive 100% of your Social Security benefits, we highly recommend waiting until you turn 70 to receive an increased monthly rate. 

As of 2019, the estimated average Social Security retirement benefit is $1,461 a month. The maximum benefit that an individual retiree can receive is $2,861 a month for someone who retires at full retirement age. 

The amount you receive is also largely based on the length of time you work. The longer you work, the higher your Social Security benefits will be. Your retirement benefit is based on your lifetime earnings in which you paid Social Security taxes. Higher income means a bigger benefit. 

How to obtain Social Security benefits

Social Security benefits do not automatically kick in. You must apply for your benefits through an application process. You will only know how much your Social Security benefits will be when you apply, although there are ways to get a rough idea. 

How Social Security benefits are calculated

Social Security benefits are calculated based on your 35 highest-earning working years. If you continue to work and earn a higher salary well into your 60s than you did earlier in your career, you could boost your Social Security payments even more. Because benefit amounts are calculated based on a worker’s highest 35 earning years, benefits can be increased by landing a job, even if you’ve already started collecting benefits. Higher earning years, even if they take place after retirement, can be used to replace your lower-earning years. 


Let’s say you file for Social Security, start receiving your benefits, then get hired for a new job. If you’ve been collecting Social Security for less than a year, you can suspend your benefits and claim them later. This will essentially postpone your benefit so that you can then earn a higher benefit when you do officially retire and start receiving payments again. The catch, however, is that you’ll have to repay all of the benefits you’ve already received. 

So again, if you are not in dire need of collecting until you turn 70, we would recommend waiting to apply. 

What to do if you’re denied

Whether you’re seeking Social Security Disability benefits or Long Term Disability benefits, the lawyers of Montagna Klein Camden can help. Our social security disability lawyers have been representing disabled individuals before the Social Security Administration for years. We work on a contingency fee basis, meaning that we don’t get paid unless you win your case. 

Give us a call: 877-622-8100.

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Social Security Disability & Supplemental Security Income

Social Security Disability and Supplemental Security Income benefits are necessary to the well-being of many Americans.  However, Many SSD and SSI applicants are faced with denied claims and a host of nearly unanswerable questions when they first file a Social Security claim.  Fortunate Social Security Disability claimants turn to competent SSD and SSI lawyers, who appeal their claims.  Many who apply for SSD and SSI simply feel they have no recourse.  Social Security Claims are denied for a variety of reasons, and the reasons are often simply opinion.  Judges have different ideas about which SSD claims should be denied, or approved, and this creates a situation for claimants that requires the assistance of a Social Security attorney.  

According to the United States Government Accountability Office, allowance, or denial of Social Security Disability benefits “varied across judges, even after holding constant certain characteristics” (  The same government self-study on SSD benefits cites up to a 46% variation in judges’ rulings on Social Security awards.  This means that in nearly identical Social Security claim cases, different judges do not rule consistently to award SSD benefits.  Our legal system allows for interpretation by judges, but such a difference in Social Security Rulings poses a severe difficulty for SSD claimants.  

The process of appealing a Social Security Disability claim can be lengthy, and requires a lawyer to be highly successful.  In fact, it is ideal for anyone filing a claim to hire a lawyer before they begin the filing process.  The GAO explains through their intensive research on SSD claims, that “claimants who had representatives, such as an attorney… were allowed benefits at a rate nearly 3 times higher than those without representatives.”  This shows that the knowledge a highly qualified Social Security Disability attorney can bring to the table far outweighs many factors for consideration in SSD claims.  Attorney John H. Klein, of Montagna Klein Camden, LLP cites the frequent denial of both claims and appeals as something a lawyer should handle on behalf of the claimant.  SSD awards, according to Klein, may go through many denials, and an SSD attorney may have to see an appeal through “the appeals council and, after that, up to the Federal District Court.” 

Social Security Disability’s lengthy application process and even longer appeals processes are best handled by qualified SSD attorneys.  Social Security Claimants who are represented by SSD and SSI lawyers will have the highest chance of awards, and the most peace of mind through the processes of Social Security Disability claims and appeals. 

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