Recommendations for disability attorney in Seattle
August 7, 2022 11:41 AM   Subscribe

Hi all, I have a friend who very much needs to get approved for disability and doesn't know the first place to start, as well as having issues that are getting in the way of them even being able to complete the paperwork. I'm looking for recommendations for an attorney in Seattle who can assist with this process for someone with low income. Also, as a bonus, any additional ideas/resources for someone attempting to do this process that have been helpful. Thank you!
posted by fairlynearlyready to Law & Government (4 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I can't recommend a specific lawyer, but you should know that many lawyers will handle this kind of case on contingency. The percentage they recover is capped by statute. A lot of people go this route.
posted by praemunire at 11:55 AM on August 7, 2022 [1 favorite]

I don't know any attorneys that can help directly, but here are some resources that might be able to offer advice/direction:

King County Bar Association Neighborhood Legal Clinics

KCBA Attorney referral hotline

Washington Law Help has a database of issues and ways to get assistance
posted by Gorgik at 12:25 PM on August 7, 2022

First, just for your reference, SSI and SSDI are the names of the two main federal disability-based social security programs in the US, and they apply to different people depending on work history and age. No need to know in advance what your friend qualifies for— most attorneys do both if they do one, and applications cover both.

NOSSCR is the national central referral system for paid SSI/SSDI attorneys. As praemunire says, most such attorneys work on contingency. Often contingency fees come out of ‘retros’— meaning that you pay your SSI/SSDI attorney out of the retroactive benefits you are granted for what you were owed during the pendency of the appeal, and your future benefits are not reduced. Be sure to ask upfront whether the contingency comes out of retros or out of continuing assistance or both.

Legal aid such as what Gorgik linked has the significant benefit of being free and I’d definitely try there first— however, they may have income and asset restrictions, and be aware they might say they can only assist “on appeal” aka if denied by SSA (very common) and not with the application itself, called “at initial”. (Actually this might happen with NOSSCR attorneys as well but I’m honestly not sure, I think some of ‘em will help you soup to nuts and some won’t?)

An attorney might not be necessary for the application if the case is quite strong and well documented, with the help of a good caseworker or disability advocate. Your friend might try these resources to find a disability services organization.

The best guidance I can offer I found in a tumblr post years ago, actually, which is that in an application for disability benefits it’s useful to know that the government is asking for ability on your worst day. Checking “yeah I can dress myself!” is usually read as “I can dress myself on my own without help on almost all days” as opposed to “I can dress myself sometimes.” The second best guidance I can offer is that an SSA denial is not catastrophic. SSA denies, I believe, about 65% of initial applications, but almost half of those denials which are appealed are overturned.
posted by peppercorn at 3:40 PM on August 7, 2022 [4 favorites]

Dussault Law has helped my family with disability-related issues in the past, but not specifically with applying for benefits.
posted by The corpse in the library at 7:34 AM on August 8, 2022 [1 favorite]

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