Re: Lawyer or not?
Be aware that MOST people are turned down the first and second times. But if you're one of the fortunate ones who gets it on the first try, you'll have to fork out a bunch of it to your lawyer if you hire one up front. Most of us apply on our own to start and get a lawyer or advocate once we get turned down for the second time. Of the three lawyers and one advocate I talked to, all but one of the lawyers told me to file on my own first. The one lawyer who told me to hire him from the beginning was a shady one. When I asked him why, he answered, "well, I won't go into all of that, but trust me, you should have me do it for you." He had some other things to say that turned me off, too, like warning me that SS may send people to videotape me, so I'd need to be very careful, etc. I told him they'd be welcome to. It could only confirm every word I would say. But I was shocked (shouldn't have been) that he would even say that to me. He also said I probably wouldn't call him back, as he had talked quite a lot and it seemed that the more he talked to people, the less likely they were to call back. Huh? I guess because they realized he was a shady kook!
It you have a particularly complicated case, it might be worth it to you to have a lawyer or advocate from the start, as they know how to weave through the maze.
I wish you the best,