Atticus offers free, high-quality disability advice for Americans who can't work. Our team of Stanford and Harvard trained lawyers has a combined 15+ years of legal experience, and have helped over 10,000 Americans apply for disability benefits.
If you live in Los Angeles and cannot work because of an injury or illness, a Social Security disability lawyer can help. Finding a lawyer in Los Angeles County can be just as complex as applying for disability benefits — which is saying a lot.
Here at Atticus, a public-interest law firm, we can help simplify the process. Our win rate for clients in the Golden State is an impressive 91 percent.
Read on to learn more about the advantages of disability attorneys and how to find legal help for your disability claim in Los Angeles.
California disability benefits
California is one of just five states with a short-term disability program. The California State Disability Insurance program offers partial-wage replacement benefits to workers unable to work due to an injury, illness, pregnancy, or childbirth. CA residents can receive 60-70% of their former wages for up to 52 weeks through DI benefits.
If an injury or illness will keep you out of work for more than a year, you should apply for Social Security disability benefits, too. The Social Security Administration (SSA) administers two federal disability programs: Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI). Both programs offer monthly benefits and healthcare coverage indefinitely or until you reach retirement age.
Match with a trusted disability lawyer in California
SSDI: You may qualify for SSDI if you’ve worked five of the last ten years and have paid a certain amount of Social Security taxes.
SSI: Those with a limited work history, low income, and few assets may qualify for SSI. The program has resource limitations. You may qualify If you have less than $2,000 (or $3,000 if you are married).
To qualify for either program, you must not be able to work due to a medical condition. Your condition must meet the SSA’s “definition of disability,” and you must have medical evidence to prove your condition.
Do I need a disability lawyer in California?
The Social Security Administration does not require disability applicants to have a disability lawyer to apply for benefits — but it’s a significant advantage to have one. Over 80% of applicants have a Social Security attorney at the hearing stage, and working with a lawyer can increase your chances of winning benefits threefold.
If you’re applying for state disability insurance, that process is straightforward, and you can easily submit a claim online through California’s Employment Development Department at edd.ca.gov without the help of a lawyer.
The only reason to apply for Social Security disability benefits without a lawyer is if you have a severe or terminal illness. The SSA recognizes certain cancers, brain disorders, and rare diseases as automatic qualifiers for disability benefits. So, if you have a medical condition on the SSA’s compassionate allowance list, notify the SSA immediately to expedite your application.
5 Benefits of Social Security Disability lawyers
Working with a disability lawyer is the best path forward for the majority of applicants. A lawyer can offer support at every stage, from the initial application to a court hearing. Consider the following advantages of working with a disability attorney:
Disability lawyers know the answers the SSA is looking for in your application
Disability lawyers can communicate with the SSA at each stage of the application process
Disability lawyers have access to the SSA’s Electronics Records Express to ensure your disability case is on track
Disability lawyers can represent you at a hearing and cross-examine vocational experts
How Atticus client Kevin won benefits
When Los Angeles resident Kevin could no longer work as a wine store clerk due to nerve damage in his hand, he looked to Atticus for support with the disability application process. “I saw Atticus, and I said, I’m taking a shot with them. It was the best shot I ever took,” he says.
Atticus paired Kevin with Joshua Potter, a dedicated disability lawyer in Los Angeles County at Potter, Cohen, Samulon & Padilla, and he won his benefits.
How much are disability benefits in California?
The payment amount for disability benefits in California depends on the program you qualify for. Your work history, monthly income, and condition duration can impact your exact payment amount.
California disability pay chart
Disability benefits program
Average payment amount
Maximum payment amount
State Disability Insurance
60-70% of your wages
$1,620 per week
Social Security Disability Insurance
$1,524.99 per month
$3,822 per month
Supplemental Security Income
$578.62 per month
$943 per month
How much does a disability lawyer cost in California?
There are no upfront costs to work with a disability attorney. Typically, disability lawyers work on a contingency fee basis — you only pay if your lawyer wins your case. A disability lawyer usually gets paid 25% of your first check, and the fee is capped at $7,200 by law.
Take our 2-minute disability quiz to determine your eligibility for benefits. A team member will follow up to offer a free consultation and match you with a highly qualified lawyer serving Los Angeles clients if you're interested.
SSA offices in Los Angeles
There are seven SSA field offices in Los Angeles. The SSA encourages applicants to apply online and call the national number with questions. Still, you can visit your local SSA office to apply in person and speak with a claims representative.
1122 W Washington Blvd Suitte 200
Los Angeles, CA 90015
Atticus partners with leading law offices, helping clients with Social Security disability claims. Here are a few Atticus practices that have handled thousands of successful cases:
Potter, Cohen, Samulon & Padilla
3852 E Colorado Blvd., Pasadena, California 91107
Disability Advocates Group
17525 Ventura Blvd., Encino, California 91316
Hadley and Fraulob
2207 J St., Sacramento, California 95816
FAQs about disability in California
How do I qualify for disability in California?
To qualify for disability you need to have a condition that prevents you from working for at least a year. You’ll also need to meet certain work history requirements (for SSDI) or be within certain income limits (for SSI). For more on these requirements, read our full write up here.
What conditions qualify for disability in California?
Any condition that will prevent you from working for a year or more can qualify for disability benefits. Some of the most common conditions include musculoskeletal disorders, mental disorders, nervous system diseases, and circulatory system diseases. See our full list of conditions that qualify here.
How long does it take to get approved for disability in California?
It takes an average of 6.1 months to get an initial disability decision in California. Most people who apply are initially rejected, and need to appeal this decision. If you appeal and go to a hearing, the process takes around two years on average. Read more: How Long It Takes to Get Approved for Disability Benefits
How much does disability pay in California?
The average SSDI payment in California is $1,395.93 per month. The average SSI payment is $765.06 per month. What you’ll earn is dependent on your income, or the amount you’ve historically paid into the Social Security program. Read more on what amount you can expect.
How should I prepare my disability application in California?
Answer the application questions truthfully, consistently, and succinctly. You should also ensure that you gather and submit all your medical records with your application. The SSA paperwork can be complicated, so our legal team has written a full guide to the application here.
Does California have a state disability program?
Yes, California is one of the five states with its own state disability program. Residents can apply for California Disability Insurance, which offers payments for up to 52 weeks (one year). Work injuries aren’t covered, though. If your injury will keep you out of work longer, you can still apply for SSDI and SSI. Read more about the difference between SSDI and SSI here.
How to Apply for Disability Benefits in California
By Jackie Jakab
How to Qualify for Disability Benefits in California
By Jackie Jakab
Jackie Jakab is Atticus’s Legal Director. She’s a licensed attorney, a graduate of the University of Chicago Law School, and has counseled thousands of people seeking disability benefits.
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