I would ABSOLUTELY hire an attorney, from the start. The process is just so very complicated, and long, and takes focus and attention to detail and to keep nudging things along . . . I just didn't have the energy and everything else it took to get through the process. I am so very relieved that I applied the way that I did. If I hadn't, I am 100% confident that I would still be waiting/appealing/hoping to someday get awarded benefits. Each person is different, of course, but . . . lawyers at least give you a leg up on the intricacies that we lay-people can never truly understand. Good luck to you!
FunChefChick and Pooch
Diagnosed undifferentiated spondyloarthropathy and Fibromyalgia Spring 2009.
Taking: Mobic (NSAID), Lyrica, Cimzia, Morphine Sulfate, Soma, Morphine IR.
Tried: MTX, Humira, Savella, Cymbalta, Enbrel
Had been employed full-time in the tech sector for 25 years; went on permanent disability leave starting April 2013.