It is important to hire an attorney while you still have appeals rights available at the administrative level.  This is because you are still able to submit additional evidence to support your disability at the administrative level. Once you have exhausted all of your appeals rights at the administrative level, your next step is to bring an ERISA claim in court.  And the courts generally do not allow you to bring in any additional supporting evidence of your disability, as the court's job is merely to review the actions of the insurance company or plan administrator at the administrative level to determine whether they abused their discretion in denying you benefits.   You could be prevented from bringing in very important information concerning your disability if you did not bring it into evidence at the administrative level.