Social Security disability (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) applicants who hire an attorney specializing in SSDI will be more likely to be approved than those who do not. This article discusses the process to help you decide if hiring a lawyer is the right choice for you.
What is a Social Security Disability Lawyer?
Social Security Disability attorneys understand the impact a denied initial claim can have on an individual and his or her family, particularly if the benefits are the applicant's sole source of personal income. An initial denial of Social Security disability benefits is more common than not. Although denials are not necessarily indicative of ineligibility, they may indicate that applications for benefits have been denied.
Many applicants who have been rejected abandon their claims instead of going through an intimidating appeal process where they could possibly recover the benefits they are owed. SSDI lawyers near me who specialize in Social Security law have extensive experience in the application and appeals process, among other practice areas, and the resources needed to recover benefits.
What Does a Social Security Disability Attorney Do?
Hiring an experienced attorney to help with your disability case greatly improves your chances of approval. Despite the fact that some people apply on their own and are approved for benefits, statistics show that those who are represented by legal counsel are more likely to be approved.
Disability attorneys know how to present a case from the initial application to the hearing and beyond. An attorney can help you determine your "alleged onset date" of disability, advocates that your condition fits into one of Social Security's "blue book" impairment categories, and offer legal advice to help you convince Social Security. You and your lawyer can gather and submit relevant medical evidence, obtain your doctor's opinion, prepare a detailed brief for the Administrative Law Judge (ALJ), and prepare you for the judge's questions. During the hearing, your attorney may cross-examine the Vocational Expert or Medical Expert to demonstrate your inability to work.
Your lawyer can make sophisticated legal arguments to show that you were wrongly denied benefits through the Appeals Council and the federal court at the next stages of appeal.
When to Hire a Social Security Disability Lawyer?
In general, the sooner you apply for disability benefits, the better. If you're even thinking about applying for disability benefits, you should contact a disability lawyer for a free consultation. Attorneys can assist you with your initial application and evaluate the strength of your case.
It's more likely you'll get approved if you have a lawyer on your side during this stage. Also, some clients who are initially approved only owe a small fee because there are few back benefits owed by Social Security.
Hiring a lawyer after receiving a denial should be a no-brainer if using an attorney to make your initial application is a good idea. If your health is terminal or you find yourself in a dire financial situation (for example, your house is foreclosed on) a disability attorney can sometimes help speed up the process. Additionally, your attorney can ask the judge to make an "on-the-record" (OTR) decision, meaning that you may receive benefits without a hearing.
Lawyers' attempts to expedite cases often fail, and those represented by legal staff must wait months or years until their cases are resolved.
How Do I Choose a Social Security Disability Attorney?
There are many ways in which you can go about finding Social Security Disability attorneys near you to handle your disability case, including:
Ask your lawyer
You may be able to obtain a referral from a lawyer you are already familiar with (for example, someone you have used to handle other legal issues) to another lawyer who specializes in Social Security disability law.
Ask family and friends
There is a chance that people close to you have experience with disability lawyers. You may feel more comfortable with a lawyer if a family member or friend recommends him or her.
Ask others who have been through the disability process
When you are disabled, you often participate in rehabilitation with other disabled individuals, including at rehabilitation centers, hospitals, and other places. You can also get to know disabled people through employment, work training, or living arrangements.
Check with the local Bar Association
Bar Associations offer support and services both to lawyers and to those seeking legal assistance. You can search for lawyers by their areas of practice on the Bar Association website.
Look on the Internet
You might try searching online for an attorney if none of the above methods work for you. Look through customer reviews and professional associations' ratings. In addition, you can probably find out if the lawyer has ever been disciplined.
How to Find a Lawyer for Social Security Disability Insurance?
There are several ways in which you can locate Social Security disability lawyers. Lawyer referral websites are readily available on the internet. State bar associations and legal aid clinics can also refer you to people for interviews.
Be careful. There's no guarantee that the legal professional you find through one of these sources will be good or ethical.
Getting a list of Social Security disability lawyers to interview is best done by word of mouth, in person, or through social media, from people who have had good experiences with one. Before hiring someone, ask questions.
How Much Does the Social Security Disability Lawyer Average Cost?
Social Security Disability law lawyers near you can help you with your Social Security case, but you should understand the costs and benefits first. Generally, disability attorneys charge either 25% of your disability benefits or $6,000; this is regulated by federal law.
Do Social Security Disability Attorneys Usually Charge for Consultations?
Your attorney will not receive a fee if you do not receive back pay benefits. The lawyer is, however, permitted to ask the SSA for payment in these cases. A lawyer for Social Security Disability near you usually does not charge any upfront fees.