While you hope you ever need disability lawyers, life is rarely perfect and you’ll run into some complications.
Making a disability claim can be overwhelming unless you understand the law. As an everyday citizen, you haven’t likely dealt with disability and what it entails. Choosing the best person to help you get the compensation you need is a must or you might lose out on money for years to come.
Continue reading this article to learn how to find a good disability lawyer.
The 411 on Finding the Best Disability Lawyers
Whether you’re looking for long term disability insurance lawyers or someone to help you get paid for a short-term disability, most disability attorneys can help you with long or short-term disabilities.
Don’t be too quick to vet attorneys. Take your time to find the right one for you. Here are some things you should ask your attorney before you consider hiring them.
Questions to Ask Your Potential Disability Lawyers
Don’t forget to ask these important questions. These questions will help you vet your potential lawyer choices.
Where are you licensed to practice law?
Asking the most basic questions is key. Ask them if they are licensed to practice law in your jurisdiction. If you’ve found an attorney that you like but they aren’t able to take care of your claim because of where you’re located — you’re wasting your time.
To be practice law in your area, the attorney has to be in good standing with your state’s bar association.
What mistakes am I making as I’m filing my claim?
I’ve you’ve already started filing your claim but you can’t get approved, asking them what mistakes you’re making on your claim can help you cut through to the heart of the issue.
Should I start my claim over?
When you speak to a good disability lawyer, they will be able to tell you if you need to start over all the way or they can help you continue your claim. Allowing the attorney to take the entire case over can be the least overwhelming for you.
What is the firm’s approval rate?
Asking about the firm’s approval rating will allow you to get an overall picture of how well they’re doing. If the firm has a low approval rating — pass.
How large of a percentage of approvals are the hearing level?
Going to court can be a major hassle. Finding out how many claims have to go to court when working with this firm will give you an idea of how likely your case will have to go to court.
What percentage of wins get full benefits & what percentage get partial benefits?
A reputable firm will be able to share these stats. If they can’t tell you these things or if they seem uncomfortable sharing this information — pass.
Professionalism & Customer Service
When you’re working with an attorney, you’re likely to have many questions. The attorney should never treat you like you’re an annoyance.
Their staff should be helpful and answer your calls quickly. You don’t want to have to wait for days for a reply.
Look out for outcome promises. Attorneys cannot and should not promise outcomes.
A good attorney will review your case and only tell you what they believe they could do for you vs. telling you they can get the approval without any knowledge of your case.
The attorney you work with should be honest that they can’t make the approval committee come to a conclusion any sooner than you can on your own if you’re filing your claim the right way. The process takes as long as it takes and they can’t speed it up.
On the other hand, one of the things that can hold up your approval is not filing your claim properly so having an attorney to help you can make the process faster if they make sure you get it right.
Before you start working with an attorney, you need to know how much access you’ll have to the attorney. Find out if you’re going to be working with the attorney directly or if they’ll be handing your case off to paralegals and other people in their office.
Can I Afford a Disability Attorney?
If you’re worried about getting your hands on money so you can pay an attorney retainer — that isn’t how disability attorneys do business.
As you’re looking through your attorney choices, you’ll likely see that all disability attorneys charge almost the same rate across the board. The attorney’s fee has to be approved by the Social Security judge and is taken out of your back pay for social security disability benefits.
If you don’t get an award of benefits then you don’t owe anything to the attorney you’re working with. Attorney fees are capped at 25% or a maximum of $6,000.
After the initial 25% payment of back pay of benefits with a maximum of $6,000, your benefits will come to you in full in the future. You don’t have to worry about giving a continuous payment to the attorney for helping you with your case since this is illegal and not permitted by the Social Security Administration.
The Legal Information You Need at Your Fingertips
Going through the process of getting disability benefits don’t have to drive you up a wall when you work with highly qualified disability lawyers.
Now that you know how to choose the best attorney for your case, why not continue your education? We have many articles for your law-related questions.
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When you’re unable to work due to physical or mental limitations, it can be very stressful. When this happens, it’s important to do everything that you can to get on disability. This isn’t always going to be an easy process, due to the fact that disability law is very complicated. Take a look at the following five reasons why you need a lawyer to help with disability.
1. You Don’t Have to Pay Them Upfront
Perhaps the biggest reason why people avoid hiring lawyers is that they’re afraid that they can’t afford them. Most disability lawyers won’t require payment upfront. They’ll simply take a small cut of your first settlement check as compensation. This means that you can make use of their services without having money.
If you don’t happen to win your disability case, then you won’t owe them anything at all. This is very convenient for people who are in a financial bind. If you don’t have money, you’re still going to be able to find a lawyer that can help you out.
2. They Understand the Ins and Outs of the Law
Of course, you know that disability law is incredibly complicated and that an average person with no legal background isn’t going to grasp the intricacies of the law. For this reason, you need a legal professional who understands the ins and outs of the law. They’re going to be able to take the right actions and they’ll always know what to do next.
Your lawyer isn’t going to get caught off guard by anything. They’ve helped many people who are in the same situation you are in right now. When you get the help of a skilled legal professional, you’ll be able to feel far more at ease.
3. They’ll Act on Your Behalf
You don’t have to worry about things when you have disability lawyers to rely on. They’re going to be working for you so that everything gets taken care of. You aren’t going to have to run around or make phone calls. They’ll be taking care of all of the paperwork and you won’t have to be nearly as stressed out about things.
4. You’ll Be Able to Get Better Results
Trying to get on disability without a lawyer certainly isn’t going to be easy. You might wind up getting denied several times and becoming frustrated. Some people even wind up giving up on the process. Don’t let yourself give up on getting what you deserve when lawyers can get you better results.
When you have a lawyer on your side, it makes things so much easier to deal with. You’ll be able to get things taken care of properly and they’ll get you your disability settlement faster than you could on your own. Disability lawyers have great track records and the success rates are far better for those who have lawyers. This is reason enough to hire one.
5. You Need to Get Your Disability Now
You likely already understand how imperative it is to get your disability settlement as soon as possible. When you’re unable to earn a living, you’re going to be at risk of financial ruin. Hiring a lawyer can help you to get your disability settlement faster, so you should hire one so that the process doesn’t drag on for too long. You can’t afford to wait, so it makes sense to make the call to the legal professionals as soon as possible.
After reading the five reasons above, it should be obvious that hiring a lawyer is going to be very beneficial to you. Take the time to consider whether or not you need to make that call. If you want to get your disability settlement, then it’s definitely going to be a good idea.
If you were injured or diagnosed with a chronic illness and can’t work anymore, then applying for Social Security Disability is probably in your future. Social Security Disability can provide an income when you are no longer able to work and after being approved, you may be eligible for other benefits, like Medicare.
Social Security Disability Horror Stories
You may have heard horror stories about your friend or neighbor who applied and was denied 2 or 3 times and it took 3 years to finally get approved. The horror stories you’ve heard have a basis in fact. In 2017, over 2 million people applied for Social Security Disability. Only approximately 30% were approved after initially applying. The statistics get even more grim: at the first appeal (called the Reconsideration), approximately 88% were denied. The next appeal is called a Request for a Hearing before an Administrative Law Judge. Nationwide, 46% of those who requested a hearing were approved by a judge after having a hearing. So, your chances are better when you get before a judge – that’s the good news.
How Long Does the SSDB Process Take?
As you probably guessed and have likely heard, this process can take quite a while – that’s the bad news. After you initially apply, it takes around 4-6 months to get a decision. After you request Reconsideration, it goes back to the same office that reviewed your case initially. It takes about the same amount of time to get a decision as it did the first time around – roughly 4-6 months. Once you file your Request for Hearing before an Administrative Law Judge, it takes anywhere from 12-24 months to actually get a hearing. So, from when you initially apply to your hearing could be 3 years.
Social Security Disability Appeal
If the judge denies your case, then the next appeal is to the Appeals Council. The Appeals Council is in Falls Church, Va and they only review cases, they don’t hold hearings. The Appeals Council can send it back to the judge (a remand), approve your case and award benefits, or deny your case. It can take 24 months to get a decision from the Appeals Council. If the Appeals Council denies your case, then the next appeal is to file a civil claim in Federal Court. Roughly 50% of cases filed in Federal Court are sent back (remanded) to the Social Security Administration for a new hearing.
Should I Hire a Disability Lawyer?
You are more likely to get approved if you are represented throughout the process. Social Security attorneys are required to work on a contingent fee basis and Social Security sets the fees that an attorney can charge. The current authorized fees are: 25% of the client’s back pay up to $6,000. Attorneys can pass along charges that they incur obtaining your medical records in addition to the fees charged. That means that if you don’t win, your attorney doesn’t get paid, but you may still owe your attorney fees for medical records. Your attorney’s fees will come out of your back pay and are paid directly from the Treasury, so you probably won’t have to write a check to your attorney for fees.
Stick With It!
Applying for Social Security Disability can be a long process, but if you can stick with it, it can give you much-needed income when you are unable to work.
About the Author
Martha Yancey is an attorney and an active member of the State Bars of California and Georgia. She owns and operates Yancey Disability, Inc. located in Encinitas, CA and exclusively practices Social Security Disability. She is the author if The Applicant’s Guide to Social Security Disability, available on Amazon. You can find her at www.helpwithdisability.net or at firstname.lastname@example.org