Do you have an endocrine disorder, cancer, respiratory illness, or cardiovascular illness? Are you unable to work as a result of this condition or illness? If the answer to these questions is yes, you may qualify for Social Security disability. Social Security Disability Insurance, or SSDI, is meant for those who have a medical condition that limits their ability to work. There are strict criteria to qualify for SSDI and many applicants are denied the first time they apply. One way of improving your chances of approval is to hire a disability lawyer.
These lawyers are experienced, understand the ins and outs of disability, and can represent you in front of an administrative law judge if your application is denied.
Read on to learn more about what you should be asking potential disability lawyers.
1. Do You Have Experience With Similar Cases?
If a potential attorney has experience handling SSDI cases only for those with cardiovascular diseases, and you have a neurological disorder, you may want to find a different attorney. Having an attorney who is experienced with your particular disability will be beneficial, as they know what the Social Security Administration looks for, how to prove that your condition is preventing you from working, and how to build a strong case.
Make sure your attorney has experience working on cases with similar disabilities to yours.
2. What Is Your Fee?
Most disability attorneys work on a contingency basis and do not require any money upfront. Instead, they charge a certain percentage of your back benefits. This amount is capped by the federal government, though, at $6,000.
However, that fee may increase if your case is denied at the hearing level and goes to the Appeals Council. Before hiring an attorney, ask them about their fee structure and if it changes if the initial application is denied.
3. Are You Trained in Disability Law?
Because the disability process and system are so complex, you will want to avoid a general practice attorney and choose one who specializes in disability law. Look for someone who is a member of the National Organization of Social Security Claimants’ Representatives (NOSSCR).
Members of this organization have specialized training and experience in disability law and also receive continuing education in the area each year.
4. What Expenses Am I Responsible For?
It is likely you will have to pay for case-related expenses, such as medical record requests, examinations by medical specialists, expert witnesses, postage, and other expenses. Ask any potential attorney if you are responsible for these expenses and if you have to pay them upfront or if they are reimbursable.
You’ll also want to clarify if you are responsible for paying for them even if you lose the case, or if you must pay for them only if you win.
5. Who Is Responsible for My Case?
Ask any disability lawyer that you are considering if they will be personally handling your case or if it will be handed off to another person within the firm. If so, be sure you will have the opportunity to meet with that person and know about their skills and experience.
If there are paralegals or legal assistants who work with your attorney, you may be in touch with them often, so ask about meeting them as well.
6. What Is Your Success Record?
Ask potential attorneys what their success record is. How many cases have been successful? How many have been approved on the initial application, how many have been approved after a denial, and how many have they taken to a hearing in front of a judge?
Let their success guide your decision. If they aren’t very successful, you may want to consider another attorney.
7. What Resources Do You Have Available to Build My Case?
Make sure the attorney that you hire has a network of resources to build your case. From dealing with insurance companies to handling your disability claim, you’ll want a lawyer who has access to medical experts and other resources to help prove that your disability prevents you from working.
8. What Can I Expect From the Process?
Your attorney should be clear about the process, how long it may take, and what is expected of you throughout. Make sure you ask about communication, how often it will happen, and how they will communicate.
Ask about pre-hearing meetings and how your attorney will prepare you for a hearing. If the attorney doesn’t have adequate answers for you, consider looking elsewhere.
9. What Do Past Clients Say?
Many attorneys have reviews posted on their websites. You can also check Google reviews and search for your attorney and reviews elsewhere on the internet. Ask them what their past clients have to say about them and do your due diligence.
Make sure the testimonials and reviews corroborate other information you have gotten from them. At the end of the day, go with your gut. Pick someone who you think is a good fit for you and will look out for your best interests.
Hire an Experienced Disability Lawyer
An experienced disability lawyer can help you get your claim approved the first time you apply or help you appeal a denial. Either way, a disability lawyer will have the experience to help you be successful. Their ability to handle the case for you gives you the opportunity to focus on your health and wellness rather than worrying about your disability case.
Here at Sweet Law, we have attorneys who specialize in disability cases. We will provide you with personalized attention and focus on your individual needs to ensure that you get the benefits that you deserve. Contact us today for a free case evaluation.