Did you know that over half of all social security disability claims are denied when they are initially filed? Common denial reasons range from refusal to follow medical treatment plans to a lack of medical evidence in your filing. The process is difficult to navigate on your own, especially since so many claims are initially denied.
If you are starting the process of applying for social security disability (SSD) or had your initial claim denied, you may want to consider hiring a lawyer for your Social Security disability claim or to fight your denial. Keep reading to learn more about how an attorney can benefit you and what you should look for.
Understand the Basics of Social Security Disability
You may be eligible for social security disability (SSD) if you have a medical condition that prohibits you from working. If you have an injury or disability that meets the Social Security Administration’s (SSA) definition of a disability, you may be eligible to get monthly benefit checks if you are unable to work for at least one year.
However, there is a caveat: you must have worked a job in the past that was covered by Social Security. If you didn’t pay into Social Security, you won’t be eligible.
Many times your initial claim is denied because the SSA claims that your medical condition isn’t an approved disability. A lawyer can help you fight this denial and will greatly increase your success.
Do Your Research
You can choose to hire an attorney after your claim is denied, or you can try to improve your chances of success from the start and hire an attorney to guide you through the entire process. Either way, you’ll need to do your research to find an attorney who specializes in SSD cases and is knowledgeable about the process.
You can find many attorneys to take your case, but don’t just settle for anyone. There are certain things you should look for before you consider them. Asking friends and family for recommendations is useful, but absent personal recommendations, you’ll need to do some digging to find reviews and testimonials about an attorney’s success.
Don’t just rely on the Internet, however. Once you put together a list of potential attorneys, scour their websites and ask around if anyone has knowledge of them. You can check your state bar association to see if they have any complaints filed against them or have been disciplined.
Ultimately, try to narrow down your list to 3-5 potential attorneys and then start contacting them. You can ask to meet with them, speak to them over the phone, or communicate with someone at their office who can answer your questions.
You can find out a lot of information on potential attorneys from their websites, online reviews, and word-of-mouth, but beyond that, you’ll want to talk directly to them or someone at their firm to learn more about their success rates, services they offer, their experience, and their knowledge of your specific medical situation.
Some questions you should ask include:
- Are you licensed in this state?
- How many cases do you handle each year?
- What is your success rate?
- How long have you practiced in this area?
- How many appeals have you handled?
- Is there someone in the firm who will manage my case?
- How often will my case manager communicate with me?
- How long will the case take?
- What is your fee structure (there are rules for how much attorneys can charge)?
- Will there be upfront costs for medical records (even if the firm covers the charge up front, you will most likely have to repay it whether you win or lose your case, so have an idea of how much your records will cost)?
- What method do you use for SSD cases?
- What can I do to help my case?
- Will we have planning sessions to plan for an appeal hearing?
- Am I eligible for other benefits?
- How should I contact you?
It’s important to choose a lawyer who is successful, but also one that you can work with. Some SSD cases can take months or even years to resolve, so hiring an attorney who you can stand to work with for the long haul is beneficial. If you don’t like their work style or think you can communicate with them for this amount of time, it’s probably smart to choose a different attorney.
Social Security Attorney Methods and Payments
Not all SSD cases are created equal. There are different methods your SSD attorney may use, including:
- Medical source statements (MSS), which come from your medical treatment provider
- Expedited hearings
- Vocational evaluations, where an expert in workplace skills details how your disability impacts your ability to work
- Consultative exams, where a medical expert examines you and provides information about your disability and restrictions
An experienced attorney will be able to examine your case and utilize the best method and strategy to increase the likelihood that your case is successful.
When it comes to payment, most attorneys do not require payment upfront. Instead, they get paid if you win. Most will charge you 25% of your past-due SSD benefits, but the Social Security Administration caps this amount at $6,000.
Make sure you understand how your attorney charges and who will pay the costs for medical records, vocational evaluations, or consultative exams. If you must pay them upfront, that should be clear before you agree to work with the attorney.
Do You Need a Lawyer for Social Security Disability Benefits?
If you are unable to work, you may be eligible for support from the Social Security Administration, but only if you meet certain requirements. Because these cases are complex and are often initially denied, it’s smart to hire a lawyer for your Social Security disability case.
If you are in need of a lawyer to handle your case from start to finish or to handle an appeal, contact us today for a free case consultation. Our attorneys specialize in disability law.