Developing Theory For Your Case
Before your hearing, your lawyer will also develop a theory for why you are disabled, and use this as a strategy to present your case in court. The possible theories for your disability include:
Your condition meets a disability listingYou cant perform your prior jobs, a.k.a., you grid outYou cant perform even a sedentary, or sit-down, job
Do I Need To Hire A Lawyer To Apply For Social Security Disability Benefits
Applying for Social Security Disability is a complicated process with many opportunities to have your application stalled or denied. In many cases, it is possible to apply on your own and get your application accepted, even without an attorney. However, hiring an attorney to help you with your application process can be a huge help. Especially without prior experience applying for;disability benefits;for a family member, it can be a daunting task. Talk to a;social;security disability lawyer;at Young, Marr, and Associates today for a free consultation on your disability case and help to understand the benefits of working with an attorney.
How Is A Disability Lawyer Paid
Attorneys who represent disability claimants understand that you dont have the money to spend on attorney fees when you cannot work and need medical treatment. Finding a way to pay for medical attention is often a challenge for disability claimants.;;
Many disability lawyers, myself included, do not charge an upfront fee. Instead, we work on a contingency fee basis. This means that you dont pay an attorney fee unless the Social Security Administration allows your claim for SSDI or SSI benefits. If you lose your request, you dont have to pay your attorney.;
The SSA will pay the attorney fee directly, and only after reviewing your fee agreement to make sure it is fair. Fees are paid from past-due benefits you are awarded. This means both you and your attorney have an interest in not only winning your claim but in getting the SSA to award benefits as far back as possible.;
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Online Reviews For Social Security Disability Lawyers
You may want to begin your search for a disability lawyer with an internet search for Social Security disability attorney & advocacy services near me. The search should produce a list of disability lawyers. Carefully read the online reviews for each law firm or attorney you consider. You may also want to check attorney review sites such as Avvo or Lawyers.com. However, do not rely on online reviews only.;
Contact the Better Business Bureau and the state bar association to ask about pending and past complaints against the attorney or law firm. You can also check Social Media websites for reviews and ask friends, family, and co-workers for recommendations.;
Who Pays For Legal Costs
There are two kinds of expenses in a case: the amount the lawyer charges for her time and the expenses she pays for while working on your case. In a typical Social Security case, an attorney will pay copying fees and postage to get records to help prove that a claimant is disabled. Those records might be located at hospitals, doctors’ offices, schools, or mental health facilities, among other places. Some facilities may give the lawyer your records for free, but most places charge a fee to copy your file, sometimes as much as 25 cents per page . Usually, copying and mailing costs in a case are not more than $100 – $200.
While lawyers in Social Security disability cases cannot charge upfront fees for their time, they are allowed to charge a reasonable upfront fee to cover expected expenses in a case. So some attorneys will ask you to pay a small amount in advance to cover the costs associated with your case. If the costs are paid in advance, then the attorney must hold your money in a special account called a “trust account.” The lawyer will tell you when he or she withdraws money from the account and will return any money left over at the end of the case.
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Collect And Organize Medical Evidence
Medical evidence is one of the crucial elements of a disability claim. Your qualifying disability must be verifiable through medical evidence. Your disability attorney gathers medical evidence and organizes that evidence for the SSA. Even though the SSA may request additional information from your doctors, having the medical evidence available and organized can ensure that you are ready if you must petition for reconsideration if your initial claim is denied.;
Consider Whats At Stake
Before you give up on your right to Social Security disability benefits, consider what will happen to you financially if you do not get benefits. Social Security disability made a significant difference for one of our clients, James W. James wrote to us and said, “I went to call the bank to check my balance today because I was three dollars short on paying my rent. They told me there was a $36,000 check there from Social Security. I couldn’t believe it. I wasn’t even going to have a Christmas this year, so I want to thank everyone so much for all of their help . . . I keep pinching myself to make sure this is really true.” Testimonials;like these are what keep us in the battle for your rights.
An experienced disability lawyer should provide you with personal attention and a good working relationship. For help with a Social Security disability application in Massachusetts, Rhode Island, or New Hampshire, please call us or reach out to us via this website at any time. Additionally, we encourage you to download our FREE book, Unlocking the Mystery: The Essential Guide for Navigating the Social Security Disability Claims Process, for more information.
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Nine Situations Where You Need A Disability Lawyer
Earlier in this article, I explained when you might not need to hire a lawyer for your SSDI or SSI claim at least not right away.
Now lets talk about some situations where I recommend hiring a Social Security Disability attorney immediately and with no hesitation.
If any of the following statements are true, call a disability lawyer:
- You know yourself and know that you will have difficulty completing and following up on the paperwork needed to prosecute your claim.
- You dont feel like handling the claim on your own for whatever reason.
- You dont have the time to represent yourself because of family obligations or medical appointments.;
- Your medical condition prevents you from representing yourself as effectively as possible. For example, a back injury, past spinal fusion, or osteoarthritis affecting your knees may make it difficult to get around to gather the documents you need to win. Or traumatic brain injury resulting in post-concussion syndrome, PTSD, depression, or anxiety may make it difficult to deal with people or focus on the tasks needed to win.;
- You have a learning disability, limited education, or difficulty speaking or understanding English.;
- You have received at least one denial from the SSA and need to file a request for reconsideration or a hearing.;
- You are receiving long term disability benefits, and a company has contacted you on behalf of the long term disability insurance company and offered to help.;
Talk To A Disability Lawyer
Need a lawyer? Start here.
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How A Disability Advocate Can Help You With Your Appeal
Instead of hiring a lawyer for your social security disability appeal, consider getting an advocate. Unlike social security disability appeal lawyers, advocates have specialized knowledge of disability rules. In fact, disability advocates must be certified by the SSA to represent claimants.
At GAR Disability Advocates, our specialists help with every step of the benefits application. This includes the initial claim, the reconsideration appeal, and the disability hearing. Most importantly, our advocates work on a contingency fee basis. If you dont get approved for disability benefits, you owe us nothing.
If you would like to apply for SSI or SSDI benefits with an advocate, call us 201-720-1434 or fill out our online form for a free evaluation of your claim.
Ways Your Attorney Can Improve Your Chances
Social Security Disability attorneys understand the application process. They know how to present your case in a way that makes your disability obvious and not a matter of conjecture, and can assist you in obtaining the necessary medical documentation from your doctor and the hospitals where you received treatment. A lawyer can help you understand the Blue Book listing and make sure you meet the criteria. The risk of your claim being rejected due to insufficient medical proof of disability is greatly reduced.
Once your application is submitted, your attorney will check in with the SSA on your behalf and give you updates as they become available.
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Can My Disability Lawyer Request More Money For Attorney Fees
In some cases, the SSA permits a Social Security disability attorney to petition for additional attorney fees if your case required a lot of extra work or involved an appeal. However, in most cases, it is rare for an attorney to receive more than the maximum attorney fee for Social Security disability claims.
Documentation For Your Disability Claim
The Social Security Administration requires that people submit medical records to substantiate their disability. An attorney can help you gather crucial documents that will support your case. Your medical records act as evidence to back up your claim. Lack of evidence could cause SS officials to deny you the disability benefits you deserve. If youre having trouble obtaining your records from a hospital or physicians office, your attorney can help speed up the process. The sooner your medical records get into the hands of your SS office, the sooner they can process your claim.
Your attorney can also help you complete forms relating to daily activities or work history which are pivotal to deciding your case. Incomplete or contrasting answers on these forms could cause officials to deny your claim. In order to make a good judgment, SS officials need a complete picture of your medical state. Your attorney will ensure you provide SS with all the information they need to make a fair judgment concerning your case.
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What To Remember When Filing An Ssdi Claim
Each claim is different. A short brochure such as this one cannot completely prepare you to present your case, and an attorney cannot determine in advance how a judge will rule in a case. There are, however, some simple rules to follow:
- Always tell the truth.
- Never exaggerate your medical problems, but never minimize them either.
- Provide all relevant details and specific examples but dont ramble in your testimony.
- Continue to see your own doctor on a regular basis throughout your claim. Long periods of time with no medical treatment could be used as evidence that you were not disabled during that time.
Dont worry. Your attorney will be there to help you if you forget something or dont bring out the necessary details at your administrative hearing.
Disability Lawyers Can Handle Claim Denials And Appeals
Sometimes disability claims are denied, despite efforts to the contrary. When this happens, your attorney can instigate an investigation into the denial and request a claim review or file for an appeal, depending on his or her findings. An appeal would require that your attorney argue the case in court before an administrative law judge. Unlike the average layman, an experienced disability lawyer wont be intimidated by a court appearance, making him or her the perfect candidate for the job.
Taking into consideration the many aspects involved in filing for SSD benefits, a Social Security disability lawyer can be a tremendous asset in a disability case. Working with a qualified lawyer could be key to the success of your case. Look for an attorney who has your best interests at heart, has experience with SS claims and is willing to go the extra mile to see you get a fair judgment in your case.
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Why Should I Speak To A Disability Lawyer If I Havent Applied
Filing for Social Security Disability benefits can be a complicated and confusing process. Most applicants dont know how to fill out the necessary paperwork and submit the correct medical documentation. This is a primary reason why over 65% of disability claims are originally denied.
While you dont technically need an attorney to represent you during the application process, hiring one can improve your chances of a successful claim. Statistics have shown that the Social Security Administration is more likely to approve someone who is represented by an attorney. Fill out your information to receive a free case evaluation. Start the disability benefits process today.
What Can I Do To Help My Claim
No matter what Social Security Disability lawyer you hire, they will need your participation and cooperation to win your claim. The more you can do to help your claim, the better. Ask at your initial meeting what you can do to help increase the chances that you will win. The attorney might suggest gathering certain documents, getting regular medical treatment, and following the medical advice of your physician. Be willing to follow the suggestions of your attorney.
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Representing You At Appeals
If your original claim is denied, your attorney will represent you at any necessary appeals, such as reconsideration and hearing proceedings. He or she can collect and submit key medical evidence, communicate with your doctor and any other medical professionals who have treated you, and prepare you for any questions that the administrative law judge may ask. They may also be able to move your case forward more quickly, especially if you are in dire financial need or your condition is terminal.
At the hearing, your attorney will guide your testimony so that the judge has a proper understanding of how your disability has impacted your ability to work. If appearing at a hearing is impossible given your condition, your attorney can request an OTR decision from the judge, making it possible for your claim to be approved without a hearing.
A Man Who Represents Himself
There is an old adage that states that a man who represents himself in court has a fool for a client. In some Social Security Disability cases, this may prove true. If you decide to represent yourself during your disability appeal and you lose your case because of it, you will likely have to re-apply for benefits all over again.
This resets the clock and delays your ability to receive Social Security Disability benefits. It can take more than a year to be scheduled for a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge.
Unless you want to wait another year during a second application process, you should probably have a disability attorney representing you the first time around.
While no attorney can guarantee that you will receive the disability benefits you are applying for, a qualified Social Security attorney can greatly increase your chances of being approved for Social Security Disability benefits.
If you do not have an attorney representing your case, you may waste years of time, effort and money trying to represent yourself. In the end, you may have to turn to the services of a qualified attorney when you are forced to file a second claim for Social Security Disability benefits.
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What Does It Cost To Hire A Social Security Disability Lawyer
If you decide to hire a lawyer to represent you at any stage of the SSA disability process, you should know how that lawyer is paid. First and foremost, you do not pay the lawyer any fees that are not part of your settlement. Federal law regulates this.;You only pay if the lawyer succeeds in getting your benefits for you. A common arrangement is to pay the lawyer 25 percent of back payments owed to you, with a cap of $6,000. The SSA pays the lawyer directly, so you never have to write a single check, unless some fees are charged for expenses. This may include the cost of getting medical records.
Disability Benefits By The Numbers
Millions of Americans apply for SSD benefits each year. More than 3.5 million people applied for Social Security Disability in 2016 alone. Approximately 9 million people were receiving SSD benefits in 2016, according to the Social Security Administration .
Similarly, the VA receives about 350,000 applications each month for veterans disability benefits. As of 2016, the last year for which comprehensive data is available, more than 4 million veterans received disability benefits, according to the Department of Veterans Affairs.
Most benefits applications, however, are rejected upon their initial submission. And while both the SSA and the VA provide options for appeal, appealing a denied claim can be time-consuming and frustrating.
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