If you’ve suffered an injury or have been diagnosed with a medical condition that makes it impossible for you to continue working, you can apply to receive Social Security disability benefits. However, the application process can be time-consuming, complicated and a little confusing for most.
Hiring a disability attorney or advocate can help you navigate the process and can also improve your chances of being approved to receive benefits. Although applicants aren’t required to work with a disability attorney, it can definitely help ease some of the stress of applying. A disability attorney will ensure that you understand the application process and that your application addresses all of the important issues that are necessary to best represent your case.
Whether you’ve only recently decided to apply for benefits or you’ve already applied and have been denied, you can turn to the expertise of an experienced social security lawyer at any point in the application process.
Advantages of Hiring a Disability Lawyer
Working with an experienced disability lawyer has several advantages. Most cases that are filed without representation are denied due to the following issues:
- Failure to supply sufficient medical evidence and other required information;
- Failure to meet deadlines; and
- Failure to respond to Social Security Administration (SSA) communications.
A social security disability attorney can help you with all of the above. They will help you gather the correct information and medical documentation regarding your disability. They will also ensure that your information and documentation is submitted in a timely manner that meets all deadlines, and they will continue to follow up with the SSA about the status of your claim.
- They will ensure that you have the right information and documentation to support your case. The process of winning a claim is complicated. Most claims are initially denied, due to lack of medical documentation. If this is true in your case, you will have 60 days to take further action.
- Hiring a social security attorney also ensures better communication between you and the SSA. The application terminology and the paperwork that you must complete might not make sense to you, but it is all familiar to a disability attorney. They can explain the process to you and write and speak on your behalf. In a way, they’ll be your “translator.”
Once you’ve received disability benefits, you will have to periodically check in with the SSA regarding the status of your condition and physical limitations. An attorney can help you keep track of these required follow-ups and ensure that you meet deadlines for these submissions.
- Disability attorneys are experienced. Another advantage of choosing to work with a disability attorney is that they know exactly how to present your unique situation, as well as the correct documentation necessary to prove your case and obtain the benefits that you are entitled to. They can also communicate with your medical professionals on your behalf to gather the necessary documentation.
- You have a better chance of winning and receiving benefits. Studies have shown that claims filed with the assistance of an experienced disability lawyer are three times more likely to be approved. Additionally, if you’ve been denied benefits after applying and you are in the reconsideration phase, you will also have a better chance of being approved for benefits if you hire an attorney.
They will represent you in appeals. In the event that your original claim is denied by the SSA, you will have to complete and submit the appropriate paperwork to file for an appeal. A disability lawyer can assist with the paperwork and file the appeal on your behalf.
They can also help you request a disability hearing, where they can verbally argue your case, and you and your attorney can answer any questions that the administrative law judge (ALJ) may ask. Your attorney will prepare you to answer any questions that the judge might ask, will accompany you to these hearings, and will represent your case in the most favorable light based upon your medical condition and available documentation.
How Much Does a Disability Attorney Cost?
When you reach the point where you can no longer work and need to file for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Social Security Insurance (SSI), you are most likely struggling to make ends meet. You might be thinking, “how am I supposed to afford a disability attorney”?
The good news is that we do not charge disability clients any up-front costs for our social security attorney’s services. The SSA has regulations that govern how a disability attorney is paid.
Social security lawyers work on a contingency basis and do not receive payment until you receive your disability benefits. They cannot charge more than 25 percent of your back pay (for the period from your initial application through approval of your benefits) and are capped at fees of $6,000 total per case.
Additionally, a disability attorney will cover any upfront costs of obtaining medical records necessary to win your case. However, you will most likely be billed for these costs when you receive your disability benefits. Your attorney fee agreement will specify whether these costs are billable to you.
How to Prepare to Meet with a Disability Attorney
Once you’ve decided to consult with a disability attorney regarding your case, you will want to be prepared for your initial meeting. Following is a list of tips to prepare for the meeting:
- Gather all of the necessary information, including your work history, start and end dates of your former/current jobs, any medical records and documentation, a list of current medications, notable upcoming surgeries or procedures, and names and addresses of your doctors. If your initial application was denied, bring copies of all documents that you submitted to the SSA and any communications that you received from the SSA in response to your application.
- Put together a list of questions to ask the attorney; remember, this initial meeting is not only a way for them to decide if they want to represent you but also for you to decide if you want to work with them.
- Be prepared to answer questions regarding your disability or condition, your physical limitations and your application status.
Whether you are about to begin the process of applying for Social Security benefits or you have been denied and need to file an appeal, hiring a disability attorney can give you a better chance of winning your case and getting the financial assistance that you need.