Disability Lawyers and Finding your Disability Lawyer
Some individuals consider the issue of representation before they even file a Social Security Disability or SSI disability claim. And some individuals consider finding a lawyer after they have received a notice of denial from the social security administration. However, the majority of all claimants typically have the same questions about disability lawyers and here are just a few.
Question 1: Are lawyers required for filing appeals on disability claims?
Answer: No, disability lawyers are not required for this. If you file a claim for disability benefits with SSA (social security administration) and get denied, you can file the appeal yourself. How do you file a Social Security Disability or SSI appeal? Fairly easy. You can do the appeal online. Or, if you prefer to file a paper appeal, just call the social security office where you applied, notify them that you'd like to submit an appeal, wait for them to send you the appeal paperwork, complete the paperwork, and return it. Ideally, you should do this within just a few days of receiving your denial notice (you are alloted 60 days in which to file an appeal, and this applies to internet appeals, but don't wait to do this any longer than necessary).
Question 2: Do lawyers increase the odds of winning disability cases?
Answer: Disability lawyers can certainly improve the odds of winning claims for disability benefits and can influence the outcome of a case at the intial claim phase, first appeal phase known as the reconsideration, and disability hearing phase. However, in most cases, disability lawyers make their greatest impact at the disability hearing level at which a claimant's case is presented before an administrative law judge. At a disability hearing, a claimant's lawyer can present a rationale (based on a knowledge of social security rules and regulations) as to why a claimant should be approved for continuing disability benefits.
Competent disability representatives can enhance your chances of winning your claim because they will understand the following:
Question 3: How expensive are disability lawyers?
Answer: Obtaining assistance from lawyers in various fields can be fairly expensive due to upfront fees. Fortunately, for individuals attempting to win Social Security Disability or SSI disability benefits, the social security administration regulates how disability lawyers may receive their fees.
How are disability lawyers paid? Disability lawyers receive a percentage of a claimant's backpay as their fee. Currently, this percentage is set at one-fourth of whatever backpay is owed to an individual who has won their claim for benefits. This is the current maximum fee for a disability attorney or representative.
The system that regulates how disability lawyers are paid is beneficial in a number of ways. First of all, claimants are not required to pay anything upfront (which makes the issue of finding representation much less complicated). Secondly, no fee is paid to a lawyer unless a case has been won (meaning a lawyer has every incentive to do a competent job of handling a case).
All this said, however, some representatives and attorneys will charge for incidental expenses which can include travel expenses, the cost of obtaining medical records (which are seldom ever free from doctors and hospitals), etcera. Reimbursement to a representative for getting the medical records obtained is a completely valid expense and is beneficial to claimants because it allows them to avoid this as an upfront expense and to reimburse the representative when the case is concluded. As to other incidentals, all claimants are advised to read the fee contracts presented to them before they sign them and agree to being billed for these charges.
Question 4: When should you consider getting a disability lawyer?
Answer: A person who files for disability benefits may obtain a lawyer at any point in the process. Or not. Their is no requirement to have a lawyer or representative.
That said, however, it is always advisable to have a lawyer at a hearing. Statistically, the use of disability lawyers at hearings increases the chances of winning by about 50 percent (roughly 40 percent of claimants who go to hearings without lawyers win their claims while roughly 60 percent of claimants who go to hearings with lawyers win their claims). Also, claimants who have received a notice of denial on a claim may wish to consider finding representation since this will typically mean that a disability hearing will be necessary. In fact, statistically, a person who has been denied on an application for disability will nearly always have to attend a hearing in order to be approved.
About the Author: Tim Moore is a former Social Security Disability Examiner in North Carolina, has been interviewed by the NY Times and the LA Times on the disability system, and is an Accredited Disability Representative (ADR) in North Carolina. For assistance on a disability application or Appeal in NC, click here.
Most popular topics on SSDRC.com
Social Security Disability in North Carolina
Common Mistakes to avoid after being denied for Disability
Tips to Prepare for Filing for Social Security Disability or SSI
Advice to Win SSD and SSI Benefit Claims
Social Security Disability SSI Questions
What is the difference between Social Security Disability and SSI?
How to get disability for depression
Getting disability for fibromyalgia
SSI disability for children with ADHD
What is the Application Process for Social Security Disability and SSI?
Social Security Disability SSI Exam tips
More Social Security Disability SSI Questions
What makes you eligible for Social Security Disability or SSI?
How much does a Social Security Disability attorney get paid?
How will an attorney help me win disability benefits?
Can a disability attorney speed up my disability case?
Disability Lawyers, Medical Records, and Social Security Hearings
Why do I need an attorney for Social Security Disability?
Why does Social Security or DDS disregard my doctor's statement supporting my case?
When you file for disability do you have to see their doctors?
Social Security Disability Approval and Denial Rates
Social Security Attorneys and Disability Representatives
Disability lawyers - basic questions for Social Security help