Checking the credentials of a Social Security Disability Lawyer

Again, advice from a forum (I begin to wonder if I will ever run out of these -- possibly not since I keep finding new forums to quote from).

"When you check on getting a disability lawyer, ask questions. What is their track record? How often do they do win their disability cases. You don't want a lawyer who doesn't win most of his cases".

Hmmm. In theory, there's nothing heinously wrong with asking such questions. But theory is one thing and practice is another.

Think about it. If you call a disability lawyer on the phone and tell him that you are looking for representation but only want an attorney who meets certain qualifications, how are you going to ascertain those qualifications? By asking him questions like this? You can ask away, but I doubt it will do much good.

For example, if you ask a Social Security Disability attorney the question "what is your track record on handling disability cases?", you'll probably be answered with "My track record is very good". Why on earth would he (or she) say otherwise? And even if the attorney's track record is not so bright and shining, how would you know?

Second example: You ask the attorney "How many of your cases do you win?" Is it even remotely concievable that a disability lawyer with a poor record of representation is going to answer such a question with "I win about about thirty percent of my cases"? If he has brain damage, maybe he will. But, of course not, because everytime he gave such an answer he would be turning away opportunities to gain new clients to represent.

So, in theory, being advised to ask a prospective disability lawyer about his or her "track record" is not particularly useful.

How do you gauge the quality of someone you may be about to hire? That's a hard question to answer. You'll probably have to rely on a combination of the following:

1. Your first impressions.
2. Your gut instinct.
3. And your own appraisal of how well they have handled your own case up to a certain point -- i.e. if they miss appeal deadlines, never return your calls, and never seem to know the status of your may want to consider a different person to handle your Social Security Disability or SSI disability claim.

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.

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