In Social Security disability cases, receiving the right legal assistance can be the difference between a successful and unsuccessful benefits claim. You are not obliged to have legal representation for your case; however, disability claimants with legal representation have a greater statistical likelihood of being approved for benefits, particularly at the hearing level. Assuming you hire a lawyer, here are the things you should check to ensure that you choose the right one.
When you speak to a prospective lawyer, find out how much experience they have dealing with Social Security disability cases. Ask how long they have handled these types of cases for, and what percentage of their practice works on these cases. Some law firms only represent disability claimants occasionally, which makes it hard for them to stay up to date with new rules and regulations that are introduced. Furthermore, these firms might know little about the judges who preside over these cases, which is a significant disadvantage. Ideally, you should look for a law firm that specializes in Social Security disability cases, such as Friedman Disability Attorneys (http://www.friedmandisability.com).
Find out what your prospective lawyer’s success rate is with Social Security disability cases. Largely, the outcome of these cases is determined by the medical evidence. The lawyer you hire should thoroughly assess the evidence to decide whether they can prove you have a disability. Should the evidence fail to support your claim, a reputable lawyer will inform you of this and not pursue the case, unless more favorable evidence can be produced. You should search for a law firm with a strong track record of success.
Inquire whether your prospective lawyer has much trial experience. A trial lawyer is skilled at developing evidence, presenting it in court and arguing the case before a jury or judge. Often, Social Security disability cases go to hearings with Administrative Law Judges. It is sensible to hire an experienced trial lawyer to represent you at these hearings.
Ask the lawyer how they will approach developing your case. The lawyer you hire should gather relevant medical records during the process, and not just prior to your hearing in front of the Administrative Law Judge. Lawyers with medical expertise will understand your disability, and be better placed to organize and present the evidence to the judge. Moreover, to further strengthen your case, your lawyer ought to collect special disease questionnaires and disability reports from your treating physicians, to demonstrate how your physical condition stops you from working.
Typically, adequate representation can be provided by either a legal or non-legal representative at the first stage of application, and at the first two appeal levels. Indeed, many non-legal representatives used to be Social Security claims representatives and disability examiners. Undoubtedly, though, for Appeals Council hearings, you will need a lawyer. Hence, from the outset, you might as well use a disability lawyer, because you will pay the same amount for legal and non legal representation.
Article written by David Garland