Tips for Finding the Right Disability Attorney
Nothing could be more devastating than a disabling illness or injury. Nothing, that is, except finding out that the Social Security disability claim has been denied. What could be worse than knowing that the only source of viable income will not be provided? What about the living expenses or, worse yet, the medical bills? In some cases, it may be necessary to secure the services of a Social Security disability attorney to assist in obtaining disability benefits.
The Social Security Administration is over saturated with disability claims. Unfortunately, some of those claims are not legitimate ones, leaving the SSA pressed to ensure that any disability resource they distribute go only to those who really need it. What seems like a simple enough task can actually cause legitimate claims to be denied, and although the agency has an appeal process, the claims oftentimes remain denied. Disability lawyers help citizens who are disabled get the disability coverage they need to meet their monthly living expenses and continue to live independently.
A disability attorney is an attorney who specializes in disability law. Many of these disability lawyers consider themselves a Social Security disability attorney; because they spend the years of their practice helping permanently disabled people claim their Social Security disability benefits. Once the SSA denies a disability claim, these disability lawyers step in and aid the disabled in winning their appeal. How does one know if they need to hire the services of a Social Security disability attorney, however?
The SSA has strict rules surrounding who qualifies for permanent Social Security disability benefits. This is due, again, in part to help avoid people from filing illegal disability claims in an effort to obtain free money. Those who qualify for Social Security disability benefits must have contributed to Social Security for a set period of time through their employers, and must also have a qualified disability that will preclude them from work for at least one year. Qualified disabilities include an illness or injury that disables a person from performing their regular work duties or being assigned to another type of job. In other words, the person is physically or mentally unable to work in any capacity. The disability must also be long-term or end in death -- dire circumstances indeed that are only made worse by a denied claim.
The initial Social Security disability application does not require the services of a Social Security disability attorney. Save the money for the disability attorney if the initial claim is denied. The claim for Social Security disability benefits includes filling out an application, providing an Adult Disability Report, and an authorization for your doctors to disclose information about your disability to the SSA. Once the paperwork is filed, the SSA will contact the disabled person with an answer as to whether their claim is accepted or denied. If the disability claim is denied, an appeal must be filed with the Social Security Administration to force further review of the disabled person's need for coverage. This is when it’s time to hire the disability attorney. In some cases, this task might be more intimidating than the appeal; there are tons of disability lawyers out there to choose from. The key is picking the disability attorney that best meets the disabled person's needs.
Disability lawyers that best meet disabled people's needs include lawyers with a good track record of winning appeals against the Social Security Administration. These lawyers should have extensive experience in these types of disability claims, and should be able to confidently tell their client whether they have a legitimate appeal. The disability attorney will also dedicate his or her practice to this type of law, as there are many different types of law that lawyers specialize in. When searching for a disability attorney, look for one who specializes in disability and/or insurance law.
Another criterion for the Social Security disability attorney is that he or she will only ask for a small retainer fee up front prior to being hired. Some will not ask for any money at all until the case is over, but be cautious of disability lawyers who make unrealistic promises, such as you don't pay if you don't win or they guarantee they will win your case. They cannot predict the outcome of the appeal, so make sure to pick a Social Security disability attorney who represents themselves and your case realistically -- if it sounds too good to be true, it is.
The Social Security disability attorney should also make the client feel comfortable and keep them abreast of every aspect of the appeal case. Disabled people who are intimidated or left feeling helpless by the disability attorney should find another one. There is a special relationship between the attorney, who is being entrusted to win an appeal, and the disabled person who is counting on them. Make sure that the disabled person feels comfortable when dealing with the disability attorney; otherwise, it's time to dive back into the pool of disability lawyers.
Finally, always check the Social Security disability attorney out before hiring him or her. Contact the American Bar Association and run a check on the disability lawyers to make sure they are properly licensed. Contact the state District Attorney's Office to make sure the attorney does not have any pending action or citations. Ask the attorney for references from other clients, and follow through by contacting the previous clients to discuss their experience with the attorney. It's better to be safe than sorry when hiring a Social Security disability attorney, because worrying about the appeal is stressful enough; worrying about the attorney makes the entire process unbearable.