Disability benefits may be a lifeline for you and your family when a serious medical condition stops you from working or significantly decreases your earnings ability.
Getting approved can sometimes be difficult though, and you may need an attorney’s assistance, but you also know that not just any lawyer will do. You’ll want to find a disability attorney that can help you through the entire process, including an appeal, if one is necessary.
Area of Expertise and Track Record
Disability attorneys have a unique focus and have time honing their knowledge and expertise in areas of disability law. They understand the ins and outs of the Social Security Administration’s (SSA’s) rules and regulations and can quickly advise you on disability topics.
The right attorney is also one that has been through the process with other clients. They know how to handle a claim like yours and the kinds of challenges you’ll face during the disability review.
An appropriate attorney will be willing to provide you a clear and concise picture of his or her track record, including approval rates at the initial review and appeals stages as well as how many claims have been won for full vs. partial benefits.
Availability and Dedication
You need legal counsel that understands the importance of your claim for benefits. He or she must be dedicated to providing quality service and must have the time available to give you and your claim the focus necessary for success. In other words, you need an attorney that can and will be available to see you through the entire process, no matter how long it takes or how complicated it gets.
Many disability lawyers work as part of a legal firm and therefore have partners that can address your concerns when your attorney isn’t available. A team of attorneys, legal assistants, and paralegals can field your calls, answer questions, and give you timely advice. Your lawyer may not always be in available to deal with you directly. You should however always be able to speak with a person at the firm you hire or at least receive timely return calls after leaving messages.
Professionalism and Honesty
From the moment your first phone call is answered to the end of your free disability consultation, the manner in which you’re treated gives you a good snapshot of how professional and courteous the entire staff is at a disability practice. Legal firms that specialize in disability claims are notoriously busy, but you should still receive good service, polite communications, and knowledgeable advice, from start to finish.
The attorney you’re considering hiring should also be honest and forthright with you, and not make unrealistic claims about winning your case. Instead, you should be informed of statistics with disability claims, including how many must go to appeals court before a final eligibility decision is achieved. You should also be apprised of a realistic timetable for a disability case, which can take a year or more to go through the initial review, and even longer if an appeal is necessary.
Getting Help with Your Social Security Claim
Although legal representation isn’t required to file a disability claim, you may wish to consider a free consultation with a disability attorney even before starting your application for benefits. A knowledgeable Social Security lawyer can advise you on the best strategies in your case and give you a better understanding of how the disability review will proceed.