What Does a Social Security Attorney Do?
Social Security attorneys give legal representation and advice specifically on security and disability issues. They work together with their clients throughout the SSI or SSDI application process, helping them to understand what is required of them and making sure they are following the proper protocol. They teach clients what the SSA is looking for and what they emphasize while making their claim. They may also be familiar with certain Administrative Law Judges or other figures that may be involved in your case and can act as an informed advocate for you. Social Security attorneys also help clients who have previously been denied benefits. It is not always clear why a claim has been denied, but Social Security attorneys are trained to understand how to help clients if they have been denied to prepare a successful application. Attorneys can also be very helpful when gathering evidence for their clients’ cases, understanding what questions to ask their doctors or healthcare providers and to obtain the proper medical records.
What Kind of Qualifications Do They Have?
Social Security lawyers have attended a three-year graduate program to receive their law degrees and have become certified by passing state exams that will allow them to legally practice law. While in school, they complete courses on Social Security law, disabilities, legal writing, and civil procedure (under which Social Security claims fall). While there is no specific Social Security disability law degree, attorneys can belong to professional organizations such as the Social Security/Disability Trial Lawyers Association, where they are further educated on matters only concerning Social Security.
Hire When You First Consider Applying
If you are reading this, you are likely considering applying for Social Security disability benefits. Now is the time to call an attorney to get help. We recommend consulting with a Social Security disability attorney even if you are considering filling out an application because attorneys generally give free consultations and can help you determine whether you have a legitimate chance of receiving benefits. Do you have to hire an attorney? No. Not every case needs the help of a lawyer. However, if you do hire one, you should consider making that phone call before you begin your application so that you will have representation from the start. This will give you the best possible chance to win your case.
How Attorneys Can Expedite the Process
One of the most attractive reasons for hiring a disability attorney is that they can help speed up both the application process and the decision-making process. This is important if you specifically have a terminal condition or if you are in particularly grievous financial circumstances. In certain cases, attorneys can request on-the-record decisions (OTR’s) of the administrative law judge so that he can make a decision without having to schedule a hearing. However, this is not a guarantee. Often these requests are denied, but hiring an attorney will increase your chances of success. Source: NOLO
What to Expect When Hiring An Attorney
When you first contact an attorney, you will almost always be given a free initial consultation. Either an attorney or one of the legal staff on hand at the firm will conduct an interview to gather the case facts and determine whether they will be accepting your claim. Often these interviews will be conducted over the phone because the interviewer is experienced and trained in determining whether a claim has a good chance of being approved by the SSA (this is why it is vital to choose an attorney who is dedicated to Social Security!) If an attorney declines to help you, you might want to reconsider your decision to apply for Social Security.
If you win, the attorney gets 25% of your past-due benefits up to a maximum of $6,000. If you don’t win, the attorney was nearly free. There will be certain small-fees incurred that will depend on the specific attorney.
The Key to Hiring the Right Attorney
If a lawyer is a general practitioner or one who specializes in criminal cases, they are probably not the right attorney to represent you in a Social Security disability case. You want to find an attorney who is dedicated to working on Social Security cases every day. Consider the following qualifications:
- Social Security is the focus of the attorney’s practice
- The attorney knows and understands how to educate your doctors on what the SSA requires
- He or she already has the necessary forms you will need, including the RFC form
- The attorney can dedicate his or her time to you, rather than “handing you off” to another attorney or assistant in the firm
Besides the above-mentioned qualifications, make sure that the attorney is dedicated to you and your cause, understands your situation, and will be able to adequately articulate that situation to the the SSA.
At Summit Disability Law Group, we understand that you may have many questions about what to do concerning your Social Security application. We are dedicated to providing first-class service to every one of our clients. Call today for a free Social Security disability rights analysis!