When to Call a Social Security Disability Lawyer

When to Call a Social Security Disability Lawyer

You are disabled and cannot work, and have either filed a Social Security disability claim , or are thinking about it. When should you call in reinforcements? A legal representative can help you at any stage of the process, but it is important to understand the costs and benefits of hiring one.

How much will it cost me?

The Social Security Administration (SSA) has issued guidelines for how legal representatives should be paid. Most reputable firms adhere to these guidelines through the administrative hearing level of appeal (the fee structure changes if appeal to Federal District Court becomes necessary).

If you are successful, you will receive a back-award of benefits for the period you have been waiting. Your representative’s fee will be 25% of this back-award or $6,000, whichever amount is less. Most representatives will front the costs of your claim (primarily the cost of obtaining copies of your medical records), and will ask you to reimburse those out-of-pocket costs when you receive your back-award. You usually do not have to come up with any money before or during representation – everything is settled at the end when you get your back-award of benefits. If you do not receive a back-award, no fee is owed, but you may still be responsible for reimbursing costs.

So when is the best time to call a Social Security Disability Representative?

The earlier the better. If you have not yet filed a claim and are contemplating the idea, you may want to call a disability lawyer to determine if you may be eligible, and what to expect from the process. Most representatives are more than happy to provide information over the telephone, without charge.

Depending on your particular circumstances, a representative can help file the initial application, or direct you to the SSA office where the application can be filed. In our office we help clients file applications, unless there is an issue that needs to be handled directly by the SSA office. That in-person appointment usually takes 1-2 hours.

Many people who apply for social security disability wait until after their claim has been denied to hire an attorney. About 1/3 of the claims are approved by SSA at the Initial level, without the assistance of a representative. In those cases, not having a representative will save you the cost of a fee.

If you have applied for disability and your claim has been denied, do not despair. Keep in mind that 2/3 of the claims are denied by SSA at the initial level of review. At this point, legal representation is recommended. Not only does legal counsel help with the success of your case it can keep things moving in the right direction to get you the disability benefits you need and deserve. In cases involving a terminal illness or extreme financial issues such as foreclosure, a lawyer can request an “on the record” decision, which is an approval based entirely on the medical record, without the need for a disability hearing.

For more information on social security disability claims please contact the team at Maddox and Laffoon. We are here to listen and help.

Arthritis Sufferers and SSDI Benefits

Arthritis Sufferers and SSDI Benefits

Much of the elderly population in the United States suffers from the disease of arthritis, but were you aware that many young people also are also affected by this debilitating disease? Approximately two thirds of Americans that suffer from arthritis are actually under the age of 65. This means they're working force age and arthritis can be and is affecting their performance at many of their jobs.Arthritis Sufferers and SSDI Benefits

Believe it or not, arthritis is one of the most common causes of disability in the country. Not only is this true, but the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also expect more Americans to be diagnosed with this condition as time goes on. Arthritis can be quite serious as it places physical limitations on many of its sufferers making it hard or impossible to do some work tasks. It's estimated that one third of people with arthritis suffer from related physical limitations.

Groups like the Arthritis Foundation are trying to raise awareness for the seriousness of this disease and the impact it can have on individuals. These groups say that the disease is not often seen as a big deal because it doesn't have a high mortality rate in comparison to other conditions. This may be so, but people need to be aware of the suffering and hardship that arthritis does cause for those who suffer from it. Arthritis can really affect a person's life and their ability to work.

In fact, arthritis can really be a crippling disease. When younger people suffer from this condition, they often work slower and find it difficult to complete tasks at work due to the pain and physical limitations that it causes. Arthritis sufferers that struggle at work or can't work may be surprised to know but SHOULD realize that they can apply for Social Security Disability Benefits. These benefits can help individuals pay for basic monthly expenses and medical bills that can otherwise be difficult to afford. 

Disability is No Respecter of Age

Disability is No Respecter of Age

A disability can be crippling…and not just to an individual's body but also to their ability to earn a living. Disability can also harm a family's overall financial plan. It can harm it even more so than the death of the "bread winner" in the family. This is so because the disabled individual still has expenses to pay including medical and that of ongoing care.Disability is No Respecter of Age

The answer to such a family tragedy is a thing called disability insurance. However, many family's financial plans don't include this because they simply don't see themselves ever needing it. This is not wise. Disability insurance should be seen as an essential part of the family unit's financial plan.

Did you know that according to the U.S. Census Bureau in 2010, approximately 19% of the U.S population was living with a disability? Additionally, about 40% of those were individuals of the working force age of between 18 and 64 years old. The Social Security Administration projects that one in four of today's 20-somethings will become disabled before they hit their mid 60s.

As you can see, just as important as saving for retirement or college or having an emergency fund, is also having disability insurance. None of us knows what tomorrow has in store. Therefore, obtaining disability insurance is a basic wise and caring action to do for ourselves and loved ones.

There are three types of disability insurance. They are: employer sponsored plans, private individual insurance and government sponsored plans like Social Security Disability.

Most people assume Social Security will automatically take care of them should they become disabled. This is a common misconception. The reality is it can be very hard to get approved for Social Security disability benefits. In fact, in 2010, about 65% of initial Social Security Disability Insurance claims were denied.

A second misconception the majority of people have is that disability occurs due to accidents. In actuality, most disability occurs due to illness.

The fact is disability can happen to ANYONE at ANYTIME and for reasons you might be surprised by. Do the right thing and educate yourself and prepare yourself as well as your family. 

How Will a Disability Lawyer Handle my Claim?

How Will a Disability Lawyer Handle my Claim?

All lawyers and firms work differently when handling disability claims for their clients, but there are certain similarities in how they all manage and prepare cases in preparation for a disability hearing.How Will a Disability Lawyer Handle my Claim?

1) IN THE BEGINNING: First off, either by phone or in person, the disability lawyer or a member of their staff will conduct an interview with you to get all the basic facts and information about your cases. This is also what initially helps them decide if they will even be handling  your case.

If it is their staff member interviewing you, don't worry, they're trained to recognize the signs of a case that will have great success. If the staff member thinks your case is border line or "special" then the lawyer will review it themselves. If the lawyer thinks your case would be a hard one to win, they'll probably decline representing  you.

2) PREP AND DEVELOPMENT: Now, your lawyer or staff member will request and collect all of your medical records( see: How Do I Prove My Disability to the Social Security Administration?)You will be asked to sign a medical privacy release allowing your attorney access to your medical records. The lawyer will usually pay for these records until the end of your case at which point, you will be billed for them.

Your lawyer will also decide what to do with bad evidence that could hurt your case.

3) WHAT DO I DO DURING ALL OF THIS: It is not uncommon for your lawyer to not contact you in person until just before the hearing. Although, you may request an in person meeting at any time. Their staff will usually be in contact with you from time to time about any additional information, items, or actions they need from you. However, in the mean time take it upon yourself to be prepared by continuing to see your doctor during your claim. This helps to maintain accurate, up to date, and helpful records for your case.

Also, remember to answer all questions that are asked of you by your lawyer or staff member as honestly and as accurately as possible; even if you're embarrassed or ashamed of the answers. It's the only way they can help you effectively. Also keep in mind, that they are INDEED THERE TO HELP YOU, not to judge you and that all information is privileged. You may also always ask why they need certain information for your own understanding.

4)CAN I GET A WITNESS: You may bring a witness to your hearing. However, leave it up to your attorney whether such a witness will actually help or harm your case.

5)HOW WILL MY LAWYER ARGUE FOR ME: First, your lawyer will determine why you were denied by social security and then try to resolve those issues. Then, they will develop a possible theory of why you deserve your claim. Such theories include:

-proving your condition meets a disability listing( a description of an illness written by the SCA)

-proving you "grid" out of all work, including past work you were able to do.( Ask your lawyer about the grid)

-proving your non exertional limitations prevent you from working or

-proving that your exertional level is less than sedentary

Lastly, your lawyer will ask you a series of questions at the hearing known as the "hypotheticals". The hypotheticals are designed to rule out the possibility that you can work any kind of job due to your condition.