Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) is intended as a safety net for people whose ability to earn a living is cut short by illness or injury. Unfortunately, obtaining disability benefits is often much more complicated than filling out a few forms and submitting medical records. In the fiscal year 2018, just 37.5% of Social Security disability claims were approved based on the initial application. Unfortunately, many people give up at that stage, often unnecessarily. More than half of those who receive a denial in the initial round never appeal, potentially walking away from benefits they might have received at a later stage in the process. In fact, more than half of those who continue through the appeals process are awarded benefits.
Of course, pursuing benefits alone can be daunting, and at some levels applicants represented by attorneys are much more likely to be successful. Small mistakes can trigger serious setbacks. So, choosing a disability lawyer is an important part of the process.
What to Look for in a Social Security Disability Lawyer
There’s no shortage of law firms offering Social Security disability services, and it can be tough to know who you should reach out to. Fortunately, most lawyers for Social Security disability benefits offer free consultations, so you can speak with an attorney and decide whether or not a firm is right for you without making a commitment.
In considering Social Security lawyers, you’ll want to consider both the attorneys’ skills and knowledge and your own comfort with the attorney and any staff you interact with.
Choose an Experienced Disability Lawyer
Not every good attorney has the experience to successfully navigate the Social Security disability reconsideration and appeals process. The process is unique, and veteran Social Security lawyers know what to expect, how to present evidence, and what type of information the Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) will be looking for at the hearing stage.
To ensure that the social security lawyers at a firm have the right type of experience, you’ll want to ask questions like:
- How many Social Security disability cases have you handled?
This question will help you determine whether the attorney or law firm has significant experience with the Social Security disability process. But, the largest number isn’t always the best answer, either. A firm that advertises itself with language like “we’ve handled more Social Security disability appeals than any other firm in Florida” may be more concerned with volume than with your particular case. You want your attorneys experienced, but you also want them personally engaged with your case.
- Have you handled cases involving my type of disability?
The Social Security Administration has set forth specific criteria for each of many different types of conditions, from potentially terminal illnesses to chronic conditions. That means the type of medical evidence necessary to establish a claim for disability benefits differs somewhat based on which category the condition falls into, or whether a combination of medical factors creates the disability.
- What are the steps I should expect as the case moves forward?
Asking this question will obviously provide you with information you need to prepare for the process and have reasonable expectations about the timeline and what will be expected of you. But, the attorney’s response will also give you a good feel for how familiar and comfortable he or she is with the process.
- Do you have reviews or testimonials you can share?
Like any other business, a law firm is likely to share only positive reviews. But, look beyond star ratings to what past clients actually have to say about the characteristics and factors that matter to you, such as knowledge, skill, patience, willingness to answer questions and outcomes.
Look for a Social Security Disability Lawyer You’re Comfortable With
Pursuing Social Security disability benefits can be a long and sometimes discouraging process. You’ll want an attorney you know you can rely on, not only to fight hard for you and put his or her skills to work, but also to listen to your concerns and help you through the process.
To make sure you’ll be comfortable with the firm you’ve chosen and will feel like you can address concerns, get questions answered, and have confidence that your case is in good hands:
- Ask who will have lead responsibility for your case, and who your main point of contact will be
- Make sure you’re comfortable asking questions and sharing sensitive medical information with the attorney and other staff members who will be responsible for your case
- Take note of whether the attorney and other staff members you speak with are listening to and hearing your questions and concerns, as well as information you share
- Ask follow-up questions if you don’t understand what the attorney is telling you, and pay attention to whether he or she communicates in a way that’s understandable to you and is patient about rephrasing or explaining further
In short, you should come out of your initial consultation with a Social Security disability law firm confident that the attorneys have the skills, knowledge, and experience to successfully navigate your case and that you will be comfortable working with them and sharing personal information.
Harrell & Harrell Helps People Who Have Been Denied Social Security Disability
The Social Security disability attorneys at Harrell & Harrell, P.A. are dedicated to helping people with disabilities secure the benefits they need to provide for themselves and receive quality medical care. We’ll guide you through every step of the process, from the initial consultation through the assembly of evidence, and each stage of the appeals process. We’ll even make sure that at least two different attorneys assess your case, just to be sure that we have considered every angle and identified the best available approach to managing your case.
To learn more about how we can help, schedule a free consultation right now. Just call 800-251-1111 or click in the lower right-hand corner of this page to chat.