Sunday, January 14, 2007

Disability Lawyers and Finding YOUR Disability Lawyer

Some individuals consider the issue of representation before they even file a social security disability or SSI disability claim. And some individuals consider finding a lawyer after they have received a notice of denial from the social security administration. However, the majority of all claimants typically have the same questions about disability lawyers and here are just a few.

Question 1: Are lawyers required for filing appeals on disability claims?

Answer: No, disability lawyers are not required for this. If you file a claim for disability benefits with SSA (social security administration) and get denied, you can file the appeal yourself. How do you file a social security disability or SSI appeal? Fairly easy. Just call the social security office where you applied, notify them that you'd like to submit an appeal, wait for them to send you the appeal paperwork, complete the paperwork, and return it. Ideally, you should do this within just a few days of receiving your denial notice (you are alloted 60 days in which to file an appeal, but don't wait to do this any longer than necessary).

Question 2: Do lawyers increase the odds of winning disability cases?

Answer: Disability lawyers can certainly improve the odds of winning claims for disability benefits and can influence the outcome of a case at the intial claim phase, first appeal phase, and disability hearing phase. However, in most cases, disability lawyers make their greatest impact at the disability hearing level at which a claimant's case is presented before an administrative law judge. At a disability hearing, a claimant's lawyer can present a rationale (based on a knowledge of social security rules and regulations) as to why a claimant should be approved for continuing disability benefits.

Question 3: How expensive are disability lawyers?

Answer: Obtaining assistance from lawyers in various fields can be fairly expensive due to upfront fees. Fortunately, for individuals attempting to win social security disability or SSI disability benefits, the social security administration regulates how disability lawyers may receive their fees. How are disability lawyers paid ? Disability lawyers receive a percentage of a claimant's backpay as their fee. Currently, this percentage is set at one-fourth of whatever backpay is owed to an individual who has won their claim for benefits. So, for example, a claimant who has won their disability case and is owed $8,000 in backpay will need to pay their lawyer $2,000 as the fee for representation. The system that regulates how disability lawyers are paid is beneficial in a number of ways. First of all, claimants are not required to pay anything upfront (which makes the issue of finding representation much less complicated). Secondly, no fee is paid to a lawyer unless a case has been won (meaning a lawyer has every incentive to do a competent job of handling a case).

Question 4: When should you consider getting a disability lawyer?

Answer: A person who files for disability benefits may obtain a lawyer at any point in the process. However, it is always advisable to have a lawyer at a hearing. Statistically, the use of disability lawyers at hearings increases the chances of winning by about 50 percent (roughly 40 percent of claimants who go to hearings without lawyers win their claims while roughly 60 percent of claimants who go to hearings with lawyers win their claims). Also, claimants who have received a notice of denial on a claim may wish to consider finding representation since this will typically mean that a disability hearing will be necessary.

Return to the Social Security Disability SSI Benefits Blog

Other Posts

Can you change disability lawyers if you are not satisfied ?
How much information should you put on a disability application ?
Social Security Disability SSI questions
Is it easier to get disability if you are over fifty ?


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