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What To Look For In A Qualified Disability Representative
Is my representative a licensed attorney? Maybe you didn’t know, but not all representatives handling disability cases are attorneys. SSA does not require disability representatives to be licensed attorneys.
What are the benefits of having an attorney on my side? Having an attorney gives you an advocate trained in the law. An attorney knows how to read the law and interpret it, just like the judges who work for Social Security.
In addition, all attorneys are bound by a professional code of ethics and professional conduct. Non-attorney representatives are not held accountable to the same standards as attorneys. That means they do not owe a legal duty to their clients and cannot be held responsible for poor representation.
Finally, an attorney can sue Social Security for denying your disability case. Non-attorneys cannot.
Does experience matter? Any attorney is only as good as their past experience. Determine whether the attorney has quality experience. Questions to ask:
- How long has the attorney handled disability cases?
- What percentage of the attorney’s caseload is dedicated to Social Security disability cases?
- How many hearings has the attorney attended?
- Does the attorney file cases with the federal district court?
- How may disabled people has the attorney successfully helped win benefits?
Why do you need a qualified attorney to handle your disability case? Social Security does not play fair. The disability process is designed to deny many, many legitimately disabled people at least twice. Here are some reasons why:
- Social Security allows each state to hire doctors who never examine you or talk to you to make decisions about your disability. The majority of the time, those doctors find you are not disabled.
- Social Security rules are designed such that, in the early stages of your case the opinions of those doctors are usually given more weight than what you and your doctor say.
- How many times have you seen a family member, friend, co-worker, etc struggle with a debilitating illness only to be denied by Social Security because they are too young, have too much education or are told by Social Security their illness is not severe enough? Those factors, age, education and work experience, are often used to deny severely injured and sick people.
- Social Security relies on hundreds and hundreds of complex laws and rules to determine disability. A skilled attorney knows all of those laws and how they impact your case.
- Even with the best case, Social Security has the power to manipulate its rules to deny your case. The reality is that there are many people working for Social Security who don’t see your case the way you and your doctors do. Those people can, and often do, deny even the most deserving. You need a skilled attorney who will fight for you at every step of the Social Security and who is willing, experienced and successful at suing Social Security in federal district court.
What Separates The Great Attorneys From The Good Attorneys?
Great disability attorneys work one on one with their disabled clients throughout the case.
The more your attorney meets with you, the more your attorney knows about your case. That gives you the best chance of success. Barring an emergency, you should expect that your case will be handled by the same attorney throughout your case. Meeting your attorney the day of the hearing is not the same as having one person who has worked with you for months, going over your medical records and work history with you and preparing you for a hearing before a Social Security judge.
Before allowing anyone to represent you in your disability case, always ask how often will you meet with your attorney during your case.
Great disability attorneys advise their clients about the issues in their cases and work with them to highlight to strengths and improve the shortcomings.
Did you know:
- That proving you are unable to perform any of your past work is not the same as proving you are disabled.
- That a statement by your physician that you are limited to “light duty” usually is interpreted by Social Security to mean you are not disabled.
- Social Security is not bound by statements your medical providers make about your disability.
A great disability attorney will reach out to your physician and ask for his or her medical opinions about your limitations. What if you don’t have a physician on your side? Don’t worry. Many, many disabled people did not have one of their doctors speak on their behalf. A skilled disability works with the evidence in the case and knows how to win cases without a treating physician’s opinion.
Great disability attorneys surround themselves with a skilled and dedicated team. No attorney can do everything in any case. He or she needs a skilled staff to assist with the case, providing information to Social Security, checking in with your doctors for updated medical evidence, helping you with your questions–letting you know what is going on with your case and putting you in touch with your attorney.
As lawyers, we cannot guarantee a result. What we can and do offer is to help you understand the merits of your case, navigate the administrative and bureaucratic processes, obtain the evidence, counsel you about the law, and fight to get you the recovery the law allows.
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