At what point when applying for SSDI should I get an attorney?
Is there a point in the SSDI claims process where you definitely don’t want to go it alone?
Author: Attorney Greg Reed
If you are applying for Social Security Disability you may be wondering at what point should you hire a lawyer. The process can be long, confusing and intimidating, when should you get experienced help?
You can hire an attorney at any point in the process.
Most people choose to fill out their initial application themselves, but having an attorney help may get you approved right away in order to avoid the appeal altogether. An attorney can help insure the application is complete and all relevant information is presented- evidence that shows your condition prevents you from working. If you hire an attorney at this point, the Social Security Administration does not recognize your attorney as an “official representative” and the rules relating to how they can bill (discussed later) do not apply.
Some people choose to hire an attorney after applying for benefits while they are waiting to hear a decision.
This is generally not recommended. While it may be helpful and comforting to have an attorney available to explain the application processes to you, there is not much actual work they can do until the claim has been determined. An attorney may claim they can expedite your claim, but the Social Security Administration will not process your claim any faster just because you have hired a lawyer. It does not make sense to spend the money on an attorney until you have reached a stage in the process where they can actually provide useful service.
Most commonly, applicants will hire an attorney if their claim has been denied.
This is where an attorney will be the most helpful. An attorney will be able to identify any issues with your application and work with you to fix them. Through the appeals process, an attorney will make sure you are presenting your claim with the most available reliable evidence. This means gathering complete and coherent medical records that with a common narrative- that your condition prevents you from working. This means putting together a work history that demonstrates the applicant paid into the system and is now entitled to benefits. The volume and complexity of paperwork involved in the appeals process can be overwhelming. An attorney will have experience in handling these issues and having one on your side can alleviate the stress of facing the Social Security Administration alone.
Applicants also frequently hire professional representation if they are called to hearing.
Hearings generally require a physical appearance and can be extremely stressful for those with disabilities. You will be asked sensitive and personal questions about your medical condition. Commonly, applicants will be asked about their ability to sit and stand. The judge will likely ask you questions about your ability to accomplish common household tasks in order to get an idea of your physical abilities- can you carry in groceries, perform yard work, etc… How you answer these questions is important to your claim. For example, an applicant may be able to carry groceries in from their car but that does not mean they can work in a warehouse carrying boxes eight hours a day, five days a week. A lawyer knows how to answer questions in a way that will present your claim in the best possible light.
If you are hoping to obtain Social Security Disability, there are ways you can assist your attorney with your claim.
While your attorney will do everything possible to further the success of your case, you will need to continue to document your disability and provide information.
If you fail to provide information, answer phone calls, or attend hearings then there is little the attorney can do for your case. Your attorney is there to help, but they can’t present information you haven’t provided. You and your attorney are a team and must work together. Keeping good record of how your condition has affected your ability to work is paramount in determining the success of your case.
Besides maintaining good records and keeping in contact with the law firm, you should learn everything you can about the disability application process.
Knowledge is power. The more you know about what will be required and what you can expect, the more likely you will be to succeed. There are many resources available to learn more about Social Security. Understanding the Social Security Administration’s perspective will help you present your information in the best possible way.
The attorneys at Austin Disability Law Firm Bemis, Roach & Reed are committed to providing exceptional legal services for insurance benefits, disability benefits, denied disability claims, and Social Security Disability cases.
Questions To Ask When Hiring an Attorney
“I think that when you’re looking and trying to choose a lawyer, the first thing you can do is talk to your friends, family members, other attorneys and see if they’ve had a good experience with a lawyer. That’s how we get the majority of our cases”
– Greg Reed
Most folks have never hired an attorney before. It’s not the thing that you do for fun. You don’t go to a lawyer because you are going to have a good day. In most instances, you go to an attorney because you need help.
I think that when you’re looking and trying to choose a lawyer, the first thing you can do is talk to your friends, family members, other attorneys and see if they’ve had a good experience with a lawyer. That’s how we get the majority of our cases… from family members, from former clients and from other attorneys. The second thing is look at the qualifications. How long have they been practicing? The attorneys in our firm have been practicing for a combined 75 years.
Bemis, Roach & Reed handles private long-term disability cases and we handle Social Security disability cases.
I meet with a lot of people who have disability claims. Some of them have already been denied, some of them have not been denied. The one thing that I tell virtually all of them is that at some point, they probably will be denied.
We have had numerous clients who come in with us and take advantage of our free consultation and have walked out happier because we have told them that they don’t need an attorney. In some instances they probably saved thousands and thousands of dollars because of that advice. Now if they need an attorney, we are certainly going to get on board with them and help them out. But not everybody does need an attorney. If you need one, however, you need one who is qualified, who is capable and who is going to be able to relieve some of the pressures on the client.
When people are denied their claim and they are talking to attorneys, there are some questions they should ask them. You have to remember, because these are difficult cases, and because they are litigated in federal court, you need to know whether your attorney is willing to go to the mat for you. You need to know whether your attorney is willing to fight that lawsuit if that’s what it takes in order to get your benefits. One good way to find this out is to ask him if he’s done it before.
If you are going to be hiring an attorney you probably need to look to see whether or not that lawyer is board certified . A board certification establishes a couple of things. One, you’ve established a knowledge of the area because you’ve been tested on it. You actually have to take a test provided by the Legal Board of Specialization. But you can’t just take the test, you have to have the experience that allows you to take the test and that means going to the courthouse. That means getting up in front of a judge, getting up in front of a jury and actually having success in doing so.
You get the personal service at Bemis, Roach & Reed and I really liken it to a playground situation where you’ve got your big brother behind you or you’ve got friends behind you. It gives you a level of confidence that you ordinarily wouldn’t have because you know they are there to help you. And that’s what we do at Bemis, Roach & Reed.
The team of disability lawyers at Bemis, Roach & Reed knows how crucial disability benefits can be for maintaining financial stability. Our attorneys are assisting clients with their disability cases in cities all across Texas. Contact our attorneys today at no cost to you. Contact us today for a free consultation.
Call 512-454-4000 and get help NOW.
Author: Attorney Lonnie Roach has been practicing law for 29 years. He is Superlawyers rated by Thomson Reuters and is Top AV Preeminent® and Client Champion Gold rated by Martindale Hubbell. Because of his extensive litigation experience Mr. Roach is board certified from the Texas Board of Legal Specialization. Lonnie is admitted to practice in the United States District Court - all Texas Districts and the U.S. Court of Appeals, Fifth Circuit. Mr. Roach is a member of the Texas trial lawyers association, has been active in the Austin Bar Association and is a past Director of the Capital Area Trial Lawyers Association. Mr. Roach and all the members of Bemis, Roach & Reed have been active participants in the Travis County Lawyer referral service.
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