How do you know the best SSD attorney to choose for your legal representation? What qualities are critical to having the best chance for approval of your application for disability benefits? Read on to discover the factors that are important in choosing a law firm for your Social Security disability needs
Factor 1: Does the attorney have experience in Federal Court appeals?
The number of cases being lost at hearing and the appeals council are staggering. You want someone who can take the case all the way to the last step. When you sign a contract with an attorney who doesn’t handle Federal court cases, you are leaving yourself vulnerable if you lose your initial case. Many attorney who do federal court work may not be inclined to take cases lost by other representatives at the various level of the process because they may have to split the fee with the attorney who previously lost your case.
Factor 2: Does the attorney have specialized RFC questionnaires or medical source statements for your conditions?
This is very important because your medical records alone typically do not state your physical limitation such as: how far you can walk, how much you can carry, how long you can sit, how long you can stand, and many more things that are factored into determining if you are disabled under the Social Security Administration’s (SSA’s) rigid definition. An experienced disability attorne should have questionnaires for a wide variety of conditions.
Factor 3: Who is paying for the medical records?
When you hire an attorney who agrees to advance the cost for your records it show you the attorney believes you have a SSD case that can win. If they lose the case you should not have to pay them back. The evidence in a disability case is the medical records. No evidence is a guaranteed loss! You want an attorney to advance the cost for your records. The price to obtain records can vary from state to state. Sometimes the cost can be as much as hundreds of dollars.
Factor 4: Does the attorney submit a pre-hearing memorandum or other document to the judge summarizing the theory of my case?
Administrative Law Judges(ALJs) who handle SSD cases have hundred of cases a year. Each case has a minimum of a few hundred pages of medical evidence and often many cases have thousands of pages of medical evidence. The pre-hearing memorandum is meant to save the judge time and money. It should cite specific pieces of evidence in the record so the judge does not have to search for everything on his/her own. A pre-hearing memorandum makes the judges job a bit easier, and you want a happy judge not an overwhelmed judge!
Factor 5: When will I be assigned an attorney?
Going with a nationwide disability advocate group is somewhat risky. This is because you do not know who is going to be with you at the hearing. This should not be surprise a few weeks before your hearing. You are paying alot of money and you should know who is representing you.
Factor 6: Does the prospective attorney practice other areas of law that benefit from having a SSD practice?
Practice areas like Workers Compensation and Personal Injury often settle for much larger sums of money than the fees awarded for winning a SSD case. The reason other practice areas can be a red flag is that firms sometimes use Social Security disability clients to see if they have more profitable cases (e.g. a medical malpractice case, a worker’s compensation case, a personal injury case, etc.). Often this results in less attention being afforded towards the attorney’s social security disability cases. This is not always the case and other things to look for should also be factored in when evaluating what other areas of law the attorney practices.
Factor 7: Is the attorney a member of NOSSCR (National Organization of Social Security Claimants and Representatives) or NADR (National Association of Disability Representatives)?
Both organizations provide continuing education for attorneys and a lot of useful materials for attorneys. Many attorneys obtain their RFC questionnaires and medical source statements through theses organizations. There may be other organizations as well, but these are just two that are highly recognized within the industry.
Factor 8: Who is filing the request for reconsideration and the request for hearing?
When you hire a representative you are paying them 25% of your back pay with a maximum total fee of $6000. That is not a small sum of money! While representatives cannot file an initial application they can submit the request for reconsideration and a request for a hearing on behalf of their clients.
Are you in the process of seeking legal representation for your SSD case? Consider the Law Office of Neil H. Good for your representation. Call #(847) 577-4476 or complete the online form for a free case evaluation.