Each year millions of people are injured or diagnosed with a severe ongoing illness. When you are no longer able to work, and there are still bills to pay, things can begin to get stressful. Applying for Social Security Disability benefits is a right that US citizens have to assist them with prolonged periods where they cannot work due to their health. This application process can often be drawn out and confusing and a lot of people wonder, when should you hire a disability lawyer? Social Security does not require you to have a lawyer but they can make things a lot easier.
If you are planning to hire a disability lawyer to help you with your claim, the sooner you do this better. Some people choose to hire a disability lawyer before they even initiate a disability claim. Others will hire a disability lawyer if their claim has been denied and they’re starting the appeals process. If you’ve been through the appeals process and you’ve still been denied and you have to restart your application from the beginning, it is time to consider hiring a lawyer.
Hiring a disability lawyer means that there is someone there fighting for you. Their whole job is to do everything they can to make sure that your claim is successful. They are there to help you navigate the rocky road that is filing for disability and help you avoid any pitfalls or shortcomings along the way.
What Do Disability Lawyers Do?
Lawyers, like doctors, tend to have specialties. If you’re going to hire a lawyer to handle a particular situation, it’s always best to hire a lawyer that specializes in that sort of case. It is no different when dealing with a disability case.
Disability lawyers specialize in knowing and understanding the types of medical proof that is going to be needed for your disability claim. Many times a person submitting a claim on their own won’t realize the types of evidence that they’ll need to submit and will either submit too much unnecessary evidence or will not have enough of the necessary evidence to back up their claim. This can often lead to a denial of their disability.
A disability lawyer also recognizes the type of speech and jargon that is more likely to catch the attention of those reviewing a disability claim. The lawyer’s understanding of the claim process, and the hoops that go along with it, make it easy for them to help you navigate through the process, and make the process less stressful.
Lawyers are also Pros at the hearing process. If your claim application comes to the point of having to have a hearing, a lawyer arguing for you is the best tool you can have. Not only do they understand how the process works, but they also understand the laws behind the process and the types of questions that will be asked. A disability lawyer will be prepared to deal with information that comes up during the cross-examination and have arguments ready to counteract any objections that could be raised against approving your claim for disability
Filing a disability claim is a very complicated process and can take a long time. Having a lawyer to advocate for you is never a bad thing. Your lawyer is there to be on your side and to fight for you.
How Much Does a Disability Lawyer Cost?
The first thing that pops into anybody’s mind when they think of hiring a lawyer is that it’s way too expensive. Their head fills with words like retainers and legal fees and thousands of thousands and thousands of dollars that they just can’t afford. That is not always the case where they hire a disability lawyer.
Many, if not most, disability lawyers work on the premise that they only get paid if your claim is successful. If you have filed for disability and been denied and gone through the appeal but have still been denied, you don’t owe the lawyer anything. That should give you a little more peace of mind.
But what happens when your claim is successful and you are awarded disability? How much is it going to cost you to have had that lawyer fight for you?
On average, a disability lawyer’s fees can range from $3 to $4000. This is what they get paid when your claim is successful. But usually, you don’t have to pay that money.
No More than $6000 or 25% (Whichever is Less)…
A stipulation of Social Security Law states that a disability attorney, at the time they take your case, will file a statement of fees with Social Security. Per this law, they can get paid no more than $6000 or 25% (whichever is less) of your total back pay, that is payment of your claim dating back to the original date of filing for disability, not the date that you were approved.
There are special cases when the lawyer can file with the Agency to have more than the $6000 limit paid but those are very special cases and the agency has to approve them. Social security will only approve those additional fees if it deems that they are reasonable.
Do you Have to Have a Disability Lawyer?
It is not necessary to have a lawyer to offer disability. All of the documentation for beginning your claim is available online or by request at any Social Security Office. Instructions are also given for how to fill out the documentation and what paperwork will be needed from your doctor.
The biggest thing you need to understand is to do your homework. The Social Security office will request your medical records for their files, but make sure you request them as well. Only submit documentation as is related to your disability and only submit doctors’ opinions from doctors who have treated you for your disability. Any other records could muddy the waters and lead you to a denial.
If for some reason your claim is denied the first time around, you are entitled to an appeal which needs to be filed within 60 days. During this appeals process, you will need to submit documentation related to your disability, but do not resubmit documentation that you’ve already given. You can be sure that the Social Security Administration is not going to look at it again if they’ve already denied you based on that information.
What are your Chances of Winning a Disability Case Without a Lawyer?
When it comes to trying to figure your chances of winning your disability claim, looking into statistics makes things a little harder to swallow. This does not mean that you should not file for disability or appeal a denied claim.
Each year over 2 million people file for social security disability. Only about 30% get approved at the initial filing, and only 13% of the denied claims are approved during the Reconsideration phase.
If you’ve been denied during the initial filing or the Reconsideration phase, you have the right to request a hearing with an Administrative Law Judge. At this point, 47% of claims are generally accepted, with or without a lawyer, however, your chances of being one of the 47% goes up tremendously if you do have a lawyer.
Again, this is where doing your homework is important. Do a little research on the types of questions that might be asked of you in regards to your disability. Read over your doctor’s notes and be very aware of what they are saying. Ask them to be very clear with you if there’s something that you don’t understand. Make sure that any paperwork that you turn in is very specific to just your disability and any limitations that may be a result. Also, be prepared to show evidence of any emotional or financial burdens your disability has placed on you or your family.
If you were suffering from a debilitating injury or illness that is keeping you from working and that is placing a financial burden on you and your family, you are already in a stressful situation. Filing for Social Security Disability can be a very scary situation to find yourself in, on top of the burdens that you already have. If you are able and willing to do the research and leg work that it may take to file your claim independently, that is always an option that is available to you. However, hiring a disability lawyer it’s also an option and it may raise your chances of getting approved more quickly.
It is important to file your claim as quickly as possible after being diagnosed with your disability, however, it may be necessary to take some time for you to decide if hiring a disability lawyer or working independently is the best option for you. There’s plenty of information available from the Social Security Administration website and other sources that can help you understand the process and what is going to go into the decision-making about whether to approve or deny your claim. This information may help you make an informed decision.