Finding a good Social Security attorney near you can seem impossible, but we have a few tips for you.
Check the Lawyer’s Credentials
Although it seems obvious, make sure the person who helps you with your Social Security application is actually a lawyer. There are dozens of businesses that advertise to help people with the Social Security process; however, the people in those companies are often not lawyers. If they are not lawyers, they are not bound by the same rules of ethics and conduct that lawyers are. They also likely do not have the same level of knowledge or experience that a bar-certified lawyer has.
Your state or local bar association may have a referral service, with lawyers listed by specialty. Social Security law is complicated. You do not want someone who claims to practice 20 different types of law to handle your Social Security claim.
You can also find a Social Security disability attorney near you by checking online directories of disability or Social Security lawyers.
Word of mouth is another good way to find a good local Social Security attorney. Talk with your friends and neighbors about their experiences using a local lawyer for a Social Security application. Reputations are earned.
Interview Several Social Security Lawyers
After you collect the names of potential lawyers to handle your case, talk with several lawyers, clarifying upfront if they charge a fee to talk with them. This is called a consultation fee.
Read the fee agreement of each lawyer you interview. Make sure it is written in language that is clear and that can be easily understood. Make sure it is fair. Make sure you understand exactly how much the lawyer will expect to be paid, and where the money will come from.
Note: Social Security disability lawyers recover their payment after you win your benefits. They are only entitled to 25 percent of your back benefits, or $6,000 whichever is lower.
Ask the lawyer what he will do for you, and what you will have to do for your case. For example, who will get a copy of your medical records, and who will bear that cost? If the lawyer advances the cost, when and how will she be reimbursed?
Ask questions about the lawyer’s experience handling Social Security cases. Here are some good questions to ask the lawyer during the interview:
- How many years has she been practicing?
- How many years has he been handling Social Security cases, and how many Social Security cases does he handle a year?
- Does she attend conferences or seminars on Social Security or disability law?
- Has he had other additional training on Social Security or disability?
- Is she ever a speaker at Social Security or disability seminars or conferences?
- Is he a member of state or local bar sections on Social Security or disability law?
- How many local cases has she handled?
- Has he ever handled a case for a person with your medical condition? If so, how many, and what is his percentage of success, measured by full benefits and by partial benefits?
You might also want to ask about the lawyer’s schedule. Are there certain days where he will not be available? Is he planning to take time off within the next year?
Be Wary of Overpromising
If a lawyer promises a specific outcome, be wary. There are variables that are outside of your and your lawyer’s control. A good Social Security lawyer will be candid with you about the uncertainty of outcome. A good attorney will not make guarantees that you will definitely win, or claim to be able to push your claim through faster.
You should, however, ask about the lawyer’s approval rate. A good Social Security lawyer will be able to tell you the percentage of his cases that are approved at the hearing level, and how many are approved for full or partial benefits.
Customer Service Matters
Ask about the lawyer’s communication policy. How quickly will the firm return your phone calls? Who will actually handle your case? Get the names of several people who will be familiar with your file and can help you if the lawyer is in court.
Find out about the support staff in the office. Lawyers are very busy. If they have a sufficient number of skilled, experienced support staff in the office, everything can go smoothly. If not, your client experience may suffer, with your telephone calls not being returned on a timely basis, and your questions going unanswered. Find out who will be assigned to manage your case file.
Trust Your Instincts
When you meet with the lawyer, pay attention to your instincts about him. Does the lawyer have a personality you can work with? You have enough challenges in life. You do not need to have an advocate who is rude or treats you with disrespect or impatience.
Schedule a free consultation with a Social Security disability attorney today.
Applying for Social Security Disability benefits is difficult and complicated. The vast majority of people are denied benefits the first time they apply, even though they have serious medical conditions.
By going through the appeals process, many people who were initially denied benefits are awarded the benefits they deserve, often with a retroactive award in addition to ongoing monthly benefits. However, the application and appeals processes can seem impossible without legal help.
Selecting the right Social Security attorney for your claim or appeal is an important decision. Our team will handle your Social Security disability application and fight to get you everything you deserve. Call us today for your free consultation: 865-566-0800.