What to look for in a Social Security Disability Firm
If you are disabled and need social security benefits, you need the best representation available. Hiring a representative to help you get these benefits is no place to cut corners.
There are several important questions you need to ask about any firm you are considering:
1. Is the company you are considering a lawfirm?
To be a social security representative, a person does not have to be a lawyer. Many companies which advertise as Social Security representatives in our area are not lawyers. And some law firms in our area do not send lawyers to the hearing with their clients.
The decision to have a social security lawyer represent you is generally not a decision based on costs. All representatives, whether they are lawyers or not, normally charge the same fee that lawyers charge. The charge is normally 25% of past due benefits, capped at $6,000.00, and the charge is generally only paid if the representative is successful.
There is no way for you to tell anything about the experience of a non-lawyer representative. They have not been to law school. They have not taken a course in advocacy. And they cannot appeal your case to the federal courts if they lose your case. Most importantly, they do not have to be licensed.
If it costs no more to have a licensed lawyer representing you, why would you choose less in such an important matter?
2. Will the law firm agree to represent you without charging any fees unless you win your case?
Under the Social Security law, an attorney normally charges 25% of past due benefits, up to a limit of $6,000.00, if the claim for benefits is won. If the law firm you are talking to is asking for more than 25% of past due benefits, you should know that this is not the normal fee.
3. Is Social Security Disability the main work of the lawfirm you are considering?
There are many general “personal injury” law firms that advertise for Social Security Disability work. In many of these firms, Social Security Disability is a sideline work. It is work that the firm does to create cash flow for their other practice.
If you see that the firm you are considering does other types of work, you should ask them questions like: “How many staff people are devoted solely to Social Security work?” “How many Social Security Disability claimants do you represent?” “How many hearings have your lawyers actually attended?” “When was the last time your lawyers took national training in Social Security Disability Claims?”
Social Security Disability Law is a complex set of regulations that take a concerted effort to stay up with. This cannot be done by a law firm that treats this type of law as a sideline.
4. If you have to go to a hearing, will a lawyer attend the hearing with you?
All law firms that work in the area of Social Security Disability have to use paralegal/case managers to handle the immense amount of paper which is generated by these cases. Our firm would not be able to help as many people as we do without our trusted case managers.
But there is a line that must be drawn when you are dealing with paralegals in a law firm setting. Many law firms send their paralegals to the final evidentiary hearing on their social security claims. A lawyer does not attend the final hearing.
In our firm, no client goes to any Social Security hearing without a person who is fully trained in the law and qualified under government regulations to represent claimants at these hearings. The Administrative Law Judge, who is also the government’s representative, is a trained lawyer. We insist that a person trained in the law be with our client at this most important hearing.