Disability lawyer top questions to ask before hiringIf you have a severe health condition which will not allow you to work or perform substantial gainful activity for at least 12 continuous months, you may be able to qualify for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI). Unfortunately, if you do decide to apply for SSDI benefits there is a 45% chance that you will be denied benefits the first time you apply.
With this in mind, many disability applicants consider hiring a disability lawyer to help them argue their case, hoping this will improve their chances of winning. Although reports indicate a lawyer can improve your chances of winning benefits at every stage in the disability process, if you hire a lawyer but did not need to, you could end up unnecessarily paying them hundreds of thousands of dollars for their legal help. So before hiring a lawyer its important to consider several issues:
1. Will the SSA consider my condition automatically disabling?
The first question to consider prior to hiring a lawyer is whether you have a condition which the Social Security Administration will consider automatically disabling. If your condition meets or exceeds a listing on the SSA Listing of Impairments (a list of symptoms and conditions the SSA considers automatically disabling) you should be approved immediately (assuming you meet the nonmedical requirements for SSDI) and should not need a disability lawyer.
The SSA has also established a Compassionate Allowance Initiative which documents 200 conditions which the SSA considers automatically disabling. If you have a condition on this list with the corresponding symptoms and medical documentation, your claim should automatically be approved and you should not need legal help.
2. Can I fight for disability on my own without a disability lawyer?
Some claimants are more than capable of reviewing disability regulations, understanding the disability determination process, and fighting for benefits without legal help. The question you have to ask yourself is whether or not you are one of those people. If you are so sick and disabled it is difficult for you to perform simple daily tasks, fighting for disability benefits may be something you are not able to do on your own.
3. Does your lawyer specialize in disability cases?
Like other areas of law, you want to hire a disability who has experience handling cases similar to your case. Do not simply hire a lawyer with a high advertising budget or a nice photograph. Find someone who has a good track record of winning disability claims.
4. Does your disability lawyer have time to handle your disability case?
Disability lawyers may take dozens of disability cases. Before hiring a disability lawyer find out how many cases they are handling, whether they will be able to speak directly to you about the case, and whether or not they really have time to handle your Social Security Disability case. Its not unusual for much of the work for disability claims to be pawned off to case workers within the lawyers office. This might be fine, but if you need to talk to a lawyer make sure you have access to the lawyer you hired.
5. How much will it cost to hire a disability lawyer?
Although disability lawyers work on a contingency fee basis and will not require upfront fees to handle your disability claim, if you hire a lawyer they will take a percentage of your back pay. Prior to hiring a lawyer you need to ask yourself if you are willing to forego the fee.
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