Deciding which disability lawyer to hire for your disability claim can seem overwhelming. Each disability attorney claims to be the best in the business. But how can you see through all the promises and gimmicks to decipher who really is best to fight for your claim?
Many people do not know where to begin in this weed out process so we have compiled a list of 10 questions you should ask your disability attorney before you hire them.
1. What level of experience does this attorney have with Social Security Disability?
You want to know how long the disability attorney has been helping people with disabilities. If he or she is Board Certified in Social Security Disability Law, that’s a huge plus. Having someone who has won countless cases similar to yours will be a huge benefit.
2. Will this attorney help fill out your Social Security forms?
The disability attorney or legal assistant should help you with this. They can’t make up the answers for you, but you should not be responsible for filling out the appeals, reports and other forms Social Security sends you. If the attorney tells you to apply on your own for benefits and call back if or when you get your denial letter, then smile and say, “OK,” but keep looking for another attorney. Here at Mountain West Disability we will file your initial application as well as any appeals or other paperwork that must be filed down the road.
3. Will this attorney order your medical records?
Having all the medical records available for the judge is crucial to your case. If you are responsible for gathering your own medical records, keep looking for another disability attorney. Here at Mountain West Disability we want to do everything we can to get you benefits which includes paying for and gathering all of your medical records. Getting medical records can be quite pricy and often firms will require you to reimburse them for any expenses they expended getting your records which could be several hundred dollars. Our firm will collect your records free of cost to you both up front and down the road.
4. Is this attorney familiar with the judges and staff at your hearing office?
It helps to know the quirks and preferences of the other people who will be there for your hearing, especially the judge. There is turnover among the Social Security staff (including judges), but an attorney should be familiar with most of the people there.
5. How does this attorney handle your questions or updates about your case? Who do you talk to?
This is mainly to see if your communication style matches with the attorney. Some people like to talk over the phone, some like to email. Some want an attorney who answers his own phone, and some want an attorney who has legal assistants who help. Our firm has recently introduced texting as a quick an easy option to get in touch with us.
6. How much does this attorney charge? What if you don’t win?
Social Security regulates how attorneys get paid, and as a result, they usually charge the same: 25 percent of past due benefits. However, some attorneys require reimbursement for case expenses even if you don’t win. This might not be a deal killer, but it is something you should be aware of before signing a contract.
7. How will this attorney help prepare you for the hearing? Will you be able to meet in person (and not just the day of the hearing)?
You should be able to speak with your attorney several days before your hearing.
8. Where is this attorney located?
All things being equal, you should go with a local attorney. This might be difficult if you live in a rural area, but find someone who is near your hearing office.
9. Will this attorney prepare a written memorandum or brief for the judge to review prior to the hearing?
This written statement from the attorney is very helpful. First, it shows that your attorney has spent time reviewing your case and preparing a legal theory for the judge. Second, it gives the judge a chance to consider the case prior to the hearing. Finally, it can also be a request for an On The Record (OTR) decision. OTR decisions are rare, but sometimes the judge will grant a claim without hearing testimony from any witnesses.
10. Is this attorney familiar with your particular health problems?
No attorney can know everything about every medical condition, but you should get a feel for how knowledgeable an attorney is on your conditions. If your health problems are uncommon, your attorney should be willing to get familiar with the symptoms and treatment of your particular conditions.
If you would like a free evaluation please feel free to call us, there is no obligation and zero cost up front.