Why use a Social Security Lawyer
You don’t have to have a lawyer to file and pursue a claim for benefits. However, the Social Security Administration’s own statistics show that claimants who use a lawyer are far more successful in winning their claims than those who don’t.
When you initially file a claim for social security benefits, you will be required to fill out a number of forms. These forms are very important to your claim and will have a lot to do with determining whether or not you will win. It is very important that these forms are completed correctly. I encourage my clients to allow us to be involved in helping them fill out these important initial forms.
It is also very important for you to understand that you have the burden of proof in presenting your claim for disability. It is not the Social Security Administration’s responsibility to prove your claim for you or to help you prove your claim. If there is insufficient evidence presented to prove your claim, you will lose your claim, whether or not you are actually disabled. An attorney who is familiar with the Social Security system and what it takes to win a disability claim can make a significant difference in winning your claim.
In fact, the United States Supreme Court determined that the aide of an attorney was so important to a person pursuing a claim for Social Security benefits, that it now requires all of the judges to advise unrepresented claimants, during the hearing, that they have a much better chance of winning their claim with the aide of an attorney.
Selecting the Right Firm
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 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. 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.
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 my firm, I personally go to every Social Security hearing. The Administrative Law Judge, who is also the government’s representative, is a trained lawyer. As such, wouldn't any client want a trained lawyer to be present and represent them at this most important hearing.
5 Important Things to Remember about your Social Security Claim
1. File right away.
Some types of Social Security benefits only start a month after you file for them. By waiting to file you may be losing benefits to which you are entitled.
2. Always appeal a rejected claim.
You should always appeal through the hearing level, at least. Also if you are denied by a judge then you should file a new claim. If you are disabled do not stop fighting untll you get your benefits.
3. Be sure to get examined by your doctors.
If you have your own doctors get evidence from them to support your claim. Never go to the doctors appointed by Social Security if you do not need to. Your doctors will be more familiar with you and your condition.
The law requires that the Social Security office try to get evidence from your doctors before they send you to their doctors.
4. Fill out the application carefully.
Often people do not take the time to completely fill out the forms or to list all the problems they have, including psychological problems. Social Security needs to know about all of your problems in order to make a fair decision on your case.
5. The prior work form is very important.
This is one of the most important forms that you will complete. Remember, in determining whether or not your are disabled, Social Security is going to first decide whether or not your can do your old jobs. That means all of the jobs that you have performed for 6 months or more in the last 15 years. This is why it is so important that they know all of the difficult parts of your past work, especially the heaviest weights that your had to lift or carry, and the extremes of having to walk or be on your feet. Please take your time and really think about the demands on your prior jobs, and make sure that they are clearly listed in the form.
Types of Social Security Benefit Claims Available
There are a number of benefits available under the Social Security Law.
You should apply for all of the benefits that are applicable to your case. If you have any questions about what types of social security benefits you are entitled to, contact me at 501-623-7372 or submit the form under the contact tab.
Regular Disability Benefits (DIB)
If you have worked and paid enough Social Security taxes and you are disabled, you may be entitled to regular disability benefits. The amount of these benefits will generally depend on what you have paid into the system through social security withholding taxes.
If you have children who are under 19 and have not yet graduated from high school, they may also be entitled to benefits under your account.
Benefits start 5 full months after you become disabled.
In addition to a disability payment, you will be entitled to medical insurance, under the Medicare system. The Medicare Benefit starts 2 years after you are first entitled to social security disability.
Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
SSI benefits provide income to a disabled person who meets the financial requirements of the Social Security System. There are very restrictive limitations on what assets you can have and what income you can make and receive these benefits. The benefits are designed for people who have no other income or support.
If you qualify for SSI you will be entitled to medical coverage under the Medicaid system.
If you are found disabled, benefits start the month after you file.
Widow/Widowers Disability benefits
These benefits are designed for the spouse of a deceased person who was insured under the Social Security system. Under this law, a surviving spouse is entitled to a percentage of their spouses’ DIB benefits.
In order to qualify for these benefits, you must show that your deceased spouse paid into the Social Security system. You must be between the ages of 50 and 59. You must show that you had been married for at least 9 months at the time of death. And finally, you must show that you became disabled within a certain period of time (normally 7 years).
Adult Disabled Child
These benefits are designed for an adult disabled child of a person who was insured under the Social Security system. Under this law, the adult child is entitled to a percentage of their parents DIB benefits.
In order to be entitled to these social security benefits, you must show that the child became disabled before the age of 22. You must normally show that the child has never been married. Finally, you must show that the child’s parent was insured under the Social Security system and that the parent has retired, has become disabled, or has died.
These benefits are designed for a person who meets the social security definition of blindness. Under this law, a blind person is entitled to DIB benefits.
There are special rules for people who are legally blind. They do not have to meet some of the work requirements that others do, and they are able to earn significantly more money than others, and still keep their SS benefits.
For Questions About Your Disability Claim... contact Travis Morrissey at 501-623-7372.