Big or Small: What Social Security Disability Firm Fits You?
Social security representation runs the gamut from solo lawyers to meg-firms like Binder and Binder, Citizen’s Disability and the Disability Group. This is a fundamental question you have to ask yourself: do I want to deal one-on-one with the attorney who will represent me in the Administrative Law Judge hearing, or do I want deal with a large organization? With a large firm you will deal with many different persons, and will not likely have much interaction with the attorney or representative who steps into the all important ALJ hearing with you. Some of our clients formerly with large disability representation groups report having to “retell” their story to each new person, or getting hopelessly stuck in “call tree hell”. On the other hand, if a large group has a good data management system, the continual “hand offs” need not be a problem. Several persons represented by large groups over the years have reported many an excellent contact person in the big group who was sympathetic and helpful.
The big problem, however, is that when you pick a “big box” disability representation firm you have no way to know whether you are going to be assigned to a representative who is a superstar or a dud. You are trusting the organization, rather than an individual attorney.
Smaller firms or solo social security disability lawyers offer you the significant advantage that you can meet and assess the lawyer and staff who will be handling your case. In most cases (certainly for me) the firm name attorney is the lawyer who will be appearing with you in the ALJ hearing.
In the “Big vs Small” debate, I think there is one big issue folks do not consider: what is the nature of the financial incentive for this representative/attorney to win my disability case? All attorney and representatives are paid the same way: no fee is payable unless they win social security disability back benefits for you. But it does not take a rocket scientist to realize that losing your case for a solo attorney or small firm is going to “hurt the bottom Line” alot more than if the largest social security disability advocate firm loses your case. Don’t get me wrong: Binder and Binder wants to, and does win, social security disability cases. What you need to consider is “how hungry” is your disability representative or attorney for a victory on your behalf. To my knowledge, big firms like Binder and Binder and Freedom Disability employ salaried attorneys or representatives, so their personal incentive to win your case is not as great as the solo or small attorney who knows their income will suffer if they don’t win for you.
There is no sense that you need a big organization to fight for your social security disability benefits. Moreover, no one at social security is intimidated or impressed that Binder and Binder is on your case any more than they are going to be impressed that I am your lawyer.
Good representation wins cases, not size.