Maybe you are reading this post because you searched google and asked “should I get a lawyer before applying for disability”? You no doubt have found lots of answers on Google. Most of these posts, however, seem oriented to bringing you in as a client. There is nothing wrong with that – I want clients too, as I have found them crucial to my eating on a regular basis.
While I agree in general with my fellow social security disability lawyers in their blog posts about this subject- that contacting a social security disability lawyer is a good idea – most of these posts appear to have been written by marketins people, and don’t really answer your question. They often feel more like a “sales pitch”. Certainly none discuss situations where you might not want to contact or hire a disability lawyer.
So I will start with the negative – the reasons why maybe you shouldn’t contact or hire a disability lawyer.
Reasons you may not want to CONTACT a social security disability attorney
OK, I lied. I cannot think of any legitimate reasons. A qualified social security disability lawyer will talk with you – for FREE. OK, it is always true that any time you reach out for advice – whether to lawyer or care mechanic – you might get poor advice, or that you will encounter a salesman personality who tries to “strong arm” you into signing up with them.
But what if your car stops working and you are new in town and don’t know a mechanic? Are you going to let your car sit idle in the driveway because you are scared of being ripped off by an unscrupulous mechanic?
Are you going to rely on uncle Lester’s advice because his son got on disability 10 years ago?
Again, did I mention social security disability lawyers will consult with you informally about your situation FOR FREE?
Reasons you may not want to HIRE a social security disability attorney
- Your social security disability claim is for terminal cancer.
If you have terminal cancer, and you have insured status for social security disability insurance, you are going to win your case. You may want to concentrate on the quality of the life that remains to you. I do take cases where the claimant has cancer that has metastasized and/or is considered terminal by doctors, but my primary contribution is to use my best efforts to push the case through. Often times I do not get a fee because the case goes through so quickly there are no retroactive benefits from which I could be paid.
2. You expect the attorney to push your claim through quickly.
Attorneys cannot speed up the process of winning a disability case. Period. We can monitor a case. We can make sure that it does not fall through the cracks at social security, but we cannot hurry your case along.
3. Your long-term disability insurance company told you to hire their lawfirm
Most long-term disability insurance policies provided by employers have an “offset” for social security disability benefits. Translation: the amount they have to pay you under the policy is reduced, dollar for dollar, by social security disability benefits received.
So are you surprised your long-term disability insurance company wants you to collect social security disability benefits? They do, and they will refer you to a law firm or social security disability representation group like Allsup for free help in filing for disability.
But just because you are drawing long term disability it does not mean you qualify for social security disability, or that you should file for it at all. Many long-term disability plans provide for benefits in the first two years if you only prove you cannot return to your old work. But social security requires inability to do any work at all. This is a distinction big insurance company don’t want to make. Their approach is to “throw it up against the wall and see if it will stick”.
Why you should CONTACT AND HIRE a social security disability attorney if you are even considering filing a claim for social security disability benefits
Social Security Disability Lawyers receive a fee only if they win your case and you get social security disability back benefits
Most are familiar with attorney “contingent fee” arrangements typical of personal injury suits. Social security disability lawyers also work on contingent fee.
Social security disability attorneys received 25% of past due benefits as their fee. Most limit their fee to a regulated maximum of $6000, soon to be $7200. (The government gave social security disability attorneys a raise after 12 years- do you know anyone who has gone without a raise for that long?)
Many may look skeptically at the “contingent fee” arrangement, citing the million dollar payouts in big personal injury cases, or “early win” situations in which the attorney may not have had the chance to do a lot of work.
The key feature these skeptics forget: you assume NO RISK if you do not win. The attorney may end up spending untold hours, and if not successful, she has worked for you FOR FREE.
If she wins, you will get (i) back benefits, (ii) monthly checks as long as you continue to be disabled and (iii) Medicare eligibility even if you are under age 65. That cost you no more than the lesser of $7200 or 25% of the back benefits.
In the words of “the Who”, I call that a bargain.
You may only have “One Big Shot” to Win Social Security Disability
OK, I will update my musical references from “my generation” (the Who) to Eminem in “Lose Yourself”where he raps about a performance he believed would make or break his career.
“You only got one shot” has some relevance to a social security disability claim.
A social security disability claim is a long, drawn out process marked by lots of waiting, decisions, and appeals. In this process, the ALJ hearing is in many ways the “one big shot”.
While it is true that an ALJ denial can be appealed, statistically the majority of claims denied at the ALJ level will not be approved on further appeal.
Do You Really Want to “Go It Alone” on a disability claim?
I believe most social security disability applicants hire a social security disability lawyer because they “want to win”. That is the goal, but I often feel the support and presence of a disability lawyer in a disability claim is not fully appreciated.
The vast majority of disability claimants have never filed a social security disability claim, and likely never had to deal with an administrative process of duration like a disability claim.
Why exactly would you choose to go through a new and foreign experience like this alone?