Are you living with lower back pain?
Close to 500,000 Americans have lower back pain caused by spinal stenosis. In the worst-case scenario, the lower back pain becomes so intense, it’s impossible to continue working. If you’re experiencing an injury or illness of any nature, that’s preventing you from working, this article’s for you.
Unfortunately, social security disability benefits are frequently denied, simply because the claimant didn’t provide the right type of proof. However, with a trusted social security disability lawyer in your corner, you can fight for the benefits you deserve. In this article, we’ll show you everything you need to know so you can pick the right lawyer for your case.
What questions should you ask before hiring a disability attorney? Read on to find out!
Are They Customer Service Focused?
The moment the law firm answers the phone, put your listening ears on. Do they have a pleasant customer service approach? Does the person on the other end of the phone sound happy to speak to you?
If you get a bad vibe or sense something’s off, hang up and call a different office. After all, you don’t want to work with an agency that’s not customer-focused.
Are they licensed?
Once you get a quality law firm on the line, like Heard and Smith, ask about the lawyer’s license. You should only work with a social security disability attorney who carries an active license. While unlicensed lawyers can still get the job done, a licensed advocate is always the better choice.
Why? A licensed social security disability lawyer will be able to navigate the particulars of Social Security regulations with ease.
Where Is the Office Located?
After confirming the lawyer who’d be handling your case is licensed, find out where the office is located. If you want to be able to meet with your social security disability attorney in person, look for an office that’s a reasonable distance from your home. However, if you’re okay doing everything virtually, or over the phone, long-distance representation can be very successful too.
Do They Offer Free Consultations?
Lastly, while you’re on the phone ask about setting up a free consultation. The best law firms will be happy to provide a consultation to discuss the details of your case. If a firm tries to charge you for a consultation, move on and look for a different agency.
What Documents Do You Need?
Next, ask the law firm what type of documents you should bring to your free consultation. Most likely, they’ll ask you to bring any documents that prove your work, education, and training history for the past decade. It’s best if the documents include the start and end dates for every job you’ve held.
Next, bring information about recent jobs, and explain how your current illness or injury’s affecting your job performance. Moving on, your lawyer will want to know your current social security application status. Moving on, it’s helpful to bring any medical records that you have available.
Your medical records should list the medications you’re on, as well as the upcoming procedures and treatments you’re facing. You should also write down all of the names and addresses of doctors and specialists you’re seeing.
How Strong Is Your Case?
After reviewing the documents, and hearing your story, give the lawyer a few moments to assess the strength of your case. Once they have the full picture, you can start asking them for their opinion.
Find out if they think you have a case worth pursuing. Next, find out what all of the potential outcomes are for your case. How likely do they think it is that you’ll be successful in getting the benefits you need?
How long does the lawyer think the legal process will take? What would the worst-case scenario look like? The more questions you ask about the direction the lawyer will take your case in, the easier it’ll be for you to prepare for what’s to come.
Do You Like the Lawyer’s Personality?
Moving on, while you’re at the consultation with a social security disability attorney, take a moment to assess their personality. While you don’t have to be best friends with your attorney, they should be someone you feel comfortable talking to. If at any point during the consultation you feel belittled or put down, it’s likely the lawyer’s personality doesn’t mesh well with yours.
It’s worth holding out for a lawyer who knows how to communicate with clients in a friendly and warm manner. Yes, legal proceedings can be overwhelming and stressful at times.
However, the right lawyer will know how to lift the burden by empathizing with what you’re going through. If you like the way the lawyer’s treating you, and they think you have a good case, now you can get into payment questions.
What Payment Plans Do They Offer?
Are you worried about being able to afford an attorney? After all, on average, lawyers can easily make $12,000 or more in any given month! While lawyers do make a lot of money, that doesn’t mean you have to pay an insane sum for their services.
Instead, a lot of quality lawyers are willing to work out a variety of payment plans to make life easier for their clients. For instance, you could explore contingency payment plans. A contingency plan simply means the lawyer will receive a preset percentage of your disability benefits.
What Are the Contingency Plan Details?
Oftentimes, contingency plans require little or no upfront money, which can be a big help when finances are tight. However, don’t just jump into any old contingency plan. Make sure the lawyer fully outlines the fee structure plan for the appeals council and federal court proceedings.
Find out what happens if your case is denied. Will you be on the hook for any type of legal fees? Next, make sure they’re offering you a fair percentage rate.
We suggest looking for a lawyer that has a cap amount. A capped amount means that while the lawyer gets a percentage of your benefits, it caps off at a certain amount.
Let’s say for instance you agree to a 25% contingency plan, with a $5,000 cap amount. If you receive $30,000 in disability back benefits the lawyer would only get $5,000.
Whereas if you didn’t have a cap amount the lawyer would be entitled to 25% of $30,000 which totals out to $7,500. As you can see, a cap amount can help put thousands of dollars back in your bank account.
Will They Draft an OTR?
Wouldn’t it be great if you could skip the legal proceedings, such as the hearing, and get the right to receive benefits? Well, with the right lawyer, and case evidence, you might be able to. Once you find an attorney you want to work with, ask if they can draft an on-the-record or OTR request.
If you have a strong case an OTR request means the judge can surpass the hearing. As a result, you could start receiving benefits much faster than you would if you had to go through a hearing.
Can They Arrange Consultative Examinations?
Next, let’s look at what to ask a lawyer when it comes to arranging doctor appointments. For certain social security disability cases, it’s appropriate to undergo consultative examinations with doctors. The examinations can strengthen your case, helping you get the most benefits possible.
Keep in mind that not every case qualifies for a consultative examination. However, you’ll want to find a lawyer who’s willing to order one if they think it could help your case.
Since the examinations are very expensive, some lawyers refuse to issue them under any circumstances. Find out your lawyer’s stance on the matter, and find out if they think a consultative exam could help you.
How Do They Provide Case Updates?
Last but not least, the best lawyers are the ones who are willing to communicate with you in a variety of ways. For instance, your lawyer should be willing to work with you through text, phone calls, video calls, emails, and in-person visits.
By offering a variety of communication methods, it’ll be easy for you to get updates regarding your case. Steer clear of any lawyers who are only willing to email or text. Instead, opt for a law firm that offers a communication style you’re comfortable using.
Find the Best Social Security Disability Lawyer
Now you know the top questions to ask a potential social security disability lawyer. Since arranging a free consultation is the first step, start calling law firms today. Remember to take note of how they treat you from the moment they answer the phone.
When you find a law firm you like, arrange a free consultation. You should prepare for the consultation by writing down the questions we outlined in this article.
Finally, if you don’t like the way the lawyer’s treating you at the consultation, don’t be afraid to walk away. For more tips like these, read another article.