Hiring an Attorney Can Ease Stress of a SSDI Appeal

Appealing a Social Security disability claim can seem like a daunting task, but the chances of that claim being successful increase significantly with the help of a qualified attorney.

Many claimants balk at the idea of hiring an attorney because of cost, but they often do not realize that there is no up-front cost in SSDI representation. Everyone has the right to be represented during the appeals process and the Social Security Administration has strict rules about the fees associated with that representation.

In fact, an attorney or representative cannot charge a fee without written approval from the SSA. In many cases, the lawyer only gets paid if the appeal is successful and even then the fee comes from the past-due benefits, according to the SSA’s website.

The SSA determines how much the representation was worth, which is usually 25 percent of the past-due benefits. A claimant never owes an attorney more than this except if there were fees associated with medical record acquisition. If a claimant comes to an agreement with the attorney about a fee structure before the appeal, the SSA will consider that agreement as long as the total is not more that 25 percent of the past-due benefits.

Hiring an attorney for a SSDI appeal could be considered a steal at this price since in most other types of cases attorney’s fees would be greater than that. If the appeal is won, then the lawyer is paid directly by the SSA and the claimant receives a check for the remainder of the past-due benefits.

There are clear benefits of having legal representation when filing a SSDI appeal. An attorney will be able to access a claimant’s file and act on his or her behalf before the SSA. An attorney also will be able to help a claimant access medical records or other information that supports the appeal of the claim. Accessing medical records can be a challenge and attorneys with Social Security appeal experience will know how to get that information in a timely manner.

A claimant can bring an attorney to any interviews, conferences or hearings with the SSA. An attorney also will be experienced at preparing witnesses for a hearing, which can be critical to the appeal.

The Social Security Administration will need to approve the fee structure even if a second party like an insurance company is paying the attorney’s fees, according to the SSA website.

Posted on Friday, June 14th, 2013. Filed under Social Security Disability.

True Diagnosis and Legal Representation Key to Social Security Disability Benefits

Social Security disability benefits can be difficult to get. The application process can be time consuming and is heavy on paperwork. Many individuals with signs of pain and fatigue wonder if they can get Social Security disability insurance (SSDI). There are some critical steps to increase your chances of successfully winning your claim with the Social Security Administration (SSA).

Step One: Diagnosis
Social Security looks to have a true diagnosis of an individual’s “medically determinable impairment.” You must have the signs, symptoms, and medical records supporting your situation. A qualified doctor that uses accepted practices to note your limitations and prognosis is critical. Social Security does not know your doctor, so your doctor’s input is very important when you apply for benefits.

Step Two: Qualified Legal Guidance
Having a qualified, Social Security Disability attorney increases your chances of getting your much-needed SSDI approved. An experienced attorney is skilled in getting the documentation completed accurately and has the expertise should your case go to a hearing in front of a federal administrative law judge. The Social Security Administration and its examiners review many claims a day and have little emotional investment to understand the extent of your situation. Having legal representation will help overcome the difficulties in getting SSDI.

Also, most SSDI attorneys work on a contingency basis, so you won’t have to pay any hefty fees up front. When you are granted SSDI benefits, up to 25 percent of it will be taken for the attorney’s fees as approved by the Social Security Administration. If no benefits are obtained, the attorney will not be paid, so the process protects your pocketbook.

Step Three: Periodic Disability Reviews
Continuing disability reviews happen every three to seven years. Even if you were initially given benefits because of a permanent disability, you must still meet the definition of disabled. The SSA will want updated records and documentation to verify your condition. And, should you work and earn more than $1,000 a month, the SSDI benefits most likely will end. If there is a sudden change in your medical or employment status, you will want to contact a qualified attorney to understand your rights.

Overall, Social Security disability attorneys help clients determine their eligibility for Social Security Disability Insurance and, separately, Supplemental Security Income. These two programs are distinct as SSDI pays benefits to you if you have worked long enough and paid Social Security taxes. Supplemental Security Income pays benefits to disabled persons with little to no income.

In Tampa, Social Security Disability attorney Robert Alston has more than a decade of experience successfully representing clients before the Social Security Administration. Even though SSDI and SSI are different programs, he will analyze what is the best course of action given your situation and finances. Alston is skilled in assisting disabled children and adults, veterans, and the aged and blind with their disability concerns.

Posted on Friday, July 1st, 2011. Filed under Social Security Disability.