When Should a Disability Attorney take Your case?
Very often, when the issue of disability representation is mentioned on a website, the question becomes "when should you get a disability attorney to handle your case?"
Well, there'a another question that merits some consideration, one that probably won't occur in the minds of most claimants. And that question is "When should a disability attorney consider taking your case?".
Disability attorneys tend to fall into three camps on this issue.
1. Attorneys who will take a claimant's case at any level in the process, including claimant's who have not even taken the first steop of filing for SSD or SSI yet. Attorneys who do this can provide a great amount of benefit to claimants, particularly claimants who would prefer to be walked through the disability process. However, not every attorney in this category is the same. Some will actually assist with filing a disability application (even so far as filling out paperwork and setting up a disability interview at the social security office), while others will simply accept a claimant's case. Obviously, for claimants who are nervous about the process, have anxiety issues, cognitive issues, and memory issues, the former type will be the most useful.
2. Attorneys who will only take a case after a claim has been filed, though not necessarily denied yet. Why will some disability attorneys refuse to take a case for an individual who has not applied for disability? There could be several reaasons. First, there's simply a lesser expenditure of resources on the part of the attorney. After all, helping a claimant submit an application and setting up a time for a disability interview with social security consumes time and effort. And, some attorneys may feel that claimants who have not filed on their own may simply be hesitant and "wishy-washy", while those have actually filed have mentally committed themselves to going through the process.
3. Attorneys who only take a disability claim after it has been denied. Again, there are different ways to look at this. The truth is, in most cases, there will be very little for a disability attorney to do until a disability case has been denied. And some claimants will see obtaining an attorney at this point in the process as a potential waste of money (i.e. having to give up part of their back pay as the fee if the case is won prior to a denial when relatively little work has been done by the representative). However, there is a flip side to this which is: some cases can be won at the intial claim and request for reconsideration levels if they are properly prepared and, of these, some will simply not be won if representation has not been involved. Representation can make the difference even at the earlier levels of the system prior to a disability hearing.
But when it does it will typically be due to the following facts---A) the case was strong enough to win anyway, regardless of representation or B) the attorney in question did an excellent job of handling the case even though winning disability benefits earlier in the process diminished his or her potential fee.
The point of this post? Simply to point out that when it comes to disability attorneys and when they may (or may not) choose to take a case, the issue is not so cut and dry. Some attorneys are actually fairly picky about the types of cases they will choose to accept, while others take a shotgun approach and will take literally any case that, basically, walks through the door. Both approaches have been criticized and, to some extent, both have merit.
When should a disability claimant get representation? My own answer is...whenever they feel the need to do so. But if you've been denied on a claim and the next step is a disability hearing, you should absolutely consider disability representation.
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