Do you ever feel like just another number? Most of us have experienced this at some point, as our world becomes more and more automated and impersonal. It can be frustrating enough just talking to a robot on the telephone when settling a bill or when a big corporation won’t return your emails.
But, of course, your disability is much more important than a simple call or email.
When it comes to hiring a social security disability lawyer, you can’t afford to be just another number.
The reason for this is simple. Your case can take months to even receive an initial decision. A majority of claimants are initially denied benefits, and they must then go through appeals that can potentially take years to resolve.
Hiring the right attorney can give you peace of mind and guide you through each step of a long and often overwhelming process.
While national firms may handle many cases across the U.S. each year, local attorneys are often more able to dedicate their full care and attention to your claim and have critical insight into the local court systems.
The bottom line is this. Your disability lawyer should make you feel like you matter—and that you aren’t just another claim among many.
Here’s why local counts when hiring a Social Security disability lawyer.
Table of Contents:
- Local Attorneys Know Georgia Judges
- What to Look for in a Social Security Disability Lawyer
- When to Consult an Attorney
Local Attorneys Know Georgia Judges
There’s a high possibility that your initial Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) claim will be initially denied.
When your claim is denied, you must then appeal the decision.
The main stages of appeal are:
- reconsideration of your claim by a different reviewer
- a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ)
- review by the Appeals Council
- if these steps are unsuccessful, taking your case to federal court
Each of these levels of appeal can take months or years to resolve, so giving yourself the best possible chance of winning benefits throughout your claim will make a major difference.
Statistically, your best chance of winning benefits is during your appeal hearing with an ALJ. About fifty percent of claimants win benefits at the hearing level.
Why this matters is that local attorneys have experience handling Social Security disability cases in Georgia. Unlike with other types of disability cases, ALJs who handle Social Security cases are regional. Local attorneys will have a working relationship with judges in your area, which helps them navigate judges’ expectations and demeanor. Although few cases are a sure thing, your attorney will have the advantage of knowing which strategies will be more persuasive with certain judges.
Your attorney can also help you prepare for your hearing and submit relevant new medical evidence, as well as cross-examine medical or vocational experts or other witnesses who may testify during your hearing.
What to Look for in a Social Security Disability Lawyer
While local firms can offer a distinct advantage in helping you win your benefits, it’s important to find an attorney suited to meet the needs of your unique circumstances.
Researching attorneys can seem like a lot of work, and a recommendation from a family member may or may not mean that the same attorney will be right for you.
However, it’s important to remember that many Social Security disability lawyers offer a free case evaluation before deciding if it’s the right match.
A case evaluation is a chance for you to sit down with an attorney and ask questions before deciding to hire them. Since these meetings are free of cost, it’s a good opportunity to interview several attorneys and make an informed decision.
Your attorney should:
- Make you feel comfortable.
- Take the time to talk to you.
- Be able to inform you honestly about the process.
A few questions to ask an attorney are:
- What is your specific experience with Social Security disability law?
- What is your experience with my type of disability?
- What percentage of Social Security disability claims have you won for your clients?
- Will my attorney handle my claim or will they use case managers?
- Am I able to talk to my attorney directly when I have questions about my claim?
- When and how much will I pay in lawyers’ fees and other costs, if I win my claim?
When to Consult an Attorney
In a vast majority of cases, you won’t pay an upfront attorney’s fee for your Social Security disability claim. Typically you will only pay your attorney once you win your claim, and federal law strictly regulates how much you pay—up to 25% of your first check of back pay or $6,000, whichever is less. If you lose your case, you don’t pay anything. Thus, to get the most benefit from your attorney, you should seek their help as early as possible.
Not only can your attorney guide you through these early stages and help you submit the proper paperwork, they’ll also become familiar with your claim earlier, helping them better prepare for potential appeals.
Already been denied benefits? Don’t panic! While consulting an attorney early can be greatly beneficial, you can hire a lawyer at any time. Even if your claim is denied, the right attorney will advocate for you as you go through each level of appeal.
A qualified local attorney will care about the disability rights of those in your shared community, and thus care about your claim as much as you do. They’ll also have the experience to give you your best chance of receiving the benefits you deserve.
If your Supplemental Security Income claim or your Social Security Disability Insurance claim have been denied, or you’re thinking about filing and don’t know where to start, Affleck & Gordon can help. We’re Georgia Disability Lawyers who have been helping people in Georgia just like you for over 40 years. Sign up for a free case evaluation here, or call us (404) 795-7165.