Why do I need a lawyer? How much do they cost?
…Actually, you don’t need a lawyer at all to get benefits. However, the current Federal Social Security Disability Program is rather complicated. If you need to present your case to a Federal Judge, then often an attorney can be helpful in preparing your claim for the court. All attorney fees must be approved by the Judge. The fee for our office is simply 25% of any past benefits you may be entitled to or $4,000.00 (which ever is less). This fee is typical for attorneys handling Social Security Cases. The fee is paid directly by the Social Security Administration from the past benefits your attorney is able to get. If your case is lost, then you owe the attorney nothing.
My claim was denied, what do I do?
…Many claimants are denied multiple times before they are successful in obtaining benefits. It is very important that you continue to pursue your claim. If you are initially denied, then you should apply for reconsideration. If you are denied reconsideration, then you should request a hearing with an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) in Federal Court. Typically, your best chance of obtaining benefits is in court before a Judge. Unfortunately due to the large back log of cases, it often takes many months for your hearing to be scheduled.
What happens at the hearing?
…At the hearing you will testify about the nature and extent of your disability, your past work, and your education. There is no jury present for your hearing. An administrative law judge will conduct the hearing which typically lasts about an hour. The hearings are rather informal and you will not be cross-examined by any lawyer for the government or the Social Security Administration. Some administrative law judges ask questions while others let your attorney ask all the questions. On occasion the administrative law judge may also ask a doctor or vocational expert to testify as well. If a doctor is asked to testify, they will typically do so by telephone. If requested by the administrative law judge, any vocational expert would testify in person at the hearing. You are also entitled to present witnesses at your hearing. Typically a family member or close friend would testify about their observations of your condition.
What happens if I have been receiving workers’ compensation benefits?
…If you are awarded social security disability benefits, the law requires that the Social Security Administration consider all other disability benefits you have received (including workers’ compensation benefits). If your workers’ compensation case is planned very carefully by your lawyer, then there is a chance that the credit or offset in the Social Security case could be reduced or eliminated. You should specifically consult with your lawyer if you have been receiving workers’ compensation benefits.