How to Prepare to Meet with a Social Security Disability Lawyer
Applying for social security benefits, though extremely important for many people, is a complex and lengthy process. This is true no matter if you recently suffered an injury or illness that has prevented you from working. In most cases, hiring a social security disability attorney can help you move through your disability claim quickly while also avoiding common errors in the application process. Additionally, if you decide to hire a disability attorney to represent you, this entity can communicate with the Social Security Administration on your behalf.
A qualified and knowledgeable attorney can be a great asset when applying for social security disability. However, understanding how to prepare before you meet with your social security disability lawyer is vital.
In most cases, when you initially speak to a disability lawyer, they will interview you in order to decide if they can help you. During the interview, disability attorneys will typically ask you questions about your work history, education, and facts about your current disability. Below is a list of what to bring, what to expect, and what to ask during the initial consultation with your social security disability attorney.
What to Bring to the Initial Meeting
When first meeting with a disability attorney, having all the materials and information necessary for your attorney to correctly gauge if they will be able to help you or not is critical to the success and pace at which your case moves. The information you provide your attorney will depend both on your individual situation and the attorney you are meeting with. However, below is a list of the most common and important pieces of information that you should bring with you to your initial consultation.
Questions to ask
- The first and perhaps most important question a social security disability attorney will ask you is whether or not you have paid into social security through payroll deductions.
- After deducing if you have put money into social security, the disability attorney will need a description of your physical limitations. Within your description of physical limitations, you should list the amount of weight that your doctor says you can lift and carry, how long you are able to sit and stand at one time and throughout the day, and any other relevant information that is specific to your occupation.
- The next thing to bring is your work, training, and education history from the past 10 years. Furthermore, you should include the start and end dates for all jobs, training, or education you received during this time. Finally, list your current and recent jobs and how your injury or illness affects your ability to do these jobs.
- While seemingly straightforward, you should include your specific medical diagnosis in the documents that you give to your attorney.
- Next, list the physical requirements of your current job along with the actual responsibilities of your job. Additionally, list not only your everyday responsibilities but also include the more demanding and challenging activities of your job.
- You should also list the names, addresses, and reasons for visits of doctors and specialists that you have gone to since you left your work.
Additional Questions to Ask
- Also, list your application status. This includes information such as if you have already submitted a disability application or are receiving disability. The disability attorney will also want to know the timeline of your claim so make sure that you bring any documentation you’ve received from the SSA including denial letters or hearing notices.
- Include any upcoming surgeries, procedures, medications, or treatments you are or will receive—even if they are a result of the injury or illness that kept you from working.
- Though your attorney will be taking in all the information you give them, make sure you ask the attorney questions as well. The initial consultation is not just for your lawyer. On the contrary, the first meeting is also for you to ensure that the disability attorney will fit your needs. One useful tip is to write down potential questions that you may have so that you do not forget anything important.
- Finally, include medical records such as lab results or tests that are relevant to your condition. This commonly encompasses imaging and blood tests.
One important thing to note is that if you already sent in an application for social security disability, most of the information above will already be in the application.
By giving the above information to the attorney, you ensure that you will be receiving guidance for your specific situation. This takes a lot of the stress out of the social security disability application process. Additionally, with the above information, the attorney may be able to suggest an alternative plan of action. This is important as this may help you receive the benefits you need.
What to Expect From the Initial Consultation
By giving the attorney your medical information, the lawyer can assess the strength of your disability claim. They can also offer guidance on how to improve the chance that you will initiate a successful claim.
Additionally, certain law offices will offer to pay for filing and other upfront fees from your social security disability claim. You will still pay for these fees, however, you will not do so until you start receiving government benefits. This is especially helpful if you have lost the ability to receive your normal income due to your disability.
Questions to Ask Your Attorney
Below is a list of questions that may be helpful to ask the disability attorney during your initial consultation:
- First, ask the attorney how many disability cases and hearings they have worked on. Additionally, ask what percentage of their cases were successful.
- Next, ask if the attorney will be the one working on your case. If not, ask if they will pass your case on to a lower attorney, legal assistant, or partner law firm.
- Additionally, ask if the attorney sees glaring issues with your case. Another question should be if they have experience working with cases similar to yours.
- Ask about the costs they will bill you. However, also discuss any out of pocket costs that you may experience and how these expenses will be handled.
- Another question you should ask the attorney is how long they have been working on social security disability cases. Furthermore, ask about how much of their practice focuses on this area of the law.
- Finally, find out what percentage of your disability benefits will the attorney charge you and for what period of time.
By asking your attorney these questions, you leave your initial meeting with confidence. Another benefit is that you can also know that the attorney is not the right fit for your specific needs.
You should hire a social security disability attorney because with their assistance, your chances of receiving benefits significantly increase. It’s certainly true that some people who apply on their own are approved for benefits. However, statistics show that the Social Security Administration is more likely to approve applicants represented by legal counsel.
From the initial documentation and application process to the hearing level and beyond, disability attorneys understand how to properly present a case in a way that is most favorable to their clients. Additionally, on the initial application, a social security disability lawyer can offer advice on your “alleged onset date” of disability. Furthermore, they can show that your condition meets one of the listed impairments in the “blue book.”
At the appellate levels, your social security lawyer can collect and submit relevant medical evidence, obtain an opinion from your doctor, create a brief that will go to the ALJ, and prepare you for the types of questions that an ALJ will ask you at your appellate hearing. Finally, if your case is getting substantial pushback, your attorney may cross-examine an expert in your field or medical experts. The reason for this is that these experts can state that your disability does not allow you to work.
Contact Our Law Office for More Information
For more information on how to prepare to meet with a social security disability lawyer, contact Antonoplos & Associates at 202-803-5676. You can also directly schedule a consultation with one of our attorneys. Additionally, for general information on social security law, check out our blog.