Applying for benefits from the Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) program is complicated and very often confusing. The application can be time-consuming, and applicants must usually wait several months to get a response from the Social Security Administration (SSA). An experienced and knowledgeable SSDI attorney can help you present your case efficiently and effectively, and can guide you through the maze of offices, procedures, bureaucrats, and regulations that make up the Social Security system. Choosing the right SSDI lawyer for you is important. You want someone who knows the law and the system, and who can also address the specific needs of your case. A good SSDI lawyer can take much of the burden off of your shoulders by dealing with the SSA on your behalf.
At what point in the process should I hire an SSDI lawyer?
If you are planning on filing an SSDI claim, or are even merely thinking about planning, it is never too early to consult with an SSDI lawyer to learn more about the process. If you have already filed an SSDI claim, you may seek the assistance of an SSDI lawyer at any time. An SSDI lawyer can get involved in your case at any stage of the process, from an initial filing to a final appeal.
What information will an SSDI lawyer need?
To make an effective case for disability benefits to the SSA, you need to show that you have an injury or medical condition that is expected to last for at least a year or longer or constitute a condition that is expected to result in death. This may be established by meeting the criteria of one of the Social Security Listing of Impairments (a designated list of medical conditions under Social Security’s rules that, if met, constitute automatic eligibility to Social Security disability benefits), or by showing that one’s functional abilities to work or so limited (that is to say, that their Residual Functional Capacity (RFC) is so limited) that they remain incapable of performing either their past relevant work or other work that exists in significant numbers in the national economy. An experienced Social Security lawyer will be able to evaluate these factors for you when they speak with you. Likewise, you must also establish that you have enough work history to make you eligible for SSDI benefits. The above considerations require that they obtain from you extensive information regarding your past employment, the conditions of that employment and past work, education and training, your medical history, your current diagnosis or diagnoses, your current treatment plan, any future treatment or surgeries you anticipate needing, and any other information they know the SSA will deem relevant to your claim.
Attorneys have an ethical obligation to maintain the confidentiality of all information they receive from clients, so your medical records and other personal information is secure in the hands of a good SSDI lawyer.
Will my SSDI lawyer work with my doctors?
It is not enough for an SSDI claimant to present copies of medical records to the SSA. The claimant’s doctors must be an active part of the SSDI claim process. We take an active role in obtaining information from our clients’ medical providers, working side by side with you, beginning with questionnaires that we draft for the treating physicians to address with you during the course of an office visit. This will allow us to obtain additional evidence as to the nature and severity of your medical conditions and how they impact both your ability to function at home and in the workplace. This process should begin as soon as possible, ideally from the outset of an SSDI application.
How much does an SSDI lawyer cost?
Lawyers are required to have their fee agreements approved by the Social Security Administration and such fees will only be approved if it conforms with the Social Security Act and the rules and regulations established by the Social Security Administration. Fees for work undertaken before the Administrative agency are contingent upon winning and limited by federal law to 25% of the past due benefits obtained for the claimant and his/her family and dependents entitled to collect under their record. The fees are further limited to 25% of the past due benefits and are capped by Federal law (that is, they cannot exceed) what is presently $6,000.00. Fees are typically set aside by the Social Security Administration and paid directly to the lawyer based on this formula, assuming the fee agreement so specified (and the fee agreement was approved by the Social Security Administration at the time of approval of your claim). This means that our fee is paid from money that we recover for you. If your claim is not successful, we do not collect a fee.
Will an SSDI lawyer work with me on multiple stages of the SSDI claim process?
The SSDI claim process typically involves at least two stages. Since the SSA denies as much as 70 percent of all initial SSDI claims, a considerable number of claims move on to the appeal stage. In Maine and Massachusetts, appealing the denial of a claim is a two-step process: requesting reconsideration of the claim, followed by a hearing before an administrative law judge (ALJ). Some states, including New Hampshire, do not have a request for reconsideration procedure (as it was made one of the pilot project states that no longer has a request for reconsideration process). Following an initial denial in New Hampshire, one’s appeal goes directly to the hearing level for a hearing before an ALJ.
It is wise to obtain an SSDI Lawyer with years of experience at all stages of the SSDI claims process, who can get involved at any point throughout the process. Attorney Russell Goldsmith has been handling disability claims throughout New England for more than 25 years, having handled 1000’s of Social Security disability claims successfully during that time. We can help you whether you are preparing your initial application, need for us to request an appeal for reconsideration or hearing, or require us to jump in during the late stages of the hearing process (or potentially even after an unfavorable determination from an ALJ).
Get your SSDI claim going in the right direction by calling the Law Offices of Russell J. Goldsmith at 1-800-773-8622 to schedule a free and confidential consultation.
More Blog Posts:
How to Apply for SSDI Benefits in Maine and Beyond, Social Security Disability Lawyer Blog, July 1, 2015
What is SSDI? An Overview for Residents of Massachusetts and Other States, Social Security Disability Lawyer Blog, June 24, 2015
Qualifying for Social Security Disability Insurance, Social Security Disability Lawyer Blog, June 17, 2015