How to Choose a Disability Attorney

When you need help starting or appealing a disability claim, it can be difficult to know which attorney to hire. Statistically speaking, disabled people are far more likely to be approved by Social Security if they have an attorney.

Here are some things to consider.

1. Does This Attorney Know Social Security Inside and Out?

Disability law is somewhat of a specialty. Lawyers that do not practice mostly Social Security law are unlikely to be very familiar with the complex Social Security Disability and SSI regulations. You wouldn't hire a heart doctor to treat your back, and the same goes for law. Look for attorneys that belong to professional groups like the National Organization of Social Security Claimants Representatives (NOSSCR) to determine which ones are really up to date on Social Security law. Other attorneys just wouldn't know how to question you at your disaiblity hearing or how to challenge the testimony of vocational expert witnesses.

2. Is This Lawyer Local?

You might see commercials for lawyers on TV wearing cowboy hats and loudly declaring things like "Nobody intimidates our clients." Many of the lawyers you'll get by calling those numbers are from out of state. They do not know the judges at your locan Socail Security hearings offices, they do not know the vocational and medical experts, and they do not know the local practices. Often, these out-of-town attorneys do not meet their clients before the hearing or ever work on the files themselves. Be very careful hiring one of these lawyers. 

3. Can I Afford a Disability Attorney?

Almost all Social Security disability lawyers charge the exact same fee. Our fees have to be approved by the Social Security judge in order to be withheld from your disability backpay and paid to us by Social Security. And your attorney will only get paid if you are awarded benefits.  

The fee is 25% of your back benefits (these are the Social Security disaiblty or SSI benefits that should have paid you if Social Security had found you disabled correctly back right you applied), up to a maximum of $6,000.  Except for your back benefits check, out of which the attorney fee will be taken, you will always get the full amount Social Security owes you going forward.  

4. Read Attorneys' Profiles in Nolo's Lawyer Directory

Nolo's Lawyer Directory offers in depth-profiles of each attorney. You'll find out how much of the attorneys practice is dedicated to Social Security disability, what kinds of cases the lawyer has won in the past, whether the attorney is certified by the Veterans Administration, and so on. Read about disability attorneys in your state.


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