Whether you need to hire a lawyer is a reasonable question. In the last blog article we looked briefly at what constitutes disability. I now want to look at the affordability of hiring an attorney on your disability claim.
Lawyers are not free, and they are entitled to charge a fee for helping you with your social security disability claim. However, the fee that a lawyer may charge to represent you on your social security disability claim is set by federal law. This means that whether you choose the lawyer from down the street that helped you purchase a home or did your cousin's divorce, or a lawyer anywhere in the country, the fee is the same. The fee is also the same regardless of whether you hire an attorney to help you with the initial application, or whether you wait until the day before the hearing in front of the judge. A lawyer handling your disability claim is likely going to work on a contingency fee, meaning the lawyer is going to recover a fee only if he or she is successful in winning your case.
The contingency fee the lawyer can charge you is 25% of your back due benefits, not to exceed $6,000. We will talk more about how your back due benefits are determined in a later case study, but for now, this means your lawyer's fee will never be more than $6,000. A lawyer is, however, allowed to charge you also for his or her case expenses. Case expenses are things like the cost of getting your medical records, hiring a vocational expert, getting a statement from your doctor, or other expenses to help document your medical impairment(s). These are expenses that your attorney pays on your behalf through your claim, so that you do not have to.
Many lawyers, even those that handle social security disability claims, do not want to get involved until a Claimant has requested a hearing. However, having a lawyer help you, even with the initial application, is beneficial because a lawyer who handles disability claims can help you complete all the paperwork in a manner that best represents the true nature of your medical condition(s) and impairments and can best help ensure your written answers explain how severe your condition is that keeps you from working, especially since that documentation becomes a permanent part of your file. Most people do not want to go to court at a social security disability hearing in front of a judge without legal representation. Because of this, it would make sense for you to hire an attorney as soon as you make the decision to apply for social security disability benefits since the fee you pay your attorney will be the same. In this way, the attorney who is trained to handle social security disability claims can help you with the filing of the proper paperwork and completing them in a way that best represents your medical conditions that keep you from working, and can work with your doctors and other health care professionals to best document for the Social Security Administration your specific medical condition(s) and impairments that keep you from working.