Five Questions to ask BEFORE choosing a disability lawyer!

Need help choosing a disability lawyer? Start by asking these five questions.

There are so many options for representation available. How can you narrow down the choices, and pick the attorney or firm that is a good fit for you?

These are questions every client should consider asking of their potential disability attorneys, even us.

1. Do you use a case manager to handle your disability cases?

This is important because you are hiring an attorney, not a case manager. A case manager is a not necessarily a bad thing. Our assistants do many things a case manager does: follow up with clients, order and submit records, and follow up with providers. However, if the case manager handles ALL of the case until the hearing, this can be a problem.

Answer from us: No. We do not use case managers. We are a disability team and work together on every case.

2. How involved is the attorney in my case?

While your attorney is too busy to handle every aspect of your case, they should be reviewing your records and directing the case manager, as well as working on preparing your case for the Administrative Law Judge (or other appropriate level.) Every case is different so the level of involvement would be different, but make sure your attorney gives an answer that satisfies your expectations before you hire them.

Answer from us: We are very involved. We may not speak with our clients frequently, but someone on our team does – and keeps us updated on the client’s situation, so we can act quickly when the need arises.

3. What is the law firm’s communication policy?

Every attorney, not just disability attorneys, should have a client communication policy, and be able to express that to you, the client.

With SSDI or SSI disability claims, the communication seems to be heavy at the beginning of the relationship and then heavy again right before the hearing. That does not mean a law firm should “go silent” in between.

You should probably be in contact with your law firm or representative about every other month. Why? Your representative will need updates on recent medical treatment, new doctors or medications, or changes in your diagnoses. Many firms wait until it’s time to prepare for the hearing before requesting this information. When this happens, it is too easy to forget potentially important details such as occasional urgent care visits, referrals, and medication changes.

For cases at the Appeals Council and Federal Court levels, frequent communication is not as vital because you are usually not providing any NEW medical evidence.

Answer from us: You will hear from someone on our team about once a month to once every other month. If you don’t like to talk on the phone (many clients don’t!), we can contact you via text, email, or by letter. As noted above, communication is much less frequent with Appeals Council cases.

4. How much of the attorney’s caseload and experience is with Social Security cases?

The more time a lawyer spends on one area of law, the more proficient he or she is likely to become. We are not saying a disability lawyer must dedicate 100% of their practice to SSDI/SSI cases to be an effective advocate. However, when a firm practices several areas of law… watch out for these possibilities:

First, a big firm has many lawyers and several levels of management and personnel. Now, these lawyers may be experienced and able to help, but sometimes clients risk becoming “just a number.” When this happens, it is hard for the lawyer to truly care about the client’s situation, and easier for a case to fall through the cracks. If you go with a big firm, be sure that YOU keep in contact so you are not forgotten.

Second, a general practitioner attorney may take on any case that comes through the door in order to keep their lights on. While this is admirable, the problem is that disability law can be highly technical and procedurally very different than other types of law. It would be easy for a general practitioner to miss subtle points of law that might make or break your disability case.

Answer from us: About 90% of our caseload is made up of Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) disability appeals.

5. Lastly, ask “why disability law?”

An attorney should have a reason for practicing an area of law. Sometimes it is simply because they enjoy helping clients and/or that particular type of law is profitable.

For disability clients, we feel it should be different. Disability claimants have way too much at stake to risk using just any lawyer.

Answer from us: We represent Social Security Disability claimants because we understand disability and the need to have someone fighting for you. Our attorneys have a disabled child, and many of our staff members have experience with disability in their own families. We believe it is our duty and obligation to advocate for those who are sick, tired, and running out of fight.

Do you need help with your SSD/SSI appeal and hearing?

If you are disabled and need with your Social Security Disability Hearing, contact Deborah at The Hardin Law Firm, PLC, for help with your SSDI/SSI appeal and hearing.

ATTORNEY: Learn more about our Attorneys and Staff.

SERVING: Cabot, Beebe, Ward, Searcy, Jacksonville, Lonoke County, White County, Faulkner County, and other central Arkansas areas.

DISCLAIMER: The information contained in this web site is intended to convey general information. It should not be construed as legal advice or opinion. It is not an offer to represent you, nor is it intended to create an attorney-client relationship.

Originally published: July 24, 2017

 Last updated: July 24, 2017 at 14:54 pm