When a person sustains a disability that has drastically changed his or her employment options, economic concerns are often foremost in mind. Whether the harm resulted from a serious injury or a slowly developing chronic condition, people need honest answers and steady guidance to pursue the benefits they have earned from years of dedicated service, including workers’ compensation and Social Security Disability (SSD) Insurance.
The most important advice potential applicants need is to hear is that the Social Security Administration’s (SSA) process moves much more slowly than obtaining workers’ compensation benefits in Michigan. In some cases, an SSD lawyer may advise clients to go ahead and launch initial applications on their own and come back if – and likely when – they are denied. But in most cases, a person with a disability is well advised to work with an attorney from the start to ensure that the application is accurate, timely, comprehensive and persuasive.
A lawyer who is familiar with all aspects of disability law will share the benefits of experience at every step in the process. An SSD attorney can explain the importance of requesting a hearing before the administrative law judge (ALJ), obtain and review exhibits compiled by the SSA, contact doctors to ensure the inclusion of the latest medical files, and integrate a client’s medical records into a description of the client’s condition that anticipates the SSA’s expectations.
An experienced SSD attorney understands the complex regulations and evidence rules that govern the process, and knows what ALJs look for in the medical records, forms and questionnaires on which they base their decisions. If further appeal is necessary, a thorough record can be easily supplemented by any medical developments, and the process can proceed without delay.
Factors to Consider When Choosing an Attorney for Your SSD Claim
An attorney’s guidance is an important asset in any SSD case, but the burden is on the client to make a wise choice from the outset. A starting point: ask the law firm about the number of SSD and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) cases they have handled, how often they help their clients succeed and how quickly the process will proceed. A lawyer who dangles promises of a quick turnaround may not have your best interests at heart. It is not unusual for the process to take up to two years.
Just as important, you should expect value from investing your trust in a legal professional. Some disability attorneys offer legal services on a contingent fee basis, meaning that the client pays for legal services only if he or she is awarded benefits. Take into account whether the law firm’s policy is to cap their contingency fee, which means that more benefits will be directed applicant’s long term needs, not fees. By asking the right questions, you can proceed with confidence in pursuit of the benefits you deserve.