Social Security disability benefits can be a lifeline for some people. Unfortunately, the process to apply for those benefits can be a confusing one. From collecting the medical evidence required to filling out the application itself to, each step of the process requires meticulous attention to detail and can also be time-consuming. If you are getting ready to apply for benefits, or have applied and been denied, friends or family may have suggested you hire a Social Security disability attorney. You may be wondering exactly what this kind of lawyer can do for you, though. A qualified attorney may be able to help you in a variety of ways. If you are applying for disability, or have already applied and been denied, consider reaching out to the experienced attorneys at Bruce L. Weider, PC by calling (734) 485-0535 and scheduling a free initial consultation to review your case.
What Can a Social Security Disability Attorney Do?
There is no requirement that claimants must be represented by a Social Security disability attorney to apply for benefits or to appeal a denial. Claimants are legally allowed to represent themselves throughout the entire process if that is their preference. However, if they choose to hire an attorney, the attorney may be able to assist them by:
- Reviewing the case: The attorney will likely start by familiarizing themselves with a claimant’s current situation and, if applicable, reviewing the reasons provided for initial denial in order to prepare for an appeal or for discussions with Social Security claims examiners.
- Developing “theories”: A theory shows Social Security why the claimant meets the definition of disabled. In this context, a theory might be that the claimant’s condition meets a disability listing found in the Social Security Blue Book, that the claimant “grids out” of any type of work based on Social Security Medical-Vocational Guidelines, or that the claimant’s condition prevents even sedentary work.
- Filling in application gaps: An attorney may be able to find gaps in the information provided in a claimant’s application. Sometimes information gaps can lead to a denial even if the claimant is otherwise qualified. The attorney may be able to help claimants fill those gaps by explaining what is missing and how to access and provide the kind of information that is needed.
- Gathering medical records and evidence: Approval for Social Security disability requires having medical evidence of the disability. A Social Security disability attorney may be able to help gather the right evidence to include, find copies of missing records, and sort through a claimant’s medical records to include only the essential documents.
- Representing claimant during appeal: Whether the claimant works with the attorney from the beginning of the process or hires one when their claim is denied, an attorney may be able to represent the claimant during the appeal process. If your claim has been denied, Bruce L. Weider, PC may be able to help.
What Is the Most a Disability Lawyer Can Charge?
The Social Security Administration Code of Federal Regulations dictates how much a Social Security disability attorney can charge for their services. The same code also specifies that the attorney can only collect a fee if the claimant is successfully approved for benefits; the attorney’s fee typically comes out of the past-due benefits. A disability attorney may charge 25% of the past-due benefits amount or $7,200, whichever is less. The $7,200 is effective November 30, 2022, from a Social Security Federal Register Notice.
The lawyer can submit a fee petition for more fees if the claim is denied and the claimant appeals. The lawyer may also charge the claimant for costs associated with the claim even if the claim is denied, such as:
- Obtaining medical records
- Travel expenses
- Filing fees
- Exam costs
What Is the Fastest You Can Get Approved for Disability?
The process to be approved or denied for Social Security disability typically takes three to five months. Complicated cases may even take more than a year. However, the Social Security Administration has two processes to fast-track applications if the condition is so severe it clearly meets disability standards. These two processes are the Quick Disability Determination (QDD) and the Compassionate Allowances (CAL). If an application is selected by QDD or CAL, it may be approved within days or weeks instead of months. However, even once approved, there is typically a five-month waiting period before benefits begin, regardless of whether the application is expedited or not.
Quick Disability Determination
Quick Disability Determination uses technology to screen the initial application to identify cases that have medical evidence readily available and are quite likely to be approved. Applications chosen by QDD are prioritized and expedited to approve the claims more quickly.
Compassionate Allowances is another software that identifies claims that clearly meet the statutory standard for disability and makes quick decisions. CAL differs from QDD because the conditions it primarily looks for are certain cancers, adult brain disorders, and a number of rare disorders affecting children.
How Do I Find a Social Security Disability Attorney?
From using a search engine to locate attorneys in your area to polling your social networks, there are many ways to choose a disability attorney. Some methods that are more effective and efficient than others, however. Methods that we recommend include:
- Asking the Social Security disability attorney about their approval rate: While past results do not guarantee future results, a higher approval rate indicates that the lawyer is experienced and knowledgeable about disability claims and, and thus may have successful claims again in the future.
- Asking friends, family, and your medical team for recommendations: People you know, particularly those on your medical team, can often be a great resource for finding a qualified attorney.
- Checking the State Bar of Michigan website: The State Bar of Michigan has a thorough list of disability attorneys in the state and allows you to search by different criteria.
Do You Need Help With Your Social Security Disability Application?
Social Security disability applications often require a great deal of information. The application process includes the often complicated and time-consuming task of gathering medical evidence of your disability. While you are legally permitted to manage the entire application by yourself, a Social Security disability attorney may be able to offer guidance and handle some of the work for you so that you can focus on taking care of yourself and your family. If you are ready to apply for Social Security disability, or have already applied and been denied, consider scheduling a free initial consultation with the knowledgeable attorneys at Bruce L. Weider, PC to look at your case and go over your legal options. Call our office at (734) 485-0535 today.