Does it Pay Off to have an Attorney Help with a Disability Claim?
Legally Reviewed and Edited by: Terry Cochran
You can never plan for an accident, though you can sometimes plan for the effects of one. But if you have no plan in place and find yourself unable to work due to illness or injury, it can be reassuring to know that there are federal programs in place to financially support you for at least 12 months until you can return to work.
But as with any bureaucratic scheme, things do not always proceed smoothly. If your claim is refused for any reason, then it helps to have an experienced social security disability lawyer fighting your case to make sure you receive any due benefits.
Social Security Disability
Social Security Disability (SSD) is one of two schemes operated by the social security administration (SSA). Michigan sees only 29.7% of initial claims to this scheme accepted. This benefit is designed for workers who are currently unable to work but who have sufficient work credits.
Supplemental Security Income
Supplemental Security Income (SSI) is the other main federal benefits scheme and is aimed at workers who have either never worked or who do not have sufficient work credits to qualify for SSD.
Why Would I Need an Attorney?
When you have an attorney representing you, your chances of success increase dramatically. Although many clients choose not to have a lawyer for the initial application, the low percentage of successful claims at that stage shows that having knowledgeable advice and representation could be crucial to early success. The statistics from previous cases have shown that a client is more likely to be successful with their claim when a lawyer is working with them. And where your claim has to move to the different levels of appeal, engaging a lawyer can become a necessity.
What Happens If My Claim is Refused?
With over 70% of Michigan claims initially turned down, it helps to know what happens next. There are two main levels to the appeals process.
- Reconsideration. This is the first stage of the SSA having a second look at your claim. At this stage, your attorney or advocate can present a more detailed case and may add further evidence from your medical records and records. Both these stages are presided over by an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ). Your attorney can also put together a detailed brief with all details of your case and present it to the ALJ.
- Hearing. The second level is more advanced and any arguments presented may contain more details and additional testimony from medical experts. Experts may also be called to give evidence at the hearing.
Although these are the two main parts of the appeals process, being refused at those levels is not the end of appealing. We can elevate your case to the Appeals Council and ultimately to Federal Court if needed. If an appeal goes to these stages, it usually involves complex legal discussions with citation of legal precedents etc., so will always need the input of experienced lawyers and advocates.
How Long Will This Take and What Are My Chances?
Time frames can vary greatly in social security cases. We normally advise clients that it will take around one year as the average time from when we request a hearing to it happening is 324 days.
Again, chances of success vary a lot according to the circumstances of each case. At the first level of appeal – reconsideration – success rates in Michigan are only about 24%. But at hearing level, that jumps to 56.8%. One thing we also tell clients is that those are average figures and there can be dramatic differences in these rates between the various offices that handle these cases.
How Do I Find the Right Lawyer?
A lot of clients looking for the right lawyer or law firm comes to us through word of mouth or through an attorney referral service. You can also check the strength of your case by submitting a free evaluation request so we can look at your circumstances.
What Do I Have to Pay?
Unlike other areas where we would pursue a claim on your behalf, this area of law has a slightly different contingency fee agreement. Fees for these claims are set under federal law but you will only have to pay if we win your case. The fee is the lesser amount of 25% of any back payments you receive or $6,000.
Having your benefits claim refused can be frustrating and worrying, especially if you have bills and expenses mounting up with no source of income. Choosing the right attorney is crucial as it would be more frustrating to engage a lawyer only to find out the attorney has no experience in this area.
Cochran, Kroll & Associates, P.C. have many years of experience representing clients in the social security claim process, from assisting with your initial application through to federal court appeal hearings.
We offer a free initial appointment to advise you on how to proceed and offer a speedy response to user requests. You can book a free appointment by calling us today at 866-MICH-LAW.
Disclaimer : The information provided is general and not for legal advice. The blogs are not intended to provide legal counsel and no attorney-client relationship is created nor intended.