The CDC estimates that more than 1.6 million adults in Virginia live with a disability. That’s around 24% of the state population.
Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits can provide financial relief for individuals who cannot work due to their condition. However, the process of applying for and obtaining SSD can be tedious, time-consuming, and more than a little complex.
A disability attorney will be well-versed in every part of the system. With the right legal team on your side, you can navigate the application to improve your likelihood of a favorable outcome. If your claim is denied, you’ll have a knowledgeable expert who can appeal the decision and fight for you.
Yet, not every attorney is created equal. Today, we’re sharing six questions to ask as you interview prospective lawyers to find the right fit.
Do You Have Experience in SSD Benefits Cases?
Similar to the medical field, the legal field has different specializations that individuals can pursue. Just as you wouldn’t trust an eye doctor to perform an appendectomy, you also don’t want to hire a lawyer who doesn’t have experience in disability benefits.
A criminal defense attorney might be excellent at what they do, but unless they also happen to specialize in disability law, they won’t be the best one for the job. Instead, look for someone who has worked in this field for years, and has a proven track record of successful outcomes.
Ask them to describe their expertise, and any recent cases they’ve worked on that were similar to yours. Our disability attorneys have decades of experience helping clients just like you apply for SSD benefits, file appeals, and secure the compensation they deserve.
How Will You Approach My Case?
It’s helpful to understand a lawyer’s basic process before signing on any dotted lines. While they might not get too specific during an initial interview, they should be able to speak openly about how they’ll approach certain steps, such as:
- Assessing your case
- Building and organizing evidence
- Interacting with your insurance carrier
- Filing an appeal (if necessary)
Successful lawyers will have a blueprint of best practices that they can apply to your case. While each client is unique, they’ll understand that following these repeatable steps can help them stay organized and efficient.
Are You Familiar With My Disability?
As they build each disability case, lawyers will need to complete a variety of different medical forms and records. Then, if they need to appeal the Social Security Administration (SSA)’s decision, they’ll complete even more. They may also consult and interview medical experts to make sure your claim is as thorough as possible.
In addition to holding these outside consultations, it’s important that your lawyer also has a baseline understanding of your condition. While some types of disabilities are relatively common, others, such as certain genetic disorders, are more obscure. In addition to physical disabilities, this also applies to mental disabilities, especially those with symptoms that aren’t always obvious from the outset.
Finding a lawyer who’s unfamiliar with your specific condition isn’t necessarily a red flag. However, the attorney should be willing to learn as much as possible about your disability so they can understand and represent your best interests.
Are You Licensed to Practice in My State?
This one might sound like a given, but you need to ensure that the lawyer you hire is licensed to perform work in your state of residence.
Before making a hiring decision, ask to see a copy of their license, as well as any other professional credentials that can speak to their experience, credibility, and expertise. If they rebuke or deny your request, consider this a sign to continue your search elsewhere.
Often, high-performing legal teams are honored or recognized by industry associations for their excellence. If your disability lawyer has received any of these accolades, it can also be helpful to view them.
If there are any questions about your lawyer’s credentials, you can also contact your state’s bar association to learn more about them, including any disciplinary actions filed against their firm.
What Fees Are Required for Your Services?
Most disability lawyers work on a contingency basis. This means they don’t charge up-front for their services. Instead, they will retain a portion of your earnings if your claim is successful.
While this is how most fee structures are set up, don’t assume that’s the case with yours. Always confirm the payment process so you can make sure there aren’t any hidden or unexpected costs down the road.
Where Is Your Office Located? Do You Offer Accessibility Modifications?
If you have a severe disability, it might not be easy for you to drive a long distance to get to a lawyer’s office. Even if mobility isn’t a concern, you still don’t want to spend hours on the road just to meet with your attorney.
Ask where the team’s physical office is located. If you prefer to meet in person, make sure the commute is manageable. Some lawyers may even arrange home visits if your disability prevents you from leaving your property.
Alternatively, you can also inquire about video calls. In today’s Digital Age, many businesses can accommodate virtual meetings via Zoom or similar platforms, and attorney’s offices are no different. Your attorney should be able to honor your requests to meet over the Internet, at least for a portion of the times you communicate.
Hire an Experienced Disability Attorney Today
If you’re living with a disability, you deserve access to the SSD benefits that are rightfully yours. However, this system can be incredibly frustrating and difficult to understand. Even if you do everything correctly, the SSA could still deny your claim.
This is where a reputable and well-qualified disability attorney can make all the difference. When you have the right person representing you, your next steps aren’t as daunting.
At Hunter & Everage, we understand the SSD process forward and backward. We can help you organize your information, complete and submit your application, and appeal any denials you may receive.
To schedule a meeting with one of our attorneys, complete our online form!