Social Security Disability
Social Security Disability benefits are monetary benefits paid by the U.S. Government to individuals that the Social Security Administration determines are disabled and unable to work based upon their age, education, past work experience and disabilities.
QUESTION: Do I need a lawyer to file for disability benefits?
ANSWER: No, but you will need a lawyer later if you are turned down for benefits. For instance, you do not need a lawyer to file your initial application for benefits. If your initial application is turned down, then you have the right to file for “Reconsideration” within 60 days of your initial denial. You do not need a lawyer to file for Reconsideration, however, if you prefer to have a lawyer, I will represent you at the Reconsideration stage. If you are turned down on Reconsideration, you have sixty days to file for a hearing in front of an Administrative Law Judge. This is where you really need a lawyer to help you. You should call me immediately when you are turned down for Reconsideration.
QUESTION: How much do you charge?
ANSWER: The federal government regulates how much attorneys can charge which is 25% of any award of past due benefits. If we do not win your case, you owe nothing.
QUESTION: What happens at the hearing in front of the judge?
ANSWER: The hearing in front of the Administrative Law Judge is informal, but it should be taken very seriously. It usually last about an hour. I will be present with you. The judge will be present along with a vocational expert and a court reporter. You can have a friend or witness present as well. In some cases, the judge will have a medical expert present. You will be sworn in and the judge will admit into evidence all of your medical records. Then the judge will ask you questions about your age, education, past work, disabilities and limitations. The judge will also ask questions to any experts present. I will have the opportunity to also ask you quesions and cross examine the experts.
QUESTION: When will I know if I win my case?
ANSWER: The judge mail a written decision to both you and I approximately two to three months after the hearing, however, I usually can tell after the hearing whether you have won or lost.
QUESTION: If I lose my case in front of the judge, can I appeal again?
ANSWER: Yes, you can appeal to the Appeals Council in Falls Church, Virginia. However, you do not get to testify again, instead, the record is reviewed for errors by the judge. Therefore, your best chance of winning is in front of the Administrative Law Judge.