Research shows that people spend WAY more time selecting a car then they do an attorney - of any type! However, if you are looking for, and need, the services of a Disability Lawyer, it is STRONGLY recommended that you spend time preparing a search for, actually selecting, and actively working with the "right" one for you. Here are some suggestions for you in this process.
WHY WOULD I NEED A DISABILITY LAWYER?
First of all, a lawyer's presence gives you significant clout, or what is known as "gravitas" (i.e., credibility and wealth of expertise and experience) with Insurance Companies and the Social Security Administration (particularly in the appeals processes).
Secondly, disability lawyers are aware of any loopholes that may exist, and can help you focus your energies and activities toward a successful outcome, particularly if you are in an appeals process.
Finally, and most importantly, if you have already been denied benefits, you REALLY need that disability lawyer to assist you in the appeals processes.
RESEARCHING A DISABILITY LAWYER SOURCE
In future blogs, we will be providing direct links for you to use in locating a "disease-specific" Association or Organization in your state/location. These places are full of information, usually for free. And, they usually have a list of disability lawyers that their members have recommended.
Go online to a website that you have confidence in to search for law firms in your area. Visit their websites to check out their practice specialties, articles, clients, results, and personality. Particularly look to see if their website summarizes any cases in their areas of specialty.
Other "professional" friends or acquaintances of yours (Real Estate Agent; another type of lawyer; Church Pastor; Banker, etc.) might be able to recommend someone.
DISABILITY LAWYER SELECTION CRITERIA
Selecting a disability lawyer should be like selecting a doctor; you really have to be comfortable with the one you select; their personality, their style, their way of communicating, etc.
You want a lawyer with at least five to seven (5 - 7) years of experience (and at least 3 of those must be in your particular state). You want a lawyer who specializes in the area you need (i.e., Social Security law, or Disability Insurances - Long Term Disability Insurance), and whose practice is 70% to 75% or more in this specific area.
You want a lawyer who believes in communicating well with their client. You want him/her to be upfront and honest about your chances of winning.
YOUR INITIAL DISABILITY LAWYER CONSULTATION
Remember, you will want to select about 2 or 3 lawyers to interview, so that you have the ability to compare styles, personalities, and "fit" for you. Also, sometimes it helps to take along someone else that you trust, so that they can write down what is said.
Many disability lawyers will not charge for the initial free no-obligation initial consultation. BUT, IT IS YOUR RESPONSIBILITY TO COME PREPARED SO THAT YOU DO NOT WASTE THEIR TIME.
Take paper and pen to document your discussion. Write down your questions ahead of time, so that you will not forget them.
1) Explain your situation BRIEFLY. Start with what you want as an outcome from your association with the attorney.
2) Ask what his charges will be. See if he/she will not charge a fee unless they win or settle your case.
3) Ask how they will approach your problem.
4) Ask what you can do to improve your chances of success.
5) Ask what you can expect to happen over the next few weeks, months, at conclusion of the case.
6) Ask if they have any questions for you - about your case or anything else.
WHAT YOU SHOULD EXPECT FROM YOUR DISABILITY LAWYER, AND WHAT YOUR DISABILITY LAWYER SHOULD BE ABLE TO EXPECT FROM YOU!
You should expect your chosen disability lawyer, the right one for you, to be someone who is:
Honest about your situation, your chances, and each step in the process; Timely in scheduling meetings, turning in documents, in letting you know who, what, and where you need to do, go, and see; Available (either him/herself or someone on his/her staff) at critical junctions in your case; and, Realistic about the process, your case, and each step in the journey.
In exchange for his/her expertise in your case, your disability attorney should be able to expect the following from you. That you will be: Honest with him/her at all times; Timely in providing documents to him/her, in attending meetings, etc.; Prepared and available for each meeting, and respectful of his/her time; and, Realistic about your chances in the process.
Best of luck in your successful selection and work with the RIGHT disability attorney for you! If you have any additional suggestions for folks looking for a disability lawyer, we'd love to hear them.