In over 10 years of practicing, I’ve come to identify several pitfalls that many claimants fall into when applying for Social Security. Avoiding these can greatly increase your chances of getting a favorable decision. In this four part series I want to help you identify these issues to increase your chances of getting a favorable decision.
PART FOUR: NOT HIRING AN ATTORNEY. Hiring an attorney to help you obtain Social Security benefits should not cost you anything out of pocket. Attorneys practicing Social Security law are paid on a contingent fee basis. What that means is that the attorney only earns a fee if you win. The standard attorney fee agreement says that the attorney will receive 25% of your past-due benefits not to exceed $6,000. Your past-due benefits are determined by whatever your monthly benefit is, times how many every months it takes to get to a favorable decision from the time you became disabled.
Statistically, more claims are approved when there is an attorney involved. Different than an attorney you might see in a television drama, a Social Security attorney acts more as a guide to help you reach a successful outcome. We are an extra set of eyes to help ensure no deadlines are missed, that all relevant evidence is submitted, and that you are focusing on the right issues when going into your hearing. An attorney should be able to explain different parts of the hearing, why they matter, and what information they are looking for in order to make a determination. And finally, if the claim is not successful at the hearing, an attorney should be able to identify what essential errors were made in the hearing record to be successful on appeal.
Even though Social Security is a non-adversarial system, as opposed to what youd see on television, the judges are not there to look out for your best interest or give you the benefit of the doubt. Why not have an advocate on your side who has been there many times before and knows how to present the best claim possible?