Hiring an attorney can be scary. You are asking someone to represent you with a legal issue that affects your life! If you are like most people, you’ve had very little if any interaction with attorneys or the legal process. So how will you know what to expect throughout the process? In terms of Social Security Disability, there are a few basic services your disability attorney should be providing you.
- Your attorney or designated support staff should be accessible. Yes, the social security application process is long and requires some patience on your end. It’s not unusual for a few months to go by without any updates on your claim. This is not a result of a lack of effort by your representative. Usually, it’s as simple as the Social Security Administration (SSA) being understaffed. In this scenario, you should not expect your attorney to call you every week. However, you should have a designated support staff at the firm whom you can speak with at any point about your case. This designated support staff should be your main point of contact. If you have questions, concerns, or you want to give an update on your medical condition, you should be able to reach this individual at the firm within 24 hours.
- Your attorney will act as a liaison between you and Social Security. For the most part, your attorney will maintain contact with Social Security. There are times that SSA will need specific information from you that only you will be able to provide. But that is something your attorney will let you know. Your attorney and support staff should assist you in completing those forms and making sure they are submitted timely.
- You should not be getting your own medical records. This is something your attorney should be doing on your behalf. Of course, there are times you will have an easier time getting information from your doctor. But that situation is rare.
- If you need to go to a disability hearing before an administrative law judge you should expect that your attorney will prepare you for the hearing. Preparation should include an explanation of what to expect and confirming a complete medical history is submitted to the Judge. You should go over the types of questions that will be asked at the hearing. An important aspect of the hearing is for you to be a good witness. Your attorney should go over the types of questions that will be asked of you and the best way to provide a truthful and thorough explanation of your situation.
My number #1 rule is you need to trust your attorney. The two of you have a common goal and must work together to reach that goal. You are in a desperate financial situation. You’re not working. You’re struggling with your health conditions and wondering how you are going to pay your bills next month. The last thing you should be worrying about is whether your disability attorney is competently representing you. And if you are worried about that, you will not only be stressing yourself out but also stressing the attorney and the attorney’s staff. A lack of trust in this relationship is not healthy for both the client and the attorney.
In my practice, I find the biggest source of frustration from new clients who have withdrawn from a prior representative, is the lack of communication from their prior representative. When a client says to me their prior representative never explained the process or gave them updates on their claim I am rarely surprised to hear they were working with a national company rather than a local attorney. As I said above, you should trust your representative. If you don’t trust them because you are not able to contact them or for whatever other reason, weigh the pros and cons of seeking new representation.
At the LaBovick Law Group we make sure all of our clients know what to expect regarding time frames. We also make sure our clients can speak with someone at any point regarding an update in their case or even just a quick question about the process. Call me at (561) 623-3681 with your questions.