A Claimant for Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits may think to themselves, “I’ve seen some of the people who’ve gotten disability and they got it in no time at all even though they don’t look too disabled to me! I’ve worked all my life and paid into the system. My medical and psychological conditions are documented by the medical records and I’ve never been in trouble, why should I pay an Attorney when this should be a slam dunk?!” Then, after the first call to the Branch Office and waiting for half an hour to speak to someone if you’re lucky enough not to get cut off or hung up on, receiving the first packet of complex federal forms, and attending a disability examination and feeling like the doctor didn’t do anything, our Claimant begins to think, “Maybe I should’ve just gotten an attorney!” and hoping its not too late. This can be as far as a year into the waiting period for a hearing and the Claimant typically has two years from there. Can you afford to wait that long for your benefits? Can you afford a mistake that far along in the process? Could you have done something sooner to give yourself a better chance?
Abraham Lincoln’s memorable quote applies here, “He who represents himself has a fool for a client.” The Social Security Administration does not make it easy for anyone to receive disability benefits, but with an experienced attorney who cares about his clients and his reputation, the Administration can be made to listen and to act.
1. YOU PAY NOTHING UP FRONT: In a Social Security Disability or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) case, the Attorney’s fee is capped by a Federal law at 25% of the back due benefits with a maximum of $6,000.00 plus their expenses or, in rare and extraordinary cases, the fee may be more. This does NOT mean that you must come up with that money before we can begin work, of course. Disabled clients are already being attacked by creditors and debt collectors from all sides and oftentimes, before they have even accepted the possibility that they may never work again. Fortunately, the typical Social Security Fee Agreement is a contingency fee which means the fee is contingent upon the claimant receiving a favorable award. If we don’t win, the claimant doesn’t pay a fee and are only left with the expenses to reimburse.
2. BACK-DUE BENEFITS AND THE ONSET DATE OF DISABILITY: The Attorney’s fee comes from the Back Due Benefits or “Back-Pay” to which it’s commonly referred. Back due benefits are the benefits you receive when you are declared disabled sometime in the past. If you are awarded disability benefits on February 2, 2018, but were found to have been disabled since February 2, 2015 (the “Onset of Disability Date”), you have about thirty-one (31) months of disability back due benefits coming to you. You may ask: “Why don’t I get the full thirty-six 36 months of back due benefits?” Federal Law states that the first five months of disability benefits are not payable.
The reason this is important is that a competent attorney with a full grasp of your medical history will be able to amend your onset date at a hearing in the event it becomes necessary for you to win. For example, let’s say the medical evidence in the file is not strong enough to prove you’re are disabled on the date you allege you became disabled (i.e. you allege you were disabled on February 2, 2014 because of back pain but have only treated with a chiropractor). At the hearing, with your permission, your attorney may “amend” or change your onset date to a date when the medical proof is stronger (on February 2, 2015 there was an MRI taken which shows a herniated disc that wasn’t there before) which allows the Judge to make a favorable decision.
You need an attorney to explain the consequences of this on your amount of Back pay and when you become eligible for Medicare benefits because IT HAS CONSEQUENCES FOR BOTH.
These are two of the reasons you should have an attorney, but far from the only two. We will provide you more reasons why you should visit us to discuss your options with disability. Our attorneys have practiced before dozens of Judges each with their own styles, their own pet peeves, their own way of thinking that only can become apparent through experienced practicing before them and reading their opinions. This kind of experience gives you the best chance to win. Call now to set up a consultation about your disability case.
Camden & Meridew, P.C. is a full service law firm located in Fishers, Indiana. We have attorneys who specialize in Social Security Disability. If you would like to schedule an appointment to speak to one of our attorneys please call Corey Meridew at 317-770-0000 or complete our online contact form today.
This website supplies general information about the law but it is provided for informational purposes only. This content does not create an attorney-client relationship and more importantly is not meant to constitute legal advice. You should not act on any of the information contained herein without first consulting an attorney.