How Are Attorneys That Represent SSD Applications Compensated?
The most common way for the attorneys to get paid is a fee agreement that involves a fee of twenty-five percent of the past due benefit. If you apply for disability this year and assert your onset to be 2014 and you are awarded back benefits from 2014 till whenever that decision is made, say some time in 2016, the attorney would be eligible for twenty-five percent of the past due benefits up to a maximum of $6,000 in order to be paid. They can also do it on an hourly fee, which is based on contract and a fee petition, which is done and approved by the Social Security Administration.
In other cases, we will do a fee petition based upon an hourly fee where going into the case, we know that there is not going to be back benefits because they are offset by some other programs but the person still needs to get on disability and then they understand at the beginning, you are going to have to pay that money out of pocket, but that has to be approved by the Social Security Administration.
Is It Advisable To Retain An Attorney When Applying For SSD Benefits?
I prefer to represent somebody from the beginning! You can have an attorney represent you from beginning to end. I prefer to do it at the beginning because I can help get the records to Social Security and get the forms to the doctors and get things prepared a lot quicker. We do take cases even that are already set for a hearing if we have enough time that we feel that we can prepare the file adequately to attend a hearing. It does not cost the client any more or less to get an attorney on or at the beginning of a case than it does at the end, so with all the forms and all the hoops that you have to go through, I think it is in the client’s best interest to have an attorney from the beginning.
What Is The Best Time To Initiate The SSD Benefits Applications Process?
As soon as you are aware that you will be unable to work for a period of twelve months or more. You do not necessarily have to wait till you are out of work for twelve months, but if you have some disability or some injury where the recuperation period is going to be at least twelve months, apply right away. The process takes time, so you are better off to apply right away and go through the process while you are also trying to go through the treatment rather than to wait the twelve months and start the process then and then you have another several months to several years to get through the system.
What Happens During The Hearing Stage Of A SSD Benefits Application Process?
Once the file is transferred to the hearing office, here in Tampa, it is about twelve months to get a hearing. Sometimes it is a little longer as long as you do not qualify for the Compassionate Allowance and those types of things! Once you get to that stage and the hearing is set before what we call an A L J or administrative law judge.That administrative law judge may also bring experts in such as MEs or VEs. MEs are medical experts and VEs are vocational experts. They may do paper reports or they may appear at the hearing. The vocational experts almost always appear at the hearing, the medical experts are sometimes done as a paper review.
The testimony is taken by the judge while you are at the hearing and that testimony is taken from the claimant themselves as well as any witnesses that you may bring. Generally, we advise one lay witness that has been involved in your life on a pretty consistent basis since your onset of disability. Sometimes the claimant themselves are not able to really articulate what is going on with them but a husband, wife, child or a parent has seen the process evolve and they are better able to give testimony on that. Once the testimony is given and the legal arguments are made by the attorney, the judges will sometimes render a decision right there at the hearing but sometimes they do not and there should not be anything assumed by whether you get a decision at the time of the hearing or not. A decision will be mailed usually within three months of the hearing.
There are some judges that just do not like to give decisions, good or bad, while they are at the hearing. If you do not get a decision at the hearing, then you have to wait for the paper decision. You have to wait for the paper decision before you are going to get any money anyway and that is normally what we tell people. It is usually a three-month process and that is an average. There are some decisions we have received in as little as a week and a half and other decisions that have taken six months.
Is There Any Recourse If SSD Benefits Are Denied?
Each level of your application process has a denial that states the process for the appeal right in the denial itself. There are different forms at each level that have to be completed and submitted in order to appeal that denial. Generally, it is a sixty day appeal period for each one of them and at sixty days from the date on the denial letter itself and they allow five days for mailing.
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