The process of obtaining Social Security can be time-consuming, stressful, and confusing.
Whether you’re filing your initial disability claim or working with a Social Security Disability Attorney on an appeal to a denial of your claim, you may still not have much personal knowledge of where you are in the process.
For this reason, we put together this list of 5 questions you should ask your Social Security Disability Attorney about your claim.
A Primer on Social Security Disability
Before we cover the five questions you should ask your Social Security Disability Attorney, let’s get a brief overview of what a social security disability insurance is and why it is so important to hire an attorney for it.
Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) is a program that works in favor for people who are severely ill or physically impaired to provide them with monthly support in the form of financial compensation. A Social Security disability attorney helps you in planning out your appeal and represents you in any administrative law hearings related to it. The amount of work a Social Security attorney may end up doing on your behalf could vary widely depending on the particulars of your claim and/or appeal. So, as you’re considering who you want to work with, you may also want to consider these five questions to ask your (potential) Social Security disability attorney as well.
What Other Benefits Do I Qualify For?
The primary benefit you’re seeking with Social Security disability is compensation. Monthly income. In some cases, you may qualify for additional benefits or even compensation through other benefits programs, in addition to SSDI.
These could include some retirement benefits, long-term disability benefits through a private insurer (or your previous employer), VA service-connected disability compensation, and more. You should also look at state and local benefits that may be available. This is yet another great reason to work with a local disability attorney. They will have a better understanding of what might be available locally, as well as a firm grasp on how Social Security disability interacts with other federal and commercial financial benefits.
Ask your social security disability attorney what you qualify for and what benefits may be provided to you along with the social security disability benefits.
What Can I Do To Help My Own claim?
The first thing you need to understand is that most applicants are denied on their first attempt. So the first thing to do is not to panic. However, if you and your Social Security disability attorney stick with your claim, it is likely you’ll eventually find success in your claim. To help your attorney they’ll probably ask you for all your recent medical records and all paperwork that can help you in your case. These represent objective facts, and are hard to argue against – that’s why your attorney wants to have them available.
However, there are truths about your claim that may not be represented on paper. You may know things that your attorney doesn’t know about your claim. An astute attorney will know what kind of information you might still have, that they need. But it requires two-way communication. The best way to start that is to ask how you can help in the first place.
How Will We Plan to Prepare for a Hearing?
The Social Security hearing is a stressful event for most claimants. Planning ahead will help everyone involved. However, do a quick google search and read a few reviews of Social Security attorneys. The low reviews almost always state something to the effect of, “attorney met with me two hours before hearing,” or, “attorney met me the day before hearing, that’s the only time we talked. Didn’t know my claim at all!”
This happens often enough that it’s almost the norm… Though, it shouldn’t be. You can pre-empt this nightmare scenario by asking your Social Security disability attorney, “how will we plan to prepare for a hearing?” If they can’t lay out a process that makes sense, they may be putting you in front of a judge at some point, unprepared. Be aware of attorneys without plans.
How Do You Prefer We Stay in Contact?
Communication is vital in dealing with a Social Security disability denial and all the events, and coordination an appeal to it requires. That is why you and your Social Security disability attorney should decide the best possible form of contact.
Whether the communication plan is face-to-face meetings, emails, traditional mail, fax, text message, or smoke signals, you need to layout a system that enables effectiveness. And it needs to work for both of you.
Do You Have All My Doctors’ Contact Information?
It is very important to give all the healthcare information you have to your Social Security disability attorney. This means all your medical records, related documents plus all your doctors’ contact details. This should also include their contact number, office address and in some cases, home address for emergency situations.
Make a personal copy of all this information too, to keep for your own records, and to provide as a source for future copies needed by another attorney (if need be), other benefits providers, and/or for other reasons not yet realized, such as a will or estate plan.