If you have a disability case pending in Pennsylvania you are always free to represent yourself, but beware. Those who represent themselves are less likely to get approved for full benefits, especially at a hearing. Hiring a Pennsylvania disability lawyer might cost a little more, but the benefits far outweigh the costs. Here are some things to consider if you need a disability lawyer in Pennsylvania.
General Courtesy and Professionalism
It’s true that most law practices are extremely busy places, but that doesn’t give them the right to be short with you or neglect your needs. When you first contact an attorney’s office you should be treated with courtesy and respect. You should also have your questions answered fully and if a callback is needed it should come in a timely manner.
Meeting the Disability Lawyer
Most disability lawyers are extremely busy and spend a good portion of their time in hearings or meeting with clients. This might mean your initial calls are handled by one of the law practice staff members, but it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have the opportunity to meet with the lawyer for a free consultation. Just keep in mind that the scheduled meeting may be brief so be sure to have all your questions prepared in advance.
Promises of Guaranteed Benefits
No lawyer can guarantee the outcome of any case. In fact it is considered a breach of ethics for an attorney to do so. Any attorney worth working with will freely admit they can’t guarantee results, but they should be able to explain how they can help with your case.
Number of Cases Won by the Disability Lawyer in Pennsylvania
Any good law firm will be willing and able to share their win rate and the benefits received by prior clients. Be sure to ask about the firms’ approval rate and how many cases won were for full benefits and how many were for partial benefits. The law firm of Young, Marr & Associates clearly states on their website that they have an 89.4% success rate versus the industry average of just 62%.
Management of your Case
While you won’t likely be speaking regularly with the attorney representing you, the law firm should provide a contact person who will answer your questions and who will keep you updated on a regular basis. You may want to find out how many cases the case manager handles, what other support staff are employed, how frequently you’ll receive updates, and whether or not the firm will advance you the cost of medical records. There is nothing more frustrating than having little or no knowledge of how your case is proceeding.
Pennsylvania Disability Lawyer Credentials
While your representative doesn’t need to be a licensed attorney to represent you, there are benefits to hiring a licensed attorney. For one thing, a licensed attorney is more likely to have had special training in how to interpret Social Security and disability law. Hire a Pennsylvania Disability Lawyer when you’re denied. And if your case ever gets appealed to the federal level your attorney must be licensed to practice law in federal court. You certainly wouldn’t want to have to change lawyers at that stage. You should learn about your lawyers background be asking questions such as how long they have practiced law, how many cases they’ve tried, and how long they’ve been practicing law in Pennsylvania. The last is very important because a lawyer who has been practicing for a long time in your area will know all of the administrative law judges who could hear your case. They will know which judges may be biased about certain types of cases and can modify their arguments to best appeal to the judge hearing your case.
Experience with your Condition
Certain medical conditions make winning a claim more difficult than others because of the way in which the disability laws are worded. This is even more true if the person claiming disability benefits has a history of alcohol or drug abuse, or if they suffer from some form of mental illness. If any of these apply to you be sure to ask the lawyer if he has experience with your particular condition, and how successful he has been in winning such cases.
Childhood Disability Cases
Cases of childhood disability are far less common than adult disability cases, and some law firms will not accept a child’s case, or if they do they may not have much experience with childhood disability cases. Before you work with a law firm on behalf of a child, be sure that the firm has had experience in childhood disability cases. You should also find out what the approval rate of the attorney is specifically for childhood disability cases.
Testimonials and References
It never hurts to have a second opinion and for that reason you should always ask if the firm is willing to share testimonials or references from past clients. Any good firm will have nothing to hide and should be more than willing to do this.