According to the CDC, one in four Americans has a disability. That’s around 25% of the U.S. population. At any given time, these individuals may find themselves in a legal battle that has to do with their disabilities. In such cases, they need to lawyer up. But how can they do so?
In this article, we’ll take you through the things you must look into when trying to find a social security disability attorney in Los Angeles.
Make Sure the Attorney Does Disability Work
When looking for a social security disability attorney in Los Angeles, you must first work out which attorneys have experience with disability claims. The best way to find out if a lawyer has experience is to ask them how long they have been practicing law and what their specialty is.
A good attorney will be able to tell you how many disability cases they have handled in the past and the percentage of those cases that resulted in approval for benefits. The more experience an attorney has with disability claims, the better chance you have of receiving approval at your hearing.
If you are applying for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), make sure that your attorney can represent your claim before an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ).
Most states have ALJs who hear all initial SSDI applications from residents within that state. Your lawyer must know which ones are designated as “designated state agencies” or “DSAs.” Some states also have appeals courts where appeals from decisions made by ALJs could be heard if necessary, so make sure your legal representative knows about these too.
If applicable, ask about whether or not your potential legal rep understands the laws specific to Los Angeles. The laws might vary significantly from state to state.
For instance, as per the California State Disability Insurance (SDI) program, the disability period for a pregnant individual is recognized four weeks before the child is to be born. On the other hand, in Georgia, only certain conditions (like medical complications) during pregnancy are recognized as disabilities.
Such differences in the laws can lead to confusion. It becomes easier to navigate these things with a local lawyer who’s aware of their state laws and what separates them from other state laws.
Verify the Lawyer Is in Good Standing
You can do this by checking the Los Angeles bar association website for any complaints and disciplinary actions taken against them. If you’re still worried about hiring a lawyer who has been disciplined, check with your state’s court system to see if there are any pending cases against them.
If all else fails, contact your local bar association or legal aid society and ask if they have heard any negative reports on that particular disability attorney. Their help may be invaluable when it comes time to choose a social security disability attorney.
Check for Disciplinary Actions and Sanctions
As a general rule, if an attorney has been disciplined by the Los Angeles bar or sanctioned by any court in any jurisdiction, you should hire someone else. It’s not just about ethics. A lawyer with a record of misconduct simply won’t be able to represent you as well.
See If You Can Afford the Attorney’s Fees
You will want to know what your attorney’s fee is before you hire them. How much they charge for their services depends on the nature of your case. Some attorneys bill by the hour, while others charge a flat rate for certain actions, such as filing a claim and preparing an appeal brief.
The hourly rate can vary widely. Make sure that you are familiar with how your lawyer bills. According to ContractsCounsel, hourly rates across all states, including Los Angeles, are between $250 and $350. If you cannot afford to front the cost of hiring an attorney just yet, ask whether they offer any payment plans that may come with interest.
High rates allow lawyers to earn some of the largest salaries in the U.S. According to Glassdoor, the national average salary for lawyers in the U.S. is $1,24,110 per year. The average does vary a little, but not by much.
Experience with Similar Claims
Try to find an attorney who has experience with your specific disability, the kind of work you do, and the type of company you work for. The more experience they have working with people like you, the better they will be able to advocate for your claim.
For example, say someone is applying for social security disability benefits due to depression or anxiety. Then, their lawyer must have knowledge about these mental health conditions and how they affect a person’s ability to perform their job duties.
Knows About Recent Changes in the Law
While laws change frequently, the changes are usually small and incremental. If you have been denied benefits in the past, you should consult a social security disability attorney who is up-to-date on all changes to the law.
Some attorneys are more knowledgeable about certain types of disabilities than others. This is why you need to do your research before contacting an attorney. State laws tend to change as well from time to time. Therefore, ensure that your attorney is aware of the latest disability laws in Los Angeles.
If you’re looking for a social security disability attorney, these tips are a good place to start. The more research you do now, the better your chances of finding a good lawyer and getting approved in the future.