Many disability claimants who are denied at the initial decision level get confused about where to turn for appeal help. While there are multiple options out there, it can be hard to decide who to hire for help. While it is possible for a claimant to handle the process alone from start to finish, having an experienced attorney rep to assist every step of the way can be immensely valuable to those unfamiliar with this complicated and sometimes frustrating process. With that said, does it really matter who a claimant hires to represent him/her? Well, yes it does.
There are many different options for representation out there. Of course, there are large nationwide law firms who advertise on TV and radio from coast to coast. There are also independent attorneys that handle multiple types of cases, with social security disability cases being only part of their caseload. Many of these attorneys will have some experience with disability cases, and some will have very little.
The large national firms typically have a complete system in place, from top to bottom, that can handle many claims from all across the country from start to finish. Many times, these firms will employ a number of case managers at a central location that take phone calls, make notes, and deal with claimants’ questions and concerns throughout the process. These nationwide firms typically hand the case off to contract attorneys at different locations throughout the country. Some large firms send their own attorneys across the country to handle hearings within different large regions. These contract attorneys are assigned cases and review them prior to the hearing, then meet the claimant on location at the hearing office and conduct the hearing. While efficient, some claimants prefer personalized customer service to the mechanical operation of these large national firms.
Smaller, specialized firms typically handle only social security disability cases within a particular region. Using a smaller, localized law firm can have advantages over the larger national firms. Typically, these smaller firms cover cases in areas where they have an established relationship with the local hearing offices and where the attorneys are familiar with each administrative law judge at every location. Working with a smaller firm can also allow easier access to the attorney who is handling the claimant’s case. Some claimants prefer the ability to speak directly with an lawyer who handles their claim from start to finish, through the hearing and possibly beyond. A smaller, more personalized experience can allow claimants to explain important issues directly to their attorney rep, without calling into a call center or filtering their questions through case managers. Developing a rapport and relationship with the attorney rep directly can be beneficial to a process than can go on for a year or longer.
Whether a claimant decides to go with a large national social security disability firm, or with a smaller more regional attorney rep – good results can be accomplished and a higher win percentage can be achieved with an experienced attorney rep. Keep in mind that while any attorney can handle a social security disability claim, and even non-attorneys who are specialized in assisting in the social security disability process can assist, this particular area of law is fairly unique and uncommon to most attorneys who handle different types of cases, such as criminal or civil litigation. Looking for an experienced attorney rep who focuses solely on disability claims can make all the difference in winning or losing on appeal or at an in-person hearing.