When filing for disability benefits, claimants must make the important decision of whether to consult an attorney. Disability attorneys offer a variety of crucial resources that may increase your chances of winning your benefits.
A law firm may have experience litigating these types of claims, knowledge of expectations at each stage of a claim, and an inherent understanding of the expectations of claimants. All of this can greatly benefit someone who is applying for benefits for the first time and doesn’t have a working legal knowledge of how claims are handled and decided.
Here are a few of the main benefits of retaining legal representation for a benefits claim.
A qualified attorney will:
- Advocate for you at each stage of your claim.
- Help you navigate the application process and gather medical evidence to prove your claim.
- Guide you with realistic expectations and the best possible strategy.
- Assist you before and during appeals hearings.
- Help you litigate workers’ comp settlements.
One of the most common reasons claimants hesitate to consult an attorney is cost.
This is certainly a legitimate consideration for any family, especially when disabilities prevent you from working. However, retaining a disability attorney does not necessarily mean breaking the bank.
For example, Social Security claimants often will not pay an up-front attorney’s fee. Instead, you will only pay a fixed percentage of your initial back payments should you win your claim. This amount is federally regulated. If you don’t win, you don’t pay a fee.
Most attorneys—including Affleck & Gordon—also offer a free initial consultation.
These consultations can be a great way to determine which attorney best matches your needs. However, knowing what to look for in the first place can save you crucial time and energy and give you the best possible representation.
Homegrown: The Advantage of Consulting Local Attorneys in Atlanta
National firms have a large outreach; you’ve likely seen an advertisement for one of these firms at some point. As opposed to local attorneys, they may handle thousands of claims each month across the nation.
Certainly, many nationwide disability firms are experienced in handling claims like yours—but it’s important to keep in mind the distinct advantages a local attorney can provide.
First, it may be tempting to believe a national law group will be able to deliver higher benefits in less time due to their handling of so many cases across the United States.
The reality is that most cases take time. There’s no silver bullet or one-size-fits-all strategy.
A local attorney will have certain insight into how Atlanta disability cases are handled, whereas a national firm may not.
- are familiar with Atlanta and other Social Security field offices in Georgia.
- are also familiar with local VA offices.
- have experience with the Georgia State Board of Workers’ Compensation.
- have working relationships with Administrative Law Judges and other court personnel who may be reviewing an appeal to your claim.
- have sometimes acquired years of knowledge of disability in Georgia and how the state handles these cases.
Hiring a Smaller Firm
Small disability law firms, such as you may see at the local level in Atlanta, offer a more personalized experience to their clients.
Smaller firms put their all into each case. These firms typically handle fewer cases at a time, so they are able to focus more of their resources on each client. This translates to a more personalized strategy for your disability case and a more hands-on approach.
Each client will get more one-on-one time. You’ll be spending more time with your lawyer, rather than being treated as a number. Small firms rely heavily on their client relationships and value good communication, so you never feel ignored.
A smaller firm values you. You’ll get to know your lawyer much more intimately with a small firm. This means you’ll be able to make more accurate judgements about your level of trust in their abilities—as well as see the value they place in you every time you walk in their offices or pick up the phone.
Other Considerations: Specialization and Experience
A major consideration when hiring a disability attorney is that they can back up their promises with a track record to prove their abilities.
When interviewing potential representation, the right attorney will be able to illustrate their experience with your particular type of disability claim and condition. Some attorneys may have specialized in Social Security or VA disability benefits for a certain number of years, for instance.
Having a specialization with your type of claim means a lawyer has honed their skills in this area of law. They may have gained a familiarity with cases like yours, whereas those who don’t specialize won’t carry this same level of experience.
Lawyers with experience and skills dedicated to one type of disability claim won’t have their attention divided between vastly different manner of cases with different approaches and expectations. They deal with cases like yours every day.
They can demonstrate that they’ve won cases like yours in the past and can offer you realistic expectations—without false promises or quick fixes.
While no one can predict the outcome of your claim, an experienced, dedicated attorney can guide you through each stage of the process, educate you about how your claim is handled, and manage your expectations.
Knowing what to look for in an attorney ensures you’ll have a personal advocate from the moment you file for benefits to the moment your case is decided.
If your disability claim has been denied, or you’re thinking about filing and don’t know where to start, Affleck & Gordon can help. We’ve been helping people in Georgia just like you for over 45 years. Sign up for a free case evaluation here, or call us (404) 990-3945.