How Trenton Legal Advice Can Help With Social Security Disability Claims
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A person who has filed a claim for Social Security Disability Benefits, i.e., the claimant, has certain rights while pursuing said claim. Chief among them is the right to be represented by an attorney or other qualified representative.
An attorney will be able to act on your behalf before the Social Security Administration and help ease the process of obtaining benefits. Among other things, an attorney can obtain information from your Social Security file; obtain medical benefits from your various treating doctors to help support your claim; prepare witnesses (yourself or other witnesses) to testify at a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge; cross-examine witnesses called by the Social Security Administration to testify at your hearing; and file appeals on your behalf.
The main benefit to hiring an experienced Social Security Disability attorney, though, is just that: their familiarity and experience with the applicable laws and the process. Your attorney may notice facts about your case that can lead to an earlier resolution than normally possible by submitting written arguments to the Administration for consideration prior to your case reaching the hearing stage. Additionally, it is beneficial that your attorney be familiar with the local judges and the manner in which they conduct their hearings.
In order to charge a fee for his or her services, your attorney must file several forms with the Administration. First, an Appointment of Representative form must be filed. This form, which can be viewed on the Social Security Administration’s website, must be signed by you in order to be effective.
Like other types of legal matters, Social Security Disability claims can be handled on a “contingent” basis; meaning that the recovery of a fee by the attorney is “contingent” upon successfully obtaining benefits for the claimant. In order to handle a claim on a contingent basis, you and your attorney must submit a “Fee Agreement.” The fee agreement must contain specific information regarding the attorney’s fee. An attorney cannot charge more than 25% of the past due benefits and the maximum fee that can be charged is $6,000.00. Both of these figures are regulated by the Social Security Administration. Hiring an attorney in this manner is essentially risk-free as there are no upfront out-of-pocket costs to the claimant. Please note that in the event no past due benefits are recovered, the attorney receives no fee. They may, however, charge you for out-of-pocket costs, such as the cost of obtaining medical or other records on your behalf.
If a Fee Agreement is not used, your attorney must submit a Fee Petition after completing work on your file. This Petition must include a detailed description of the time spent performing each service on your claim and provide you with a copy. Your attorney cannot charge any more than is set forth in the Fee Agreement or is approved in the Fee Petition.