Here’s What You Should Do Now That You’ve Filed Your Social Security Disability Claim

Keep Track of Challenges you Have During the Day

You’ve filed for Social Security Disability (or SSI) because you’re unable to work due to an injury or illness.  Great job!  But now what can you do to set yourself up of the best possible chance of success?  

Here are four things to do for anyone who has filed a social security disability claim.


Keep Going to the Doctor

 

It’s incredibly important that you continue to go to all scheduled medical appointments.  If the Social Security Administration determines that you aren’t going to regularly scheduled appointments, while they’re evaluating your disability claim, they may decide against your claim on the basis that IF you did go to the doctor your impairments would be manageable.  And thus, you would be able to seek, obtain, and maintain employment (or other substantially gainful activity).

Going to appointments can be difficult, depending on your conditions.  If you find it difficult to maintain a schedule of medical appointments you should make sure to note this.  Better, even than keeping personal records on this though, is retaining an advocate and making sure they know how difficult it is for you to attend your medical appointments.   They may be able to secure some accommodations and/or they may be able to communicate your challenges effectively to the Social Security Administration.

 

Maintain Good Records of Any and All Hospital Visits

 

In a perfect world, everyone who needs access (and has permission to access) your medical records, would do so prior to making a decision that impacts you.  However, it’s not a perfect world, and one of the most common goofs on disability claim decisions occurs when the adjudicator makes a decision without all the evidence they should have.   Sometimes, a big piece of the pie is tracking down what SSA knew, and what they should have known.

Of course, this isn’t the only reason to keep records of visits.  It’s good practice to do so even if everyone is on the same page because you never know when someone might lose a record, claim to have never received it, or claim that you didn’t go to that medical appointment in the first place.

Keeping good records can be as easy as making sure everything goes into a specific folder or box.  Just don’t throw them away!

 

Keep Track of Challenges you Have During the Day

 

At some point, someone is going to want to know what kind of impact your impairments have on your everyday life.  You can sit there across from a judge, or in front of a doctor and try to recall ALL the ways in which you’re affected, or you can rely on the notes you’ve taken in preparation for that question.

This means, take notes.  Keep a journal.  Take pictures, if that’s easier.  Keep a video diary.  Just document your challenges in some way.

This one action helps eliminate the ambiguous understanding (on the part of the SSA) that Social Security Disability claims denials often spring forth from.

 

Consider Discussing your Claim with an Excellent & Local Social Security Disability Lawyer

 

It’s never really too early to start a discussion with an excellent local Social Security Disability Lawyer.  There are several reasons you’d want to do this.

#1) An experienced Social Security Disability Lawyer can give you advice from having gone through this process >1000 times.  This is probably your first time through the process.  If you can get any direct advice or even support, it’s worth your time to reach out for it!

#2) If your claim is denied (it happens far too often) – you have a short turn-around to file an appeal.  Being able to bring in a disability attorney that has already heard the merits of your claim, provided input on them, and that you have a pre-existing relationship with – will help to reduce your stress at a very difficult point.

#3) It’s free.

 

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How to Choose a Social Security Lawyer in Spokane

How to Choose a Social Security Lawyer in Spokane

 

If you’re looking for a Social Security Lawyer in Spokane, WA or northern Idaho here’s a checklist of five things to consider.

    • Are they actually located in Spokane?
    • Are they Connected to the Community of Spokane? 
    • Do they Help You to Understand Your Social Security Claim?
    • Are they an Expert 
    • Are they Approachable?

 

Are they actually located in Spokane?

 

These are perfectly legitimate question to ask any lawyer your considering working with.  Where are you located?  Can I visit you if I have questions?  Can we schedule a time to discuss my case?

It may surprise you to discover that some law firms that advertise in the Spokane area are not from Spokane at all.  In fact, they only rent an office space, just to have a local address.  Shocking, but we covered these types of misdirection in another article, here.

 

Are they Connected to the Community of Spokane? 

 

One of the biggest benefits to working with a local Social Security lawyer is that you benefit from the connections they’ve made in their work.  It’s very common that someone seeking the help of a Social Security lawyer has other support needs that are a natural handoff to someone who has a robust local network.  An excellent local law firm will have a list of, or at least referrals to, other excellent firms and resources available at request.

 

Do they Help You to Understand Your Social Security Claim?

 

It’s very important that you consider the commitment a local law firm places in helping you to understand your Social Security claim.  The process of appealing SSI & SSDI denials can be confusing, and it can be frustrating.  A great blog & newsletter might seem small when you’re first looking into representation, but these will be the first places you look when you want to know more about something like a reconsideration denial.

In a not so subtle way, a firm that commits to educating their clients is a firm that will be committed to bringing them along every step of the way.  So…take a look at that blog & newsletter.  See if it helps you understand your situation?  Does the firm demonstrate awareness, understanding and expertise in the way they break down the things you don’t know?

 

Are they an Expert & Are they Approachable?

 

Ok, this is a two-part criteria, but you’re aiming to find someone that is both of these at once.  An expert that is unapproachable is not going to help you understand your claim.  And an approachable novice is a novice nonetheless.

They say there’s no substitute for experience, and it takes time, commitment, and success to gain that experience.

As for approachability, take a look at the videos on the lawyer’s website.  Look at their social media pages, and check out the reviews.  You’ll get a “gut” sense pretty quickly about whether that lawyer is someone you can relate to, trust, and share your story with.

 

How Lilac City Law Stacks Up to this Criteria

Now that you’ve seen our list, take a deeper look at our firm.

 

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How to Choose a Social Security Lawyer

How to Pick a Social Security Lawyer

If you’re in the process of applying for Social Security Disability, or if you’ve already applied and are looking to get a bit more help for an appeal – then the following criteria can help you select the best Social Security lawyer for your case.  

Work With Someone That Makes You Comfortable

A Fear Factor Can Play a Big Role in Your Relationship with Your Attorney

The first and maybe most important factor in picking a Social Security Lawyer is overcoming the initial fear factor of reaching out for help.

Let’s be honest, most of the time the first person called is the attorney with the commercial on TV or that website that shows up on the top of Google.  However, as we’ve learned in our firm, a lot of clients gravitate towards representatives that can understand them.  For instance, if you’re seeking to claim PTSD and already apprehensive about reaching out for help, getting someone on the other end of the phone that has an imposing persona very easily could lead to trouble at many points during the claims process.

A Social Security claim or appeal can be complex, it’s very important that you have confidence in your lawyer, but also that you have the impression that you can communicate with them or their office without worrying about how they might view, judge, or aggravate your impairments.

Be careful to choose a lawyer that doesn’t intimidate you in any way.  You’re going through a tough enough process, keep the barriers to your relationship low and the trust factor high.

Trust w/ Your Social Security Lawyer

Your Lawyer-Client Relationship is Built on Trust

The things that generate trust vary widely from one person to the next.  However, there are some basic principals that everyone can rely upon when determining if a given Social Security Lawyer is trustworthy.

Ratings & Reviews

Avvo is a great tool for getting straight-forward ratings and reviews of attorneys.  They have a proprietary ratings system and review system that they claim can’t be gamed.  This is very important, and as you can imagine, review and rating stuffing is common and sadly something that erodes confidence in any rating system.  

In addition to Avvo, Google provides a great system for getting reviews of all sorts of lawyers, including disability lawyers.  If you do a search for disability lawyers near you, or for a specific disability lawyer, you will likely see their Google ratings & reviews pop-up next to their listing.  This is a bit more crowd-sourced than Avvo but is a very valuable tool for both selecting a great disability lawyer, and for reviewing them after you’ve worked with them.  Here is an example of ratings and reviews using Google.

Videos

The internet has been around for a while at this point.  As have digital cameras.  The old saying “a picture is worth a thousand words” is just as true today as when it was coined.  In fact, it might even be truer today than ever.  Consider how a picture helps to establish rapport and trust.

You want a disability lawyer that shows you they know what they’re doing.   They are respectable and respected.  And they will be the best champion for your fight, right?  That’s why every attorney, doctor, consultant, author, etc. has a professional picture of themselves somewhere on their website.  But one of the biggest problems is that pictures can (and are) staged.  However, an authentic video is much harder to fake.

Check out the prospective disability attorney’s Facebook and YouTube channels.  First off, do they even have social media at all?  And on those channels, see if they have videos sharing insights, talking to clients, answering questions.  Sometimes these videos will also be on the lawyer’s website or blog as well.

Watching how the lawyer answers questions will give you a lot more than a picture – at least in helping you to build an idea of who they are and how they communicate.

Ask yourself, “is this someone that can communicate my challenges, is this someone I can communicate my challenges to?”

A short video will usually give you an enormous amount of insight into answering those questions.

Blogs

When seeking insight into a disability lawyer’s persona don’t forget to look at the extras on their website.  Blogs, especially, will tell you how committed they are to sharing information with you.

Is their website a bunch of short questions with hooks at the end of each one?  If so, how does that help you, as a potential client, to understand the processes involved in your claim?  Alternatively, do they have a wealth of information about all aspects of your claim, and questions you hadn’t even thought to ask yet in their blog or newsletter?  Six months from now when you’re wondering what your chances are of succeeding, this might be exactly what you need to keep your spirits high.

A blog may not be what you initially thought of when thinking, “how do I pick a Social Security lawyer,” but now that you’re in the search, take a look around and see who’s keeping their clients and future clients informed and who’s just fishing for the next client.

Capacity

You Should Feel Like You’re the Only Client

Would you rather be a big fish in a small pond or a small fish in a big pond?  Think about this for a moment.. this is something that can help you to identify what type of disability lawyer or disability law firm to work with.

One might argue that a huge firm with many thousands of cases is big because they are good.  They certainly have the advertising budget to portray that success. However, the continued existence of many hundreds, or even thousands, of community disability lawyers fly in the face of that sentiment.  At the end of the day, you can deal with one bureaucracy (huge firm) to fight another one (SSA), or you can work with a personalized firm who remembers your name when you call.

It comes back to that question, big fish or small fish?  The small fish sometimes has a hard time being heard.

Responsiveness

Communication is Key!

In response to the big fish/small fish question, you do, at some, point want to consider how responsive your disability lawyer will be to your unique needs.  Hint, they have to recognize that you indeed do have unique needs in the first place.

Like a Dr. Office, it’s probably not reasonable that the attorney can stop immediately talking to one patient (client) to take a call from another.  That’s why staff and client liaisons exist.  However, it is reasonable and should be necessary, to have an attorney that is available to talk, within a reasonable amount of time.

Can you call the firm and get a response from the attorney in a reasonable amount of time?  Can you schedule a time to actually come into the firm and talk to the lawyer that’s representing you?  Not everyone can…

Being able to communicate, even briefly, is something you’re going to want to do as a disability hearing approaches.

Helpfulness

The Strength of Our Network is the Strength of Our Work

During the course of your claim (or appeal), there will be curveballs thrown your way.  Whether those curveballs originate from within the claim itself or they happen to come from directions yet unseen, you want someone on your side that “knows someone.”

One of the best things about working with an experienced and established disability lawyer is that you’re also working with their network.  A good lawyer doesn’t gain experience by being an island unto themselves.  They often work with partners in similar fiends to increase the effectiveness of their own services.

To you, the client or future client, this means – that when that curveball arrives you can ask for referrals, assistance, resource information, and things like this.  Or rather, you should be able to.  Unfortunately, this also relies on the idea that your disability lawyer is local, which as we know from previous discussions, is just not always the case.

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Social Security Myth #4


“DISABILITY CLAIMS ARE SOARING!”


If you were to turn on the nightly news you might come away with the impression that disability claims have soared in recent years.  Perhaps everyone is onto the secret?   Social Security Disability is a way to get compensation from the Federal Government for being unable to work because of an injury or illness.. Or is it?

The Role of Social Security Disability

Social Security Disability is a benefit paid into by most workers. If something happens that stops these workers from being able to work, they can apply to receive compensation.  An excellent way to look at this benefit is to consider it similar to an insurance policy on someone’s ability to work.  But, as some news outlets have noted, is it something else as well?  Are disability claims a path to easy street?

We’ve already covered the history of fraud, waste, abuse, and drugs in Social Security Disability, and how we got to ‘today.’ In fact, a common theme in our series on busting Social Security Disability myths has been demonstrating how the facts don’t seem to match up with the prevailing opinions on this topic.

The Typical Spin

The Washington Post opines, Welfare is the New Work,” and expands on this assertion by stating, “disability rolls are growing even as worker safety has hit an all-time high.”  The Richmond Federal Reserve Bank decries federal disability benefits becoming the new “general safety net.”  What is the truth behind these seemingly authoritative opinions?   And what are some reasons to question the conclusions of these authors?

One of the best responses to these opinions has come from the opinion pages of the New York Times.  Three entire paragraphs at the end of the previously linked article break down in detail why “Disability claims are not skyrocketing.”  We will summarize below.

If you look at the disability claims and awards over a historical timeline you can see why someone might claim a skyrocketing increase in claims.  It’s certainly something that requires a nuanced and objective look though.

A Closer Look at the Data

Since 2000, claims have doubled, however, something interesting has happened..award rates have stayed essentially the same among the entirety of workers, about 5%.  If claims are skyrocketing and award rates are staying the same, is there a problem of fraud, waste, or abuse?  Logic would say in this case, that if there were it wouldn’t be on the part of the claimants.  It is Social Security that has deviated sharply down from their historical awards rate in recent years.


Another point that is important to understand in this discussion is that while the number of claims and claims awarded may have gone up in the last 10-15 years, so too has the pool of workers from which claims can be drawn.

Bringing the Spin & the Data Together

So why has the rate of total claims increased in recent years?  Several factors likely play into this.  The first being a poor economy from 2009-2015 or so.  During the Great Recession, the total labor force far out numbered available jobs.  Everyone had a hard time finding employment, especially those on the cusp of possibly rating a disability benefit.  The reality of being terminally un-employed likely brought a number of claimants to the disability application process that would potentially have continued being the working disabled in a more traditional economy.

Other, demographic, factors also influenced the spike in applications.  The average age of the workforce was/is moving higher as baby-boomers hit retirement age.  The number of workers 55-65 years remained unusually high during the great recession as many near retirement workers chose to continue working.  Workers in this age range are at a higher risk of needing to file for disability at some point because of a confluence of age and a  lifetime of work.

Another demographic shift can be found in the rising rate of women seeking disabilities.

Women have taken more work as a whole, and also more physically demanding work over the last four decades.  In reference to this trend, since1985 the age-adjusted disability rate for women has increased at a much faster clip than age-adjusted disability rate for men.

Looking at the Assumptions Again

So, is it fair to say, “Disability Claims are Soaring!” 

Well, the disability claims rate is up, sure.  But when adjusted for age and demographics, they are only slightly up, and certainly not “soaring.”  Moreover, as we’ve shown many times in this blog, the actual award rates, despite the number of claims, has remained flat, and in respect to the number of claims – it has dropped drastically.

This last point is probably the more surprising story that places like the Washington Post missed.  The headline should read:

“The Award Rate for Disability is Plummeting!”

But that story doesn’t sell…

Lilac City Law advocates on behalf of the disabled in their claims for Social Security Disability and SSI

We provide a Free 30-minute Consultation 

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