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Why is It Better to Have a Lawyer for a Disability Claim?

Derek Devermont Social Security Disability Attorney

Why is It Better to Have a Lawyer for a Disability Claim?

Attorneys in the Social Security disability work on a “contingency basis.

Contingency means the attorney will only get paid if the claimant is successful in being granted disability benefits. If the case is lost, the claimant will not have to pay a dime to the attorney.
There is nothing to lose by hiring an attorney to handle a claim for Social Security Disability benefits or SSI benefits, but everything to gain. An attorney knows law and courts. Often the knowledge is the difference between winning and losing.

It is common knowledge that people who are facing criminal charges or a civil lawsuit should retain a lawyer.

 

The reasoning is obvious. Criminal defense and lawsuits involve complex questions of law and procedures unknown to those who do not have legal training. The average person would find it foolish to try and navigate these two legal fields without counsel. Social Security Disability and SSI laws are similar but different in that the area is even more complicated than Criminal Defense and most forms of civil litigation.

Most areas of law have only two sources of authority.

 

For instance, the field of criminal defense has the Penal Code and Case law. Case law is the guidance that comes in the form of written decisions from appellate courts. Law from Social Security Disability, however, comes from many sources. Attorneys, who handle Social Security Disability cases, must know the Code of Federal Regulations, Case Law, Social Security Rulings, Social Security Acquiescence Rulings, HALLEX, and the POMS. Often the law in one of these sources will contradict the law in another. Only an attorney who specializes in the field of disability would know which authority is binding on the court according to each set of facts. 

Perhaps the most significant advantage that comes with hiring an attorney is knowledge of the judges and courts.
Each courthouse is different and is managed by a chief judge. Each chief judge has different priorities and concerns. Some chief judges are most concerned with moving cases along quickly. Others are concerned with having even the smallest procedures done by the book without a single deviation for efficiency or expediency. Some are very controlling with the judge’s they supervise, and others take a more indirect approach. All of these judicial philosophies have their advantages and disadvantages. Only an attorney who has experience with the court can know the type of court to which the case is assigned. More importantly, only an attorney will know how to use the policies of each court to a claimant’s advantage.

Just as every courthouse has a chief judge who has a distinct personality, so does every judge who sits on the bench. Judges are people and have their own set of quirks, insecurities, values, admirable traits, and sensitivities. Knowledge of the judges is an absolute requirement for an attorney who practices Social Security Disability.

For example:
Claimant “A” suffers from bipolar disorder and a back condition. Claimant “A” feels her disability status is as a result of her mental health. Her case will be decided by Judge “B.” Judge “B” doesn’t like granting disability claims based on a mental disability. He has very little if any sympathy for the mentally ill and believes most are drug users. Judge “B” also suffers from back pain and is therefore very sensitive to claims of disability based on herniated discs or spinal fractures. Claimant “A” will lose her case if she walks into the courtroom and focuses on her mental disability. If Clamant “A” has an attorney who is familiar with Judge “B,” she will probably win. The attorney will choose to focus the case on the back condition, knowing Judge “B” is sensitive to back issues and insensitive to mental health issues. Having an attorney can be the difference between winning and losing a claim for disability benefits.
Knowledge of the judge is just one area of expertise an attorney will possess. Another one is knowledge of the witnesses.
In almost every case, the court will appoint experts to testify. Traditionally, there are two types of experts in disability cases: Medical and vocational. Medical experts look at the medical records and give their opinion as to the severity of the claimant’s conditions. An attorney’s knowledge of each medical expert’s habits and beliefs is essential to pursuing a successful claim for Social Security Disability Benefits. Let us go back to claimant “A.”

Once again, Claimant “A” suffers from Bipolar disorder and a herniated disc in her back. Judge “C” is handling the case. Judge “C” has asked a psychologist named “Dr. MD” to look at the medical records and testify. Dr. MD testifies the bipolar disorder is severe, but no so severe it’s disabling. In his opinion, claimant “A” would still be able to work in jobs that require no more than simple repetitive tasks. If the judge accepts this testimony as accurate, “A” will lose her case for disability benefits. “Disability Lawyer” to the rescue. Disability Lawyer has had many cases with Dr. MD and knows him well. He knows Dr. MD doesn’t read or take into account physical conditions in his testimony. They have the following exchange:

DL: Dr. MD, can physical pain aggravate symptomology associated with my client’s mental state.
Dr. MD: Absolutely.
DL: I want you to assume my client also suffers from a back condition that would put her in pain for most of the day. Adding that to the bipolar disorder, does that change your opinion as to her restrictions.
Dr.MD: Yes, Counsel. If she were in physical pain, I believe her mental condition would be exacerbated, and she would be disabled.
Claimant “A” is now going to win her case. Not because of her bipolar disorder by itself and not because of her back condition standing alone. She will win because her lawyer knew the expert and his specific practices and beliefs. Once again, having an attorney is the difference between winning and losing.

The key is to have the right lawyer.

 
Need help? Get in touch for a free consultation.
“Devermont & Devermont is a wonderful Law Office… Derek Devermont and his staff went above and beyond to get me my disability benefits… The wait is worth it but not too long… But being patient and understanding is the key… They really care about what they do.. I love Devermont & Devermont Law Firm!!”

-Anja Irwin

“From the get go Derek set my mind at ease and made me feel like family. His determination cleared my good name and for that I will forever be indebted for. His staff was also friendly punctual anytime I needed anything.
I would highly recommend this firm.”

-David Rutola

“I didn’t know where to go for a help when my family and I needed it most.
Thank GOD I finally found Devermont and Devermont. Under six months of working with them, we now receive the monthly benefits we were likely never going to see without the help of Mr. Devermont. Can’t thank them enough.”

-Dani Song

Best Social Security Disability Advocates

Disability Lawyers Near Me

Best Social Security Disability Advocates

It can be a daunting task to choose the right Social Security Disability/SSI lawyer.

There are endless options to choose from, and all will say they are the best. Below are the criteria for selecting a Social Security Disability advocate.

1) HIRE AN ATTORNEY

A good portion of the Social Security Disability field is composed of “administrative law,” Administrative law is not practiced in traditional courts. Instead, the cases are heard in courts specially created by the Social Security Administration. Being licensed as an attorney is not a requirement to represent claimants seeking Social Security Disability in administrative courts. Hiring an attorney is the best option for representation. Attorneys have the training, expertise, and respect from the judges to effectively pursue a claim for disability benefits.

2) MAKE SURE THE ATTORNEY IS EXPERIENCED IN THE FIELD OF SOCIAL SECURITY DISABILITY 

 
Generally speaking, the more experienced the attorney, the better it is for your case. Experienced attorneys not only know the law, but they also know how to apply it. It’s more than understanding what’s written in textbooks. It’s understanding which arguments are best in front of which judges. Some judges respond positively to arguments surrounding mental illness, while other judges aren’t as persuaded by this line of analysis. Other judges are sensitive to cases involving seizures. An experienced attorney will know what arguments work and what is just wasting time.
3) GET A LOCAL ATTORNEY
Make sure the attorney you hire knows every judge in the court where your case is set to be heard. Hiring a local lawyer can ensure the attorney knows the court inside and out. The Law Offices of Devermont and Devermont represents people from San Diego to Sana Barbara and knows each judge in all the courts in these cities. The firm doesn’t represent people in Massachusetts. That would be too far for Devermont and Devermont’s attorneys to capitalize on relationships with the courts. Local is always better.
4) MAKE SURE YOUR ATTORNEY CARES
If your attorney doesn’t care, how can he or she convince a judge to care? How can your attorney ask a judge to do what he won’t do himself? An attorney who cares will fight and work harder to win your case. It can’t be about money for the attorney. He or she has to believe in the service they are providing.
 
Need help? Get in touch for a free consultation.
“Devermont & Devermont is a wonderful Law Office… Derek Devermont and his staff went above and beyond to get me my disability benefits… The wait is worth it but not too long… But being patient and understanding is the key… They really care about what they do.. I love Devermont & Devermont Law Firm!!”

-Anja Irwin

“From the get go Derek set my mind at ease and made me feel like family. His determination cleared my good name and for that I will forever be indebted for. His staff was also friendly punctual anytime I needed anything.
I would highly recommend this firm.”

-David Rutola

“I didn’t know where to go for a help when my family and I needed it most.
Thank GOD I finally found Devermont and Devermont. Under six months of working with them, we now receive the monthly benefits we were likely never going to see without the help of Mr. Devermont. Can’t thank them enough.”

-Dani Song

Disability Advocate Near Me

Disability Advocate Near Me

Attorneys who regularly practice in local courts are far more likely to be successful in disability cases than lawyers who travel the country. Judges who decide disability cases are going to be more receptive to arguments from attorneys they know and trust than from outsiders.

A judge will respond better to an attorney he knows than one he hasn’t met or doesn’t frequently see, for a variety of reasons. These reasons make it imperative to hire an attorney who works near your residence.

Mostly it comes down to trust. Trust is accumulated over time and experience. When an attorney has spoken truthfully to a judge consistently, that attorney’s word is going to carry value. Judge’s remember they attorneys they deal with for both the good and bad. Conversely, a judge may view a lawyer new to the courtroom with suspicion. The new lawyer hasn’t built up the track record of trust to be taken with the necessary credibility to win a claimant’s case.

Likability also matters. Judges are human and subject to the same tendencies as all people. When a judge likes an attorney, that attorney is going to be received with an open mind and generosity. In a close case, a Judge’s positive feelings towards an attorney may sway the decision from unfavorable to favorable. An attorney from out of town won’t have the same luxury. An attorney from out of town won’t have cried the same tears and laughed the same laughter over years of experience as the local attorney has with the judges. Such experience is invaluable.

Judges are also likely to be more frank and honest about the case with an attorney he or she knows well. This insight will allow the attorney to tailor arguments towards the judge’s concerns. If the judge doesn’t know the attorney, this insight will not be readily available. Insight into how the judge feels about each case can easily be the difference between winning and losing. The insight can be the difference between a claimant walking out of court with a fully favorable decision as opposed to an unfavorable one.

A relationship with local judges may be the most critical asset an attorney has in fighting for a client’s disability benefits. Sometimes it’s more valuable than any one piece of evidence or any part of testimony from a particular client.