12121 Wilshire Blvd #1260, Los Angeles, CA 90025

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.

 
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“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