Choosing An Attorney
At The Law Offices of Jeffrey S. Glassman, our disability lawyers throughout Massachusetts know inside and out the law pertaining to Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI). Unequivocal statistics prove claims have a much better chance of success when an experienced attorney is on board.
When you need help filing or appealing a disability claim, it can be difficult to know which lawyer to hire. Beyond the slick websites and other marketing campaigns, it’s important to ascertain whether an attorney is in fact the best-suited to handle your particular case.
There is also an option of seeking advice from Social Security Administration (SSA) non-attorney advocate. Although these advocates can be helpful, they aren’t always the best option, especially the
Although some people do file their initial claims on their own, it can be beneficial to have an attorney to help gather evidence and ensure the claim is properly filed. In choosing a law firm to represent you, there are some important things to keep in mind.Disability Lawyer vs. Non-Attorney Advocate
Although both disability lawyers and non-attorney advocates are hired to help you navigate your SSDI and SSI claims, the primary difference is training and education.
Non-Attorney Advocate: These are individuals work for the SSA, are paid by the SSA and must meet certain SSA standards. Among those requirements:
- Bachelor’s degree or equivalent work experience
- Passage of an SSA written test
- Professional liability insurance
- Criminal background check
- Ongoing education classes
Attorney: This is someone who is educated with:
- A four-year bachelor’s degree
- A juris doctorate (J.D.) degree, usually a three-year legal studies program
- Admission to state bar
Per their strict ethical obligations and rules of professional conduct, lawyers must be zealous in their client representations. Non-attorneys aren’t so required, though that doesn’t necessarily mean they won’t act ethically or work hard on your case. Lawyers also have to keep your statements to them in strict confidence. Advocates aren’t bound by that rule.
Attorneys usually have years of training that is specialized in a particular area of law. They are usually more effective in identifying legal red flags and in formulating a powerful argument in your favor based on sound legal theories.
If your case does make it to the federal appeals level, the SSA advocate isn’t going to be able to represent you there. That would mean a lawyer would have to step into the case at the eleventh hour. A good attorney can do this and do it well, but it’s preferable to have someone who is closely familiar with all the details and specific legal challenges.
Finally, if an attorney fails to act in a client’s best interest, the client has redress through a state-level grievance process. That kind of recourse isn’t available if your non-attorney advocate fails in the same regard.
If you have decided you would rather an attorney represent you, as opposed to a non-attorney advocate, make sure to ask whether the person you are hiring is in fact a lawyer. In some cases, advocates can carry titles that are a bit confusing. These might include:
- Disability advocate
- Claimant representative
- Legal representative
Those kinds of terms sound official, but that doesn’t mean the person holding one is officially a lawyer.General Practice Attorneys
Attorneys in a way are like high school teachers in that they all mostly carry the same titles, but they can have vastly different levels of experience and skill. Although a history teacher could technically teach a math class, he or she might not necessarily be as effective as someone who knows that material and has been doing it for years.
Non-attorney advocates do focus exclusively on SSDI and SSI cases, but they lack the legal background of an attorney.
If you do plan to hire a lawyer, you need to make sure he or she has extensive experience in SSDI and SSI cases. Sometimes, mid-size and larger law firms branch out into many different areas of practice, but have a group of attorneys dedicated to each area of law. This helps to ensure the attorney has the resources to handle the case on a contingency fee basis, but still maintains the kind of specialized experience needed to deftly navigate the bureaucratic claims process.
Contact the Boston SSDI Attorneys at The Law Offices of Jeffrey S. Glassman by calling 1-(617) 367-2900 for a free consultation.