If you are applying for Social Security Disability benefits, you want to be represented by an attorney or an advocate who you feel comfortable with representing you.
You should understand that the disability process can be quite lengthy and from the initial filing of benefits to the hearing before an administrative law judge can take up to two years, sometimes less or sometimes longer depending on the state and the situation.
While there are disability attorneys and advocates located in every state, you may want to go with someone who is based in another state because of their reputation or expertise.
Yes, You Can Use an Attorney from Another State
Because Social Security disability benefits are part of a federally run program, you can hire an attorney from out-of-state. You can choose an advocate or attorney from any state in the U.S. to represent you. Just remember that is you work with an attorney out of state, you most likely won’t meet your attorney face-to-face until the day of your hearing before the administrative law judge.
Just because you choose an attorney or advocate from out-of-state doesn’t mean you won’t get the same quality representation, because you definitely can. You just need to make sure you are comfortable with this kind of setting and understand that if your case doesn’t have to proceed all the way to the hearing level you may never meet your advocate or attorney face-to-face.
Questions to Ask When Choosing an Attorney or Advocate
You don’t want to just choose the first disability advocate or attorney that you encounter. Because the disability claims process is complicated, you want to choose an attorney that you believe will do his or her best representing you and working to get you approved for benefits. Here are some questions that you need to pursue and get answered before making your decision in regards to representation:
- Have you undergone specialized training in disability law? If you are interviewing an attorney you want to make sure they have undergone specific training for disability law, which is a specialized field.
- How much do you charge? Disability advocates or attorneys usually charge no money up front, and get 25% of their clients’ back benefits. The fee could change if your case gets denied at the administrative law hearing level and then proceeds to the Appeals Council. Make sure you get a detailed explanation of the fee structure for the Appeals Council and federal court levels as well.
- What are the expenses related to the case that I need to reimburse? Most advocates and attorneys expect you to reimburse them for the costs pertaining to representing you, which includes the costs of copies of medical records, postage, medical source statements, and sometimes travel expenses. You need to understand what expenses are included as well as the average cost for the client. Also, ask if you will be charged for those things even if your case is not won.
- Will we meet before the hearing? If your case advances all the way to the hearing level, you should ask if you will meet the advocate or attorney before the actual hearing. Many people want to meet with the advocate or attorney face-to-face rather than just talking over the phone before they appear before the administrative law judge for a ruling.
If you're ready to speak with a disability advocate or attorney, you should do so as soon as possible to get your claim started. The sooner you reach out for help, the sooner your claim could be approved.