When attorneys meet clients for social security disability cases, they usually have a lot of questions. First question usually is, how long does the social security disability process take?
It is important for the social security disability attorney to explain each stage separately and that on average, a client will likely end up at hearing before being approved, if they are ever approved. This will take over two years.
It is important that clients are aware this is normal and having low income or significant pain or difficulties will not speed their case up. Getting an attorney in general does not speed the process up, but the proper attorney will make sure appeal deadlines are not missed, that all the medical records are ordered and received, and that the claimant is prepared when the hearing time comes. This is primarily why it is prudent to hire an attorney. Clients need to have realistic expectations of this long process.
Another frequently asked question is can I work? Although attorney can quickly explain SGA limits, which is currently $1,130 before taxes, it is important to go beyond that, and discuss that this is an inquiry to be made with their doctor. Discuss working restrictions from a physical and mental aspect with their doctor beyond just the allowable dollar amount from social security is prudent. Attorneys know that this is a long process and people need to get by, but these questions need to be discussed with counsel and a doctor to make the most informed decisions.
Client communication is an ethical obligation and an important aspect of effective representation in a social security disability case. For example, an attorney cannot be effective if the claimant does not give the attorney all of their medical sources and symptoms of their conditions, and a client cannot be helpful if they are not made aware of how the process works and what the social security looks at. Communication is key to obtaining benefits.
By Joshua Tripp