Q & A with Social Security Disability Attorney Andrew Kinney
Q: What should you know about your Social Security Lawyer?
A: If you have a Social Security Disability or SSI claim, denials lead to a Social Security hearing with a judge and usually at least one expert witness. At the hearing, you should have an attorney with you. Attorneys only charge you if you are approved. You should know the following things about your Social Security attorney:
- Verify that your “attorney” is actually a licensed attorney. Non-attorneys can represent people at Social Security hearings. If you want an attorney—especially one who is skilled in cross-examination and legal argument—ask the firm which state or states the attorney doing your hearing is licensed in. All licensed Social Security attorneys are licensed in at least one state. Once you know this, you can verify this online. If you learn your “representative” going to your hearing is not an attorney, you have the right to change who is helping you. If your Social Security hearing is already scheduled, you can contact the hearing office to ask about how you can change your representation.
- Ask about your Social Security attorney’s experience. The most important experience is your attorney’s understanding of Social Security law and medical concepts. Ask your attorney doing your hearing about years of practice in Social Security law, the number of Social Security hearings he or she has completed, and about how your medical evidence may allow you to be approved. Reach a comfort level with the answers. Otherwise, you can ask a multiple attorney Social Security firm to switch the attorney assigned to your hearing, or fire the firm altogether. This is your right.
- Verify that the firm you are hiring actually will do your hearing. Surprisingly, some firms merely sign up new clients (meaning YOU!) and then pawn them off the regional attorneys who are not employees. This means two things. First, you have no idea who your attorney may be at your hearing. Second, the firm you are hiring has not trained your attorney. These are significant issues to learn about. Find this out from the firm listed on your “fee contract.”
I hope this blog will prove helpful when hiring a Social Security attorney. If you have questions about your own Social Security claim, you can call our law firm (and our Hoglund Law Offices lawyers) at 855-780-4357.