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If you or a loved one is being discriminated against or if you are disabled, there are things that can be done to protect your rights. There is no shame in asking for help. You may not know how to find the right attorney to represent you and your interests. You may not know people who can help. You may not have time to search the law yourself or make appointments with disability lawyers in your city, state, or country. All of these reasons make it hard to find a disability lawyer, but they aren’t legitimate excuses.
Disability lawyers are just like other attorneys in that they have a license and law degrees. They can be found in legal directories, which can be found online or at the library. Disability law is a specialization pursued through law school, not medical school, so all disability attorneys are attorneys first. Their specialty is protecting disabled people from discrimination and abuse.
What Is Social Security Disability?
Social Security Disability (SSD) is a government benefit for people who have worked and paid taxes but become unable to work due to impairments or a documented medical condition. The SSD program has strict eligibility requirements and a complex application process, including having supplemental forms completed by medical professionals. It can take many months for an application for SSD benefits to be approved or denied. By law, the SSD program can only determine whether you are disabled or not disabled. SSD benefits do not include any financial support for living expenses during the waiting period, which can be many months to years.
Disability lawyers make up one subset of legal professionals who specialize in helping disabled people. Disability lawyers help you obtain your disability benefits from the SSD program and may also help you fight insurance companies or other parties who are not paying appropriate disability benefits. All disability lawyers have an understanding of federal and state laws related to disability benefits, and some have additional training or experience in these areas.
Why Would I Need a Disability Lawyer?
In some cases, the SSD program may not provide enough money to cover living expenses during the waiting period. The SSD program pays benefits retroactively, so if you tried to supplement your income with a part-time job or by borrowing money while waiting for your application to be processed, you might have a debt to pay off before getting your disability benefits from the SSD program. Your disability lawyer can help you deal with these issues as well as appeal any initial denials of your claim for SSD benefits.
Most people who need disability benefits apply only once every few years, depending on their disability and how quickly they wear out their SSD benefits. If you have been denied SSD benefits, if your SSD benefits have been stopped or if you are facing financial difficulties with available SSD funds, a disability lawyer can help. A disability lawyer can also help you obtain your Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) payments in a timely manner and provide advice for any other issues related to your social security disability claim.
What Should I Look For In a Disability Lawyer? Where Can I Find One?
Look for disability lawyers with an office in or near your city or state. These disability lawyers will be most familiar with the laws and disability programs that apply to you. Find disability lawyers that have experience working with people who have a condition similar to yours, as your claim may be transferred to another lawyer if the attorney you choose retires, changes jobs, or dies. Ask about the disability lawyer’s experience with your type of disability. The better qualified a disability lawyer is, the more money you will probably receive in benefits. Some states require that lawyers hold an additional certification before they can practice in that area of law. To find out whether a disability lawyer is certified to practice law in your state, check with your State Bar Association.
How Does the Nature Of My Claim Affect Finding a Disability Lawyer?
If your claim was recently denied, it would be easier for you to find a lawyer with experience in that area of law. You may need a disability lawyer whose specialty is handling appeals or accepting certain types of cases, such as those involving terminations of parental rights or cruel and unusual punishment claims. If you have an attorney representing you in another type of legal matter, ask that attorney if he or she will provide a referral to disability lawyers with experience in SSD claims.
Whether your disability is temporary or permanent, if you are not getting the SSD benefits, you are entitled to, or if other people or organizations that should be paying benefits to you are not, a disability lawyer can help. Disability lawyers work within the law to help disabled people protect their rights and livelihoods. Ascertaining your eligibility for SSD is one of the first steps in obtaining your disability benefits.