What does P.C. After an Attorney's Name Stand For?
ANSWER: These initials indicate the person
has incorporated their practice. State laws dictate the indicator that must be part of
the corporate name - PC for Professional Corporation, PA for Professional Association, and
PLLC for Professional Limited Liability Companies.
Do I Need A Disability Attorney?
ANSWER: The Social Security Administration (SSA) doesn't
require you to have an attorney, you can represent yourself. Professional
representation is a valuable service. The disability determination process is
complex. Claimants without professional representation appear to be far less likely
to receive the benefits to which they are entitled. For example, in 2000, 64% of
claimants represented by an attorney were awarded benefits at the hearing level.
However, only 40% of those without representation were awarded benefits at the
Do I Have to Pay The Attorney's Fee?
ANSWER: You're probably wondering, "How can I afford an
attorney when I am not working?" The answer is simple, you only pay the attorney a fee
if you win your case. You do not pay an attorney up front. Generally, every
disability attorney will represent you on a contingency fee basis. This means you do
not pay an attorney's fee unless you win your case. Thus, everyone seeking
disability benefits can afford an attorney. The question you should be asking yourself
is "can I afford not to be represented by an attorney?"
Are Attorney Fees Regulated?
ANSWER: The SSA and federal law set the attorney's
fees in disability cases. The standard fee agreement most attorneys use states
the attorney's fee is contingent upon winning your case. The fee is 25% of all past
due benefits for you and your family, up to a maximum of $5,300, or whichever is less.
Some attorneys may use a fee agreement which provides for a maximum fee of $7,000.
The attorney's fees are usually only a fraction of the benefits you receive; depending
on the amount of your past due benefits, it can be a very small fraction.
What Is My Case Worth If I Win?
ANSWER: The answer to this question depends on a
number of factors including, how long you have been disabled, when or if you will
ever return to work, the amount of your monthly benefit and whether you have
For example, if you are 45 years old, your monthly benefit amount is $1,000, and you do
not return to work before age 65; your case can easily be worth $250,000! This amount
does not include the value of the Medicare or Medicaid insurance you will be eligible
for after being found disabled. As many of you know, the price of medical insurance
in middle age, with pre-existing medical conditions, can be staggering and not
affordable. This of course assumes that an insurance company is willing to insure you.
Does Hiring A Disability Attorney Increase My Odds of Winning?
ANSWER: There are many reasons hiring an attorney can
significantly increase the odds of winning your case. One significant reason is that
disability attorneys understand the complicated laws and regulations that determine
success or failure.
They know what you need to prove in order to win your case, and they know how to go about
proving it. Hiring an attorney who specializes in Social Security disability law
is extremely important because they have the expertise in representing people with
your type of diagnosis. It is also important that your attorney believes in your case
and that they can win it. I suggest you ask the attorney how much experience they have
with your type of diagnosis and how often do they win? Any disability attorney should
be willing to provide you with this information.
How Soon Should I Hire An Attorney?
ANSWER: From the beginning, the attorney should set
forth a strategy that you both of you should follow to win your case. It is critical
to understand what is necessary to prove your case and how you will go about winning
it. The sooner you know this, the sooner you can take steps to execute the strategy
and thereby increase your odds of winning. Thus, you should consult with and hire
an attorney either when you file your claim oras soon thereafter as possible.
I encourage you to consult with an attorney as soon as possible to help you understand
the process. The consultation should not cost you anything except your time.
By understanding the process and having a strategy, you will significantly increase
your odds of winning your case.
Is There A Right Way To Fill Out The SSA Forms?
ANSWER: Judges don't usually approve your case based
on what you say on the forms. However, they often use what is said in the forms to
support a denial of your claim. This is because if the SSA or a judge is going to
approve your claim, they will base it on more compelling objective evidence such as
medical records and/or treating physicians' opinions regarding your inability to work.
Here are a few tips when completing the SSA's forms that should significantly reduce the
likelihood of making a serious mistake that comes back to bite you in the you-know-what!
- Limit your answers to the space that has been provided and do not write in the
margins or attach additional sheets of paper.
- Answer all questions as if you're having a bad day. Simply put, if you were
back working on a sustained basis, most likely every day would be a bad day.
- You should mention all the diagnoses that have even a small impact on your inability
to work. Use 5% of the allotted space to reference diagnoses and 95% to discuss
the frequency, severity and duration of your symptoms and limitations. Explain how
they limit not only your ability to work but also your ability to function on a
- Completely resist the urge to be the perfectionist you are! Before you became ill you
were probably an organized perfectionist who was incredibly productive. Everything in your
life had its place; I know it kills you it is not that way now. However, this is not
the time to be a compulsive, organized perfectionist!
One of the hallmarks of your inability to work is your concentration problems, memory
impairment and brain fog. Your life is now an unorganized mess. The SSA needs to see
the real you and not a top notch administrative assistant who is articulate and
possesses phenomenal organizational and typing skills. Do not typewrite your
answers. Always handwrite them even if your answers become illegible. The clarity of
your handwriting and the way you answer the questions tells a lot about the severity
of your concentration and memory problems.
I remember it took me several days to complete my SSA forms. Your goal should be to
have your answers look like it took you days. In fact, if it did take you days, make
sure you tell the SSA that somewhere on the form.
Although the primary reason you are unable to work may be due to a physical diagnosis,
don't overlook the psychological issues that often arise after years of dealing
with chronic pain and fatigue. You want to win your case anyway you can, whether it is
due to physical or psychological problems, or quite frequently, a combination of