What Is a Disability Lawyer?

What Is a Disability Lawyer?

Steven Schwartzapfel -Founding Partner Nov 29, 2022

For more than 35 years, Steven Schwartzapfel, the founding member of Schwartzapfel Lawyers P.C., has been one of New York’s most prominent personal injury attorneys. Steve represents clients in all types of personal injury cases. His experience, skill, and dedication have enabled Schwartzapfel Lawyers P.C. to recover hundreds of millions of dollars for their clients.

If you or a loved one have recently experienced a disability and can no longer work or your working ability has been diminished, you may need to apply for Social Security disability benefits (SSD). While these benefits can help you pay for medical bills and everyday expenses, navigating the SSD benefits process is notoriously complex.

A disability lawyer can assist through every step of the process in district court, state court, or federal court, as well as provide invaluable appeals council and other advantages to claimants.

Read on to learn more about what legal representation from a disability lawyer entails and why you should contact Schwartzapfel Lawyers today at 1-516-342-2200 for a free consultation.

What Is a Disability Lawyer?

A disability lawyer is a legal professional who knows how to navigate the Social Security disability system and its benefits for disabled workers. More importantly, they know how to push for and secure optimal benefits and case outcomes for their qualifying clients.

Disability lawyers may be brought in at the very beginning, before one applies for disability benefits, or they may be contacted after someone has already attempted to secure long-term disability benefits for themselves and found it to be difficult. In any event, experienced disability lawyers will know both federal and state law regarding disability applications, SSDI benefits limits and amounts, and more.

Many disability lawyers double as veterans’ law attorneys or personal injury lawyers, but not all. If you or a loved one require the assistance of a disability lawyer for a social security disability claim, be sure to hire one of these specialized professionals instead of a generalized lawyer or a law firm that specializes in another area of the law.

Key Duties of a Disability Lawyer

Disability lawyers may have different duties or responsibilities depending on the needs of their clients, the cases they handle, and their experience levels. Here are some of the most common tasks a disability lawyer can help you with:

Navigate the Claims Submission Process

For starters, a disability lawyer can help you navigate the benefits claims process. To receive disability benefits, you must:

  • Fill out a disability benefits application, as well as provide important medical evidence proving that you have impairments that qualify you for the benefits in the first place.
  • Fill out the correct paperwork with no mistakes, as mistakes can result in you not receiving benefits or receiving fewer benefits than you are entitled to.
  • Responding to Social Security inquiries or clarifying questions.
  • And more!

With a qualified attorney on your side, you should be able to seamlessly navigate this part of the process as you move toward reaching a successful outcome. To learn more about submitting a claim for your disability case, call Schwartzapfel Lawyers now and speak with one of our experienced disability attorneys. Simply dial 1-516-342-2200 and allow us the honor and privilege of assisting you on your path to physical, emotional, and financial recovery.

Why Is This Important?

Simply put, acquiring Social Security disability benefits is difficult. This is somewhat by design; because the system is opaque and hard to navigate through, few take advantage of the system by lying or cheating (in theory).

Unfortunately, average Americans who are disabled or who require SSD benefits find it very difficult, if not impossible, to fill out the right paperwork and submit everything on time and correctly.

It can be tough to know which forms you need to fill out, the exact kind of evidence you should submit, and when all your deadlines are. It’s also hard to acquire the appropriate amount of disability benefits you are entitled to.

Who Gets Social Security Benefits?

Furthermore, there is a lot of confusion around who gets Social Security benefits and when your benefits may cease if you are able to work some or all of the time or you’re already on supplemental security income (SSI).

Here are a few examples:

  • Trial work periods let individuals with disabilities test their ability to work for nine months. They receive full Social Security disability benefits even if they work full-time.
  • Extended periods of eligibility, which include up to 36 months. During this time frame, individuals with disabilities can work and still receive benefits if their earnings aren’t counted as substantial. To the government, this includes earnings in excess of $1,350, or, if you are blind, anything above $2,260.
  • Expedited reinstatement time frames, in which benefits stop if the applying individual has substantial earnings. Expedited reinstatement time frames are usually five years long.
  • Continuation of Medicare, which allows disabled individuals to still receive Medicare Part A coverage for at least 93 months even if they earn significant income.

Given these factors and the myriad ways in which one’s disability benefits can be increased or decreased, it’s a good idea to have a knowledgeable legal professional on your side to navigate and understand the entire process.

Submit Compelling Medical Evidence

In addition to helping you navigate the benefits claims process, a Social Security disability lawyer can help you submit critical and compelling medical evidence to the Social Security Administration.

The SSA does not accept any medical evidence when doling out disability benefits. In fact, you have to submit “overwhelming” evidence that you both live with a disability and that it makes it difficult for you to work or earn substantial income.

Compelling medical evidence for SSDI or SSI benefits can include but are not limited to:

  • Medical diagnostics or tests from licensed medical professionals
  • Personal accounts, such as a journal you keep over a long period of time
  • Eyewitness accounts from people near you, like friends, family members, or cohabitating roommates

For instance, if you live with advanced cancer that impacts your ability to work, you’ll need to submit:

  • The results of an imaging test, like a CT scan
  • The professional testimonial of your medical practitioner
  • Additional evidence

Only after you submit that evidence do you stand a chance of receiving Social Security disability insurance or insurance benefits. If you don’t submit the right evidence, or if your evidence paperwork is filed improperly, you could delay your benefits or receive no benefits at all.

A disability lawyer can help you gather the right evidence, make sure the evidence is collected and prepared properly, and submit it on your behalf in a timely manner. For a free consultation, visit Schwartzapfel Lawyersonline or call us at 1-516-342-2200.

Ensure Your Examination Rights Are Protected

Social Security attorneys can also help you avoid independent medical examinations (IMEs), which can be biased and against your interests. After you submit a disability benefits claim, you will most likely be asked to go through an independent medical examination.

The right disability lawyer will make sure your rights are protected during any IME. Additionally, they will work to ensure that you are examined by a licensed, trustworthy individual, not a biased doctor.

Why Is This Important?

Independent medical examinations are essentially second opinions that the SSA uses to confirm that you are actually disabled or suffering from a medical condition.

Unfortunately, most “independent” medical examiners are selected and paid for by your insurance company. Because the insurance company has a vested interest in not spending money on you, these medical examiners may also be biased and produce inaccurate results for your claim.

With a Social Security disability attorney fighting for your rights, you won’t have your disability benefits claim put off or ignored because a doctor fabricates evidence or downplays your symptoms. They can negotiate with the doctor, make sure that their medical opinions are valid, and, if necessary, call for another opinion to counteract a biased doctor’s opinion.

Here, experienced disability lawyers will know what to look for and will be able to spot anything that stands to diminish your chances of receiving full Social Security disability benefits.

Respond To Surveillance Attempts or Claims

Just as insurance companies order independent medical examinations, they may also attempt to surveil you by photographing or video recording your actions. For instance, the insurance company may attempt to photograph you while at work to prove that:

  • You are not actually disabled
  • Even if you are disabled, you’re not disabled enough to warrant disability benefits
  • You are not disabled enough to prevent you from obtaining substantial gainful employment

Surveillance, however, is not always indicative of your work abilities. For instance, you may be photographed working at your job, but the photograph may not capture the full physical discomfort you feel or how difficult it is for you to perform your duties.

A competent disability lawyer will know this, and will be able to help counteract claims against you by disproving or diminishing the effectiveness of any surveillance footage or pictures used against you. They’ll fight for you if the matter is brought to court or if the SSA inquires further because of surveillance evidence.

For more on this and related subjects, schedule a free consultation with Schwartzapfel Lawyers today. You can do this by visiting us online or by speaking with a member of our team directly at 1-516-342-2200.

But you shouldn’t wait, as your window to take action and recover the money and benefits you are entitled to may soon close forever. To keep this from happening, alert Schwartzapfel Lawyers to your situation and allow us the privilege of fighting for you!

Assist With the Appeals Process

If your disability claim has already been denied, it may still be wise to contact a disability lawyer. Every disability insurance policy has certain governing clauses. For instance, in many disability cases, you are required to file an appeal before you can sue your insurance company or another party.These governing clauses allow you to motion for an appeal or reconsideration.

Note: While you aren’t obligated to hire a disability lawyer, in most cases it’s a good idea to do so.

Why Is This Important?

The appeals process can be just as opaque, frustrating, and difficult to navigate through as the initial application process. Furthermore, the disability benefits appeals process takes a lot of time. You have to submit the proper paperwork, wait for the paperwork to be reviewed, and finally respond to questions or concerns raised by the SSA.

When you have a disability lawyer helping you through the process, you’ll accelerate the timeline and minimize how long you have to go without disability benefits.

More importantly, the appeals process can be tough to succeed through if you don’t know how to counter objections or concerns about your disability benefits claim. For instance, if the SSA is unsure about providing you with benefits due to a lack of compelling evidence, the right disability lawyer will be able to tell you:

  • What evidence you need to collect to change their minds
  • How quickly should gather the evidence

All of this information can make any appeals attempt more likely to succeed, which is vital if you need to acquire disability benefits or increase the benefits beyond what you currently receive.

Strategize Based on Likely Judges for Your Case

Many of the best disability attorneys know ALJs or administrative law judges who operate in their districts. This can be highly important for your disability benefits case.

In short, your disability lawyer should know:

  • How your administrative law judge likes hearings to go or the kind of evidence they like to receive.
  • Whether the administrative law judge has any biases against or for various medical conditions. For instance, one judge might be biased against mental health conditions like PTSD.

Given this information, a knowledgeable disability lawyer can:

  • Help you strategize your disability benefits claim or case.
  • Motion to have your case reviewed by a different judge if necessary. Note: As with the example above, they may request that your case be reviewed by a judge who is not biased against mental health issues.

Counteract Bad Facts

Insurance companies and other organizations may present “bad facts,” which may harm your case or minimize your chances of recovering compensation.

Bad facts can include but are not limited to:

  • Medical records that indicate you haven’t seen a doctor for several years
  • Medical opinions that you aren’t disabled, that you are exaggerating your symptoms, etc.
  • Evidence that you aren’t following a treatment plan or are doing so inconsistently

In any case, your lawyer should work diligently to counteract these bad facts, provide worthwhile explanations, and prevent them from harming your disability benefits application.

Provide Sound Legal Counsel

Above all else, the right disability lawyer will be able to provide you with sound legal counsel throughout every step of the disability benefits process. They’ll advise you from start to finish about:

  • When and how you should file for benefits
  • The level of benefits you should file for based on the likelihood of you receiving those benefits. Filing for a higher benefits rating than you are likely to receive could just waste valuable time and put further strain on your finances
  • How you should gather or submit your evidence
  • What you should write in your journal or whose eyewitness accounts you should pursue for evidence to support your disability benefits claim
  • And much more!

When you hire knowledgeable, experienced legal professionals, they’ll also fight for you in court if the matter requires it. They can help you get the most of your disability benefits claim and prevent your benefits from being diminished due to the actions of biased medical professionals or your insurance company.

To get the benefits you are entitled to, act now and contact Schwartzapfel Lawyers today at 1-516-342-2200. Your future is worth it.

How Are Disability Lawyers Paid?

The majority of disability lawyers are paid on a contingency fee basis. In fact, you should never hire a disability lawyer if they require you to pay them upfront.

A contingency fee simply states that the lawyer in question is only paid if they recover benefits or compensation for you through their efforts. For instance, if you hire a disability lawyer and they succeed in getting you benefits or a payout from the insurance company, they will take a percentage of that payout to cover their services.

Contingency fees are important since they prevent you from taking on additional financial burdens while you seek to resolve your legal issues. Accordingly, you should not hire a disability lawyer who requires a set fee or who promises that they’ll be able to get you exact disability benefits or a major insurance payout. This is because even the best lawyers cannot guarantee these things.

What To Look for in a Disability Lawyer

Before hiring a disability benefits lawyer, you should look for a few key factors, so you hire the right law firm for your needs. Specifically, you should look for:

  • Extensive experience in disability law. The best disability lawyers have many years of experience, which they can bring to bear on your case. The more experienced your lawyer is, the better they’ll be able to anticipate potential roadblocks or hurdles to overcome.
  • A contingency fee policy, as described above.
  • Solid online and in-person reviews. You can Google or search through Yelp for a specific law office or law firm. Make sure that the law firm is well-reviewed and that their previous and current clients are satisfied with their services.

Contact Schwartzapfel Lawyers Today

Ultimately, it’s a good idea to hire a disability lawyer if you or a loved one need to apply for or wish to appeal your current disability benefits. SSD benefits can be yours if you don’t have them already, and, with the right legal support, you may be able to acquire higher monthly payments than you are currently receiving.

To succeed here, you may need a professional lawyer to assist with a lawsuit. For example, if you acquired a disability due to an auto accident, the right car accident lawyers could help you recover compensation to cover your medical bills and more.

Schwartzapfel Lawyers can help with these cases and many more thanks to our extensive experience helping New Yorkers just like you become whole again. Contact us today for a free case evaluation by visiting us online or by calling 1-516-342-2200.

You’ve lost enough. Now’s the time to recover. Contact Schwartzapfel Lawyers today!

Sources:

Schwartzapfel Lawyers, P.C. | Fighting For You

Working While Disabled: How We Can Help | SSA.gov

How Is a Disability Advocate Different from A Disability Attorney? | Disability Benefits Help

Disability Benefits | SSA

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