Applied for disability and was rejected and request for reconsideration was also denied. History of head injury/POTS/dysautonomia with medical paperwork and documentation.
If your Request for Reconsideration has been recently denied, then you need to make sure the appeal is filed within 60 days of the denial date. If you miss the deadline you may have to start all over again.
There really isn't a "best" Social Security Disability firm. I would recommend using the "Find a Lawyer" tab at the top of this page to find a top-rated Social Security lawyer near you. Read what their prior clients have said about them in reviews. If they have no reviews that may be a red flag. Most importantly you want somebody who will talk to you personally and that you feel you can trust.
There is no "best" way, but here are some pointers to start you on your search.
- Do not hire a nationwide firm. Those firms do a massive volume practice, and rely on paralegals to do most of the work, with very little eyes-on from an attorney. Frequently they will have contractors in various states who have never seen a client's file until it's given to them before a hearing, possibly well-maintained, and possibly not. Clients do not usually meet with an attorney or know who their attorney will be until just before a hearing, sometimes speaking with the attorney the first time the day of the hearing.
- Most of the time, don't hire a large firm in your area. There are certainly exceptions to this rule. However, many of these firms also practice on a volume-practice model, just like the nationwide firms. They're usually a bit more eyes-on by the attorneys, but a client can often have the same problem with never knowing who the attorney will be, and having little or no contact until the hearing. Also, many large firms offering disability work are not just disability firms - they may be a small department in a mostly personal injury firm. Some of those even advertise disability work, but then farm out the cases to a completely different firm in the area.
- Look for an attorney who specializes in disability law in a solo practice or small specialty group. While this alone is not enough to find the right attorney for you, it maximizes your chances to get a great attorney you are comfortable with, if you ask the right questions:
* "Who will be my attorney, and will I have the same attorney from start to finish?" While it's not always problematic to have different attorneys in the firm handling your case, it sometimes can be. Not all attorneys are equally good or conscientious, even in a small firm. Keeping the same attorney means you know who you're dealing with, and that this particular attorney is watching over your case and preparing for a hearing for you. (There is no guarantee, of course, that this attorney will absolutely be handling everything. Attorneys have scheduling conflicts, get sick, have emergencies, or leave the firm, just like anyone else. But this maximizes your chances to work with someone you feel comfortable with.)
* "Will I be able to talk to my attorney through the case?"
Some firms will try to have you only talk to the paralegal staff. There's usually nothing wrong with that, but paralegals are not lawyers, and they can not advise you! You may have questions you want to talk to an attorney about now and then. You should be able to reach your attorney.
* "What kinds of work will your firm do for me?"
You can pretty much take it for granted that your attorney will go to court with you. However, the rest of the details may vary. If you are told that you should get copies of your records to bring to the attorney, RUN AWAY! This is not something a quality firm should ever expect. Getting complete records and submitting them in a timely manner is a core job for the firm, and something that firms can do better than any client. If they tell you that you will have to do your own various appeal paperwork throughout the process, RUN AWAY! This is another core service of a good disability firm. They likely will tell you that you will have to fill out your own questionnaires, such as Activities of Daily Living and Work History. There are good reasons that you should do this, but they also should be willing to help you with questions you have about the forms.
Some other pointers:
* Look up the attorney on a legal site, like Avvo. What feedback has been given on that attorney? Legal sites are much more reliable than Yelp, Google, etc., since actual clients are more likely to comment there. The general directory sites with review can be full of comments or ratings from people who have never been clients.
* Do you have friends or professional contacts who recommend a particular attorney?
I agree with the prior attorney responses. You do want a lawyer that focuses his or her legal practice on disability cases. Disability lawyers know the Social Security rules and regulations, are able how to get evidence and make the arguments to prove disability. Also look for a disability lawyer who will answer your calls personally and give you advice to guide you through the administrative process. You need someone who you can rely on personally and trust. A good disability lawyer will take the time to help you fill out all of those forms that SSA requires in addition to attending the hearing. They will make an effort to get all of your medical records and other evidence into the SSA claim file. I recommend that you contact a couple of disability lawyers for free consultations after you do your research and ask what that lawyer does personally for you and how support staff will be engaged in your case.
It may take awhile for you to find the best disability lawyer for you, so make sure you file your appeal within the 60 day timeframe.
The answer is a general comment based only on the facts in the question and is not considered legal advice.
I agree with the prior answers and especially want to emphasize Ms. Orrell's comment about not hiring a national firm. What they do is find any warm body to attend a hearing. Instead, find somebody local who is well regarded in the community and has a good working relationship with the local judges.
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