How to Pick a Good Social Security Disability Lawyer

Social Security topics are commonly associated with  endless questions and headaches. Finding a good Social Security disability lawyer is no exception. It is however, the most important factor in securing the success of your claim. Below, you’ll find a list of details and questions that should, at the very least, help point you in the right direction.

Just What Is Social Security disability?

Social Security “disability” is an insurance program provided by the federal government. It is managed by the Social Security administration and was created to help individuals who are unable to work because they have a disability that prohibits them from doing so. Most of the time this disability is of a physical nature therefore benefits may be either temporary or permanent depending on each individual’s diagnosis.

What is a Social Security disability lawyer?

A lawyer in general is a person who has met certain qualifications: a bachelor’s degree, a Juris doctorate and admission to a state bar. Once that person has pass their bar exam, they then choose a certain field to practice in. Social Security disability lawyers choose to work primarily with cases involving a claim produced by a person seeking disability payments. These lawyers work on behalf of the claimant to produce a court ruling in favor of their client.

Where to find a lawyer

You can find a lawyer online, in the yellow pages, through legal aid clinics, and also the referral service that is operated by each state’s bar association. There are a few things you should look for when deciding on which lawyer to contact. It is good to examine the lawyers experience with your situation, their education levels, and the fees that they would likely charge.

Once you contact the lawyers’ office, it’s good to start a conversation about their experience winning cases similar to yours. Generally lawyers specializing in social security cases are very busy and it’s hard for them to offer a lot of attention to one claimant. One thing to look for when sorting through which lawyer to pick is to find one that will take or return your calls. A lawyer that isn’t available to take your calls may not be available for your hearing until a time later than what you were hoping for.

7 questions you should ask before hiring a lawyer

When hiring any type of lawyer, especially one handling your social security case, it’s extremely important to find out as best you can whether that particular lawyer is a good fit. In order to make this process easier, there are a few key questions that should be asked right away. These questions will help you to quickly determine if the lawyer you are speaking to is one that will not only represent you well, but also win your case.

1- Are you a licensed attorney?

Licensed attorneys are graduates from law school who have spent years learning how the system works. If their answer is no, then it’s time to look for a new lawyer as nonlawyer representatives are generally not as reliable.

2- On average, how many hearings a week do you have?

If a lawyer has a few hearings a week, it’s a good determination of their current client base. The more clients they have, the more experienced they are.

3- What is your win rate?

With this question, you are simply asking what their win rate is in the court room. Now here’s the tricky part. It’s important to evaluate how they answer that question. When they answer the question, do they talk about not only how their win rate is high but how they guarantee you a win as well? Sometimes they will replace the word win with success. This can be a big red flag. Some lawyers have a high success rate due to what is termed ‘cherry picking’. This means that if they feel that the case might be lost, they will go ahead and drop the client to preserve their high rate. If instead your potential lawyer evaluates your case thoroughly and details the good and bad on top of answering your question, then you’re more likely to have a lawyer that will stick with you though the entire hearing.

4- Do you have experience winning claims with my current medical condition?

This is a great follow up question. It is not necessary for the lawyer to have past experience with your individual medical condition, but it certainly helps.

5- Will I be charged out of pocket expenses on top of the lawyer fees? What type of expenses are they?

It’s key to know right away what types of charges come with the hiring of a lawyer. When asking these questions, don’t be shy to go after the little details. Don’t let the questions get pushed around or answered vaguely. If the lawyer you’re interviewing dances around with the answers then you know right there that he/she is not the right person to represent your case. The last thing you want are unannounced and unexpected expenses.

6- Have you ever had arguments with Social Security staff or the judges?

The answer to this question lets you know if your prospective layer is a bully rather than a persuasive lawyer.

7- What do other Social Security lawyers think of you?

A good lawyer will have a list, or at least a card, of one or more local lawyers that can detail how he acts in the courtroom. You’ll want a lawyer that gets along with others. If they do not have anyone that can vouch for their behavior, then you’ll know right away that this particular person is not a good lawyer.

Payment of fees, medical records and potential exams

You will need to sign a fee agreement that allows the Social Security Administration (SSA) to pay your attorney in the event that the claim is approved. A fee agreement is a written statement signed by the claimant and the attorney outlining what the attorney is going to charge and collect. The SSA then approves the fee agreement. Social Security lawyers generally work off of contingency which means they only collect money only if they win your claim. Social Security disability lawyers can only earn up to 25% of the past-due benefits, or a maximum of $6,000. Generally there will be expenses aside from the lawyers’ fee.

The lawyer has to request the claimant’s work, medical, and school records. They may also require medical or psychological examinations. This would all be paid separate from the attorney’s fee. Some attorneys may request money in advanced for these expenses which is permitted so long as the attorney holds the money in trust and uses it as needed. Most attorneys will pay these costs and once the case has closed they will send a bill of all the expenses.


Hopefully these questions will help in choosing the right Social Security disability lawyer for you or a family member. When it comes to interviewing potential lawyers, remember that no question is too simple to ask. You have the right to make the most informed decision possible.

At, we are dedicated to helping you and your family ease the search for just the right community.  For more information and to use our Search, Sort and Match ™ tool please visit our website or call us at 877-243-8073.

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Atomic Clock

We found this clock on Amazon and love the large, comprehensive display!  The digital face shows the time, day of the week and the date all in one spot for easy reading. We’ve found it a helpful, inexpensive tool for seniors, folks with dementia and vision impairment. Some of our clients and friends have one in every room as a handy and important reminder. You can purchase the clock from Amazon for just $23.64 by clicking here.

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Share All County Day

2014 Share All County Day is on Wednesday, May 14, 2014 at the Ball Auditorium of John Muir Hospital. The event start from 11 am to 1 pm. This is a great opportunity to network with the John Muir’s employee and also with others from senior healthcare organisation. Please register early because the space is limited and is on “first come first served basis”. For more information call : 877-243-8073.


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Open House at Emeritus at Barrington Court – Danville

Emeritus at Barrington Court is a Memory Care Community. They are having Open House on March 27, 2014 from 11 am to 3 pm. Tour the community and enjoy refreshing Italian Soda. For more information call: 877-243-8073


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Purple Party at Vintage Brush Creek – Santa Rosa

Vintage Brush Creek is hosting a fundraising event called Purple Party. The funds will be forwarded directly to the Alzheimer’s Association. The party is on Tuesday, June 3rd, 2014, from 3:30 to 6:30 pm. Dean Ratzman will be playing the Swing Music. There will be silent auction items to bid on, great food and fabulous dessert. The community is requesting $5.00 donation at the door. For more information call: 877-243-8073

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How To Create a Will & What Should Your Will Include?

The topic of a last will is one that most of us try to avoid until we are forced to deal with it. Before you start researching this topic, you might assume that a will has to be a long and complicated document that only an expensive lawyer can draft, but that doesn’t really have to be the case.

A will can actually be a fairly short and simple document, and in many states there are ways of doing it without a lawyer. If you use a lawyer or you end up creating the document itself, it’s good to know what should be included and what’s better left to handle in other ways. The list below is a good place to start, so you’ll know the basics.

1 – Research the legal format in your state

As mentioned, in some states (and countries) you can easily produce your own will without a lawyer as long as you follow the legal guidelines. Generally, you’ll need to start off with your legal name, address, and date you signed the will. This is also where you’ll designate the date this will becomes effective, and also that it replaces any other previous will if there is one.

2 – Choose and name one or more executors

The executor of your will is the person you’ll designate to carry out your requests and also handle details like paying your final bills and expenses. This can be a spouse or family member or a friend, and it’s recommended that you discuss this with them before creating the will.

If you have property or anything else that might be complicated for the person you designate as executor, you can instead choose an attorney or business advisor to be the executor or co-executor with the other party. Typically they will get paid a fee for their help, but it can save a lot of time and hassle if your estate is large or unusual.

Put in writing that you request your executor(s) have the right to manage your estate, which isn’t automatically implied in all states, so it’s wise to include this seemingly obvious element.

3 – Include instructions on paying off your debt and final expenses

Before your remaining estate can be distributed, your executor(s) will need to use your assets to pay off any debts, taxes, or final bills and any other expenses you might have. You should include instructions that they have the right to do so. These final payments, may include funeral costs, but the will is not a good place to make requests for burial or funeral arrangements. The will-reading might not happen immediately, so put instructions about your funeral or burial somewhere else that they are accessible to a friend or family member who knows about them and can carry them out.

4 – If you have dependent children, name their guardian

If you have children who are not yet 18 years old when you are making the will, you’ll obviously want to name a guardian who will be in charge of them until they reach adulthood. Needless to say, this is another conversation you should have before you name this person or people in your will. If the children are going to inherit property it’s also important to designate the adult who will be in charge of it until the children come of age.

5 – List everything in your “estate” and who shall receive it

This is obviously the most well known part of a will, and it might also be the most difficult one to accomplish. First it’s a good idea to spend time thinking about everything that would be included in your “estate,” including anything from real estate to cars to furniture to photo albums. In other words, you can include things that have sentimental or family value but no resale value.

You can make this as simple or complicated as you like. The “beneficiary” can often be obvious when considering real estate and other more valuable items, but as mentioned you can include family heirlooms and photos and such. Keep in mind that not everyone will take the care you might like to make sure these items stay in the family, so consider who you designate carefully.

6 – Sign the will with witnesses

Again, this can vary from state to state, and in many it can be done without an attorney. But the final step will generally be to sign and date your will in front of two witnesses who are not beneficiaries to prove that it’s legal and not completed under duress.

7 – Store your will in a safe place

Once you have a legal will you’ll need to make sure that the executor and perhaps other family members know where it is and that they have easy access to it. This might be in a safe deposit box or just a desk at home, but make sure the right people know where to find it.

We hope this simple approach to making your will is helpful and provides some motivation to get started. At, we are dedicated to helping you and your family ease the search for just the right community. For more information and to use our Search, Sort and Match ™ tool please visit our website or call us at 877-243-8073.

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The Wellness Expo

The Wellness Expo

This expo will be held on Saturday, May 10, 2014, from 10 am to 3 pm at Santa Rosa Veteran’s Memorial Building with free admissions. The sponsors of the expo are Sonoma County Board of Supervisors, First Community Bank and Sutter Medical Center of Santa Rosa. The exhibitors includes Hamilton Relay, Alzheimer’s Association, Jewish Community Center of Sonoma County, Santa Rosa Fire Department, Edward Jones and many more.

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16th Annual Senior Expo of Santa Rosa

This expo will be held on Saturday, May 3, 2014, from 9 am to 12 pm at Person Senior Wing, 2060 West College, Santa Rosa. The sponsors of the event are Visiting Angels, Sutter Health, Rethink Possible, Santa Rosa Memorial Park, Primrose and Right at Home. The expo welcomes everyone and has more than 80 exhibitors. This is a great opportunity to explore more about travel, benefit, recreation and fitness programs and educational seminars. The event offers free health care screening.


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Avenida’s Housing Conference

The conference is on Saturday, March 22nd, 2014, 8:30 am – 2:15 pm at Avenidas – 450 Bryant Street, Palo Alto. The keynote speaker is of the event is Anabel Pelham, PHD. She is the president of the National Association of Professional Gerontologists. The presenting sponsor is Nancy Goldcamp of Coldwell Banker, partnering sponsor is The Avant at Palo Alto Commons and supporting sponsor is Home Instead Senior Care. The presentation topics includes “Get the Keys to Successful Home Selling” by Nancy Goldcamp, Realtor; “Programs for Successful Aging” by Vickie Epstein, Avenidas Village and Annie Zacanti, Avenidas Roser Kleiner; “Don’t Spend It All in One Place” by Carla Cumpston, CFP, Edward Jones; “Exploring Possibilities for Accessibility” by Genie Nowicki, Harrell Remodeling; “Navigating a New Environment” by Emily Farber, MSW, Avenidas Care Partners and many more.

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Seventh Annual “The Art of Aging Resource Fair

The Jewish Community Center of San Francisco is hosting it’s seventh annual “The Art of Aging Resource Fair” on Thursday, April 10, 2014. The event is sponsored by UCSF Medical Center. The presentation topics includes sexual health and the aging woman; how not to have a heart attack; sleeping in a society that never sleeps and an evidence-based look at the popular dietary supplements used by seniors. The attendees can benefit from various activities that include chair massage, hearing screenings, gentle yoga, chair Pilates, nutritional counseling and many more.

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