Many people whose disability benefits are denied by the Social Security Administration make the wise decision to hire a licensed attorney specializing in Social Security disability claims to guide them through their appeal. However, the vast majority of those people have never worked with an attorney before. The notion of going to see a lawyer might make some clients a little bit nervous or uneasy, especially if they are not sure what to expect during the first meeting.
What Will Happen When You Meet Your Attorney to Discuss Your Case
In the Houston office, we typically meet with you face to face about four to five weeks before your hearing takes place. This meeting usually lasts about one and a half to two hours, depending on the complexity of your case. In our Dallas office, the attorneys might have two separate and shorter meetings with you before the hearing. In Houston, we cover all the same information in one longer meeting and call you the day before the hearing to review things. You are welcome, and encouraged, to bring a family member or friend with you to this meeting. While we greatly prefer to meet our clients in person, if you have no transportation or live too far away from our office, we will conduct this meeting over the telephone.
During this meeting, your attorney will:
- Explain how the Social Security disability process works, from the time you file your initial application to the steps the Administrative Law Judge considers when determining whether you are disabled.
- Ask questions about your educational background, work history, physical and/or mental conditions, symptoms, treatment history, daily activities, and most importantly, how your various medical problems interfere with your ability to work.
- Discuss what to expect at the hearing, how to talk to the Judge, and things you can do to strengthen your case.
What you discuss with your lawyer is strictly confidential and protected by the attorney-client privilege.
How to Prepare for This Meeting
There are a few things you can do to help this meeting go smoothly. Please do the following:
- Bring a list of the medications you are currently taking, including the dosage instructions.
- Bring a list of the doctors you have seen since you stopped working. Include the doctor’s first and last name, office address, and phone number.
- Bring a list of the various jobs you have performed in the last 15 years. Think about the various duties you had to perform in these jobs, especially the more physical aspects (like how much weight you had to lift and whether you performed the job mostly seated or on your feet).
- Consider about how long, on average, you can stand in one place, walk, and sit in an upright position at one time. Also take note of about how much weight you can lift and carry on an average day.
- Write down ahead of time any questions or concerns you wish to discuss at your meeting.
- Consider the answers to various questions that you are likely to be asked, such as: How long have you been out of work? Did you pay into the Social Security system? Is your condition expected to last for more than one year or result in death? Could you do another type of job?
At Morgan & Weisbrod, we strive to make our clients feel comfortable. You can expect to be treated with respect and dignity as we work with you to learn your story and gather information about why you can no longer work. We will listen to your concerns, explain the legal process, do our best to answer all of your questions, and provide you with suggestions to strengthen your case and make your hearing go smoothly. We understand how important your claim is and we want you to leave our office knowing you made the right choice in entrusting it to us.
by Paul B. Burkhalter Managing Partner of Morgan & Weisbrod, Board Certified in Social Security Disability Law.