How to Find a Good Disability Lawyer in Los Angeles

By Kenton Koszdin Law Office on June 13, 2023 | In Disability Lawyer

How to Find a Good Disability Lawyer in Los Angeles

Finding a Los Angeles Social Security disability lawyer can be challenging — there are many options in the city and surrounding area. The good news is that there are a few steps you can take to find an attorney who listens to you, fights for your rights, and has the experience with California and federal disability law to get the best outcome for you.

Here is how to find a disability attorney to handle your claim and appeal.

How Can a Disability Attorney Help Me?

Qualified disability attorneys are well-versed in Social Security law and keep abreast of changes to Social Security disability benefits eligibility and the enrollment process.

Your lawyer assists you with each phase of the application process and advocates in your best interests by:

  • Filing the disability benefits application for you;
  • Helping you appeal a denial;
  • Obtaining the relevant medical records needed for your claim;
  • Communicating with the Social Security office on your behalf;
  • Representing you in a disability hearing case;
  • Meeting all deadlines for filing;
  • Making sure you meet each requirement for documentation.

We develop a compelling strategy tailored to your case to get you the best possible outcome.

Why Do I Need a Social Security Disability Lawyer?

Having professional legal advice as you apply for Social Security benefits or appeal a claim denied by the Social Security Administration (SSA) is essential. By finding a good disability lawyer, you can:

  • Increase your chances of winning your disability claim appeal by three times, according to the US General Accounting Office (GAO);
  • Have all relevant paperwork prepared by a professional to ensure no errors or omissions delay your claim;
  • Build the best possible case to present before a judge.

It’s important to also keep in mind the indications of a bad lawyer.

These can include:

  • They’re slow to submit your medical records to the SSA;
  • They don’t guide you through filling out your initial application;
  • They don’t cross-examine witnesses at your hearing or prepare you to speak to the judge;
  • They don’t reply to phone calls or messages;
  • You don’t receive case updates, or you’re dropped right before your hearing.

So how can you find a good Social Security disability lawyer?

Common Criteria to Consider While Looking for a Social Security Disability Lawyer

Find a disability lawyer

Whether you’re looking online at options for a Social Security Disability lawyer or you’re evaluating your top referrals in person, there are a few criteria to keep at the front of your mind while you’re finding a disability attorney:

What Is Their Primary Area of Practice?

Is the attorney someone whose focus of practice law is disability benefits? A lawyer may have plenty of successes in one area of the law but may be unknowledgeable about what it takes to argue in disability hearings. Confirm that this law firm primarily takes SSA benefits cases, so you know they have the experience to help get your claim approved.

Read Their Reviews

Looking for a disability lawyer

Take the time to read the content of legal reviews. What you want to look for is an attorney who values their clients and provides personalized service for each case. One or two bad reviews aren’t necessarily indicative of a bad lawyer — sometimes cases aren’t winnable, or the lawyer took a chance to help someone in an uncertain situation.

If you see patterns of unresponsiveness or indications that the attorney doesn’t have a high success rate, though, look elsewhere.

What Kind of Legal Education Do They Have?

Some law schools are for-profit; if the enrollee pays enough money, eventually, they’ll get a degree. However, these schools may not be accredited or have provided the kind of in-depth legal education that nonprofit universities offer.
Though as long as a lawyer’s background and experience seem respectable, the specific law school they went to shouldn’t be taken as a great or bad sign all on its own.

How Long Have They Been Practicing?

How to find a good disability attorney

The longer an attorney has been practicing, the greater the likelihood they have run into a situation like yours before. If you have an especially complicated case, look for a disability attorney with lengthy experience.

Newer lawyers may not be as familiar with some of the more obscure or unusual situations that can be hard to evaluate without much of a legal background.

Are They Local?

A local lawyer can give you an advantage in many cases. They know the local judges and have likely argued cases in many of their courtrooms before. However, SSA cases involve federal law, so a lawyer with a national practice will still have the knowledge and experience to pursue your case.

Many nationally practicing SSA attorneys can do video calls with clients, especially since many clients may have trouble with traditional in-person meetings. If you can’t find a local one who suits your criteria, a national lawyer may be better for your claim.

What Kind of Access Do You Have to Your Attorney?

Just because you can’t talk directly to a lawyer when you initially call doesn’t mean that the lawyer is inaccessible. Many disability benefits attorneys have support staff, like paralegals, available to answer common questions or explain how to fill out certain types of paperwork.

Experienced disabilities claim lawyers tend to spend a lot of time in hearings, so it’s likely that yours may be in court when you call.

Do They Make Grand Promises for Your Disability Claim?

Even if you have the strongest case in the world, whether you receive disability benefits isn’t always guaranteed. Be wary of lawyers who make definitive promises, especially if it’s a case where your initial claim was denied.

A good attorney knows that it’s not just unfair to a client to make a guarantee of approval — it’s also unethical. A good lawyer gives you an informed opinion of the strength of your case based on their experience and knowledge of disability law.

An example of a good answer would be that your lawyer can ensure your case won’t have delays because of errors or omissions on your form or because you didn’t have the right supporting documents. But they can’t make the SSA move any faster.

What Kind of Approval Rates Do Their Cases Have?

How to find a disability lawyer

Good law firms will disclose their approval rate for SSA disability benefits cases. Some questions you can ask to learn more about the firm’s success rate include:

  • What percent of your cases are hearing-level cases?
  • What is your overall approval rate for claims?
  • What percent of your wins are for partial benefits?
  • What portion of your wins are for full benefits?

One caveat with these questions is to ask whether the firm regularly takes on more difficult cases. Some disability benefits claims are fairly straightforward and uncomplicated, so the approval chances are high.

Some lawyers may choose clients who have a more complex Social Security disability claim, like those who were previously denied, because they want to help people in need. However, more complex cases may mean a lower approval rate by the numbers, but this doesn’t mean the attorney is unqualified.

How Organized Is Their Office and Case Management?

Disability claims law firms can be busy places, but you should still have a regular contact person to answer your questions and provide updates for your claim. The firm should also apprise you as your case moves forward, sending out updates about hearing notices or if you need to submit other documents.

Some questions you can ask to get a feel for working with the office include:

  • Do I have my own case manager, and how many cases do they handle?
  • What kind of support staff does your office have?
  • Will I be working with a paralegal or a lawyer?
  • How often will I receive updates about my disability claim?
  • Will you request medical records for me?
  • Will your firm advance the cost of requesting my medical records?

Most law firms will advance the cost of obtaining the records and other supporting documentation for your case. However, whether you win or lose, you will probably still have to repay them for these costs.

Vetting Your Attorney’s Credentials

How to find a disability advocate

Legally, you won’t need a licensed attorney to represent you in a disability claims hearing — it’s not a formal court of law, even though there is an administrative law judge.

That being said, a licensed lawyer likely has more knowledge of Social Security and disability law than a non-lawyer. However, if your case passes the regular appeals hearing and is appealed in federal court, then you will need a licensed attorney to represent you.

Attorneys receive specific training in law school to read and interpret case law and statutes, both state and federal. They can read the applicable parts of case law for your Social Security disability claim and explain how they relate to you and your disability benefits.

5 Tips to Find a Qualified Disability Attorney

It can be hard to know how to find a disability claim advocate, especially if this is your first time navigating the SSA benefits filing process or the legal system. You know to consider the lawyer’s track record, experience, and qualifications, but what about how to start with where to find a good disability lawyer?

These tips on how to find a disability advocate can help:

1. Ask People for Recommendations

You can ask family or friends if they know of a good disability attorney in your area, or if they have heard about the reputation of local lawyers. Another great resource for finding a good lawyer is your medical care team. They may have a referral agreement with experienced disability lawyers or have encountered good ones professionally.

2. Read Online Client Reviews and Testimonials

How to find a disability attorney

Client reviews and testimonials can help you narrow your search down. Lawyers often post reviews on their own websites and social media pages, and you can also search Google Reviews, Yelp, and other review sites. Look for both positive and negative feedback for each attorney.

3. Check Attorney Referral Services

Los Angeles is home to thousands of lawyers, many of whom participate in attorney referral services. You may be able to find more information online about attorneys focused on disability cases, and then ask for a free consultation from an experienced disability attorney.

4. Check Your State’s Bar Association Website

The California Bar Association lists all licensed attorneys in Los Angeles and across the rest of the state. You can use its website to search by practice areas, like SSA and disability law, or search for those who represent Social Security disability insurance claims.
Once you have those results in hand, you can look up individual lawyers to learn more about their experience.

5. Ask a Lawyer to Refer You to a Disability Specialist

If you have worked with a lawyer in the past, like in a divorce or for a traffic ticket, then you can ask them to refer you to a lawyer whose firm primarily handles disability cases. Lawyers may be cautious about giving referrals, though, as it could harm their reputation if the lawyer they refer doesn’t represent you well.

Tips for Selecting a Disability Advocate

How to find a good disability lawyer

We know finding the right Social Security disability attorney can feel overwhelming, especially if you’re already struggling financially or with the limitations of your disability. Once you’ve put together a short list of potential lawyers to help with your disability benefits case, the next step is meeting with each one to find the right advocate.

Many layers will offer a free initial consultation over the phone or via video call, but before you talk to the lawyer, you may need to answer a few questions about your disability eligibility with their support staff.

Once you get to the initial consultation stage, ask yourself these questions to know if the lawyer is a good fit:

  • Do you feel comfortable talking to the lawyer?
  • Do you feel comfortable disclosing information about things you did or didn’t do?
  • Do you feel that your concerns are understood?

You’ll have to have frank conversations about personal issues, so make sure your lawyer is someone you trust. Some people may feel like their lawyer is judging them — if you feel this way, move on to the next name on your list. You also shouldn’t feel rushed or frustrated that no one seems to understand.

You’re going to be working closely with your lawyer for weeks or even months, sharing very personal information. It’s the lawyer’s role to provide you with realistic expectations about the outcome of your case and advocate on your behalf.

Finding Los Angeles Disability Attorneys

By following these tips on how to find a disability lawyer, you can find the right advocate for your case.

When you work with the legal team at Kenton Koszdin Law Office, you’re in good hands. Our lawyers have a deep knowledge of Social Security disability regulations and federal laws regarding disability benefits.

We work with clients just like you across the greater Los Angeles area, from filing your initial claim to arguing your case in a Social Security disability hearing. Contact an experienced lawyer today for a free consultation!

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