August 2007


A client asked me an interesting question today. She said “isn’t it in the lawyer’s interest for the social security case to take longer since there will be more back benefits.”

In Social Security disability cases the lawyer is only paid from back benefits. So it is true that the attorney receives a larger fee when the case goes longer. The problem is the client and the lawyer both want to be paid as soon as possible. When cases take over 2 years no one benefits. A disabled person cannot work and needs money, and the lawyer has to wait for just as long to get paid.

Everyone would be much happier if the case took less than a year to be resolved and benefits paid.

Unfortunately, neither the client or the attorney has control over the hearing date. Social Security decides when the case is ready for trial. See my earlier post regarding expediting the hearing.

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Let’s face it, it easy to give in and become overwhelmed in the face of pain and negative circumstances. Almost everyone who applies for Social Security disability has daily pain and limitations in their daily activities. On top of it, Social Security specializes in denying most claims. You are discouraged already and then you are denied benefits. But if you do not continue to appeal the denials you know what the result will be.

Social Security disability is unique in that you can keep appealing and applying for benefits. In other types of cases you only get one shot along with potential appeals. If you are denied Social Security and lose at hearing you can reapply. Certainly, your back benefits will be affected and sometimes your insured status will run out, but you can continue to appeal and apply.

The point is that the Social Security disability process favors those who do not give up and give in.

I would be glad to discuss ideas for helping you through the long wait and whether you should continue the course.
Call me, Attorney Dirk May, at 309-827-4371.

Be careful out there. You may get what you ask for.

Understandably, people want a disability hearing as soon as possible but sometimes it may hurt you. As I have explained in this blog, you can contact your congressperson or united states senator and ask them for an expedited Social Security disability hearing. Often this helps speed up the process.

However, if you are 48 or 49 years old you may want to think carefully about this approach. Or at least discuss it in detail with your lawyer. The problem is that Social Security regulations relax when you reach 50 years of age. If you can work a sit down job you can still be found disabled. If you are less than 50 years old and can perform a sit down job, then you will not be found disabled.

In this example, if you have a disability hearing before you are 50 years old you would lose, and if you did not have the hearing until after your 50th birthday you would win.

Social Security has disability statistics for 2006 available. It shows 2,590 people on disability in Champaign county, 2440 in McLean County, 4,055 in Peoria County and 4,645 in Sangamon County.

You do not have to leave your house to come to my office to discuss your Social Security disability case. I will be glad to meet with you in your home or at the public library or any where you desire. I understand that it is often inconvenient, painful or impossible for a disabled client to come to a lawyer’s office. I make it simple and easy for you. I will bring the paper work to your house and explain everything to you. I will keep you informed throughout the long process and even take you to the hearing if you need a ride.

Please feel free to call me, Dirk, at 309-827-4371. I am a lawyer for Social Security disability clients throughout Central Illinois including Bloomington, Peoria, Champaign and Springfield.

Enough with the depressing Social Security disability case backlog news stories.

One of my favorite stories about giving a Social Security client a ride to a hearing happened this past winter. We made it to the hearing and it was snowing like crazy and was supposed to keep snowing all day. I had an early hearing and then one after lunch with my client. The judge felt sorry for us and moved us up so we could get out of there.

The roads were very icy and snow packed. On the way back the traffic was going about 45 mph on the interstate. The car in front of us spins out and I put on the brakes and lose control. Miraculously, neither of us hits anyone else and no one hits us but I run into the guardrail. I look over at my client and he is in the back seat. I started laughing and asked him how he ended up there. He looks at me and says “I don’t know I just jumped from the front seat into the back”. Fortunately, no one was hurt.

The American Association of People with Disabilities has recently released a report listing 2006 Social Security Disability case loads by State. The good news is that Illinois ranked 25th in delays. The bad news is that means 24,278 cases are pending out of 231,633 total beneficiaries in Illinois. News reports show that nationwide the number of disability claims grew 62% between 2000 and 2004, but Social Security’s staff was 30% smaller in 2002 than in 1982.

Closer to home the Peoria, Illinois Social Security Hearing Office has from 5,000 to 7,000 cases pending at hearing stage. The numbers are staggering but I still encourage people to contact their federal legislators to discuss their Social Security Disability case and speeding up the process.

Feel free to call Dirk at 309-827-4371 to discuss your Central Illinois Social Security Disability case.

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