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How Can Lawrence & Associates Help Me If Another Lawyer Drops My Disability Claim?

Posted on Tuesday, August 30th, 2016 at 3:10 pm    

The following post is part of our Law Student Blog Writing Project, and is authored by James Haney, a Juris Doctor student at NKU Chase College of Law, Northern Kentucky University.

It is always interesting when seemingly unrelated topics can be brought together to make a point, through some less than obvious comparison. With that in mind, consider the free agency period in any sport. For those unfamiliar, this is the time during the offseason in which teams make offers to players who are no longer under contract in order to entice the player to come play for them. With millions of dollars on the table for the player, and even more on the line when considering the success of the team, finding the right match is important. A team wants a player who will add not only talent to the team, but also work ethic, tenacity, teamwork, and a desire to win. The player is looking to join a team for the right price, as well as putting themselves in the best position to succeed.

Choosing your lawyer is no different.

Attorneys are often seen somewhat as lawyers first, and people second. That is to say, aside from the few famous names, most attorneys are seen as being comparable, if not the same, as any other. Any old name will do. Like with any profession, though, this is far from the case. In choosing a lawyer, one is hiring someone in whose hands they will place their very life. This becomes of great issue, very specifically, during claims for Social Security.

medical-781422_640As with any legal process, requesting Social Security consideration is a lengthy and labor intensive process. This is particularly true if an applicant has been denied at both the initial applications, as well as the Request for Consideration phases. Once denied at both levels, a claimant must begin a hearing with an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ). In Cincinnati, the regional office in this area, the average wait time from request to hearing is something around twenty (20) months. For a person in need of Social Security, twenty months is a very long time.

Unfortunately, attorneys will sometimes drop clients during this time. This can even happen within only a few months of the hearing.

The hearing stage is the most complex and time consuming for an attorney. After years of filling in forms and sending records, the attorney must now know a claimant’s records inside and out and begin to apply solid statutory and case law to the issues. A good attorney will write detailed briefs on behalf of the client, outlining the facts of the case, and steering the narrative for the judge in a favorable direction, acting as the chief representative of the client in a time of great uncertainty and stress.

Regardless of how strong or weak a case may be, an attorney may deem that the time and effort required during the hearing phase does not balance out with the potential benefit. This is not necessarily due to any issues with the attorney, the case, or the client, but is rather, more often, a result of the culmination of various factors between the three.

Due to the rigorous nature of the field of Social Security Disability, it is very important to choose an attorney who practices in the field regularly, as opposed to one who handles the odd case here and there on the side. An attorney whose focus is in the area is much more likely to see the entire process through, as they will be familiar with the system, and prepared for any eventuality that may arise.

Think of it from a personal perspective: are you more likely to do well in something you know and are passionate about, or in something you were assigned off the reservation by your boss whom you already aren’t particularly fond of? This becomes even more true if the process becomes more complex than originally anticipated.

In the unfortunate event that your attorney drops you during the hearing phase, it is of utmost importance to act quickly, as whomever replaces your previous attorney will have a lot of catching up to do, but only a little time to do it. Contact a new disability attorney immediately, and secure representation.

It is also important to not allow Social Security representatives to set a hearing for you during a period when you do not have representation. When Social Security calls to schedule a hearing, if you are at the time without representation by an attorney, you should do one of two things: 1) ask them to schedule for several months out, or 2) refuse to schedule until you have attained representation.

If you are already scheduled for a hearing when your attorney drops you and you do not have time to find a new attorney, go to the hearing and immediately explain the situation to the judge. If the judge is made aware, in a timely manner, that you do not feel capable of representing yourself, and that you need more time to obtain representation, they are almost certain to grant your request. Remember, the judge is there to ensure that the legal system is upheld correctly, and that justice is sought. It would be considered unjust by most to deny a person an opportunity to be represented in such a tumultuous time.

When you finally meet with your new attorney, it is important to get them up to speed as quickly as possible. Be sure to explain that a hearing could be imminent so they will be able to take the necessary steps. Your new attorney will get access to your Social Security file promptly and begin preparing for the hearing. It is always a good idea to get your medical records straightened out, as well. The easier your attorney’s job is, the more likely you are to win.

An attorney and the client are a team; they come together with a common goal, in order to be successful. Such is the case with any team, working together is highly important. Choose your team wisely, and be a good teammate. Doing that will set you both up for the best chance of success.


The Injured Plaintiff’s Bankruptcy — Pitfalls for the Civil Litigator

Posted on Friday, June 24th, 2016 at 11:21 am    

Justin Lawrence recently wrote an article for the Advocate, Kentucky’s trial lawyer community’s premier publication, about what needs to be done when a person who is injured by an automobile accident, slip and fall, or workplace injury files for bankruptcy while their lawsuit is still pending.

Justin regularly advises other attorneys on the best course of action to take when personal injury, workers’ compensation, social security disability, and bankruptcy claims come together, so injured men and women get the best results possible.

Click here to read his article on the injured plaintiff’s bankruptcy.


Does a Back Injury Qualify You for Social Security Disability Benefits?

Posted on Monday, August 10th, 2015 at 2:40 pm    

A spinal disorder can cause chronic back pain and limited mobility. Northern Kentucky and Cincinnati residents with a spinal disorder may be eligible for disability benefits. Figuring out whether your back pain qualifies you for social security disability requires a multi-step process. The most important step is the determination of whether or not your back pain meets a “listing” as determined by the Social Security Administration.

What Are the Most Common Back and Spine Conditions that Lead to Disability?

backpainIn the Greater Cincinnati area, the most common spine disorder diagnoses that lead to back pain are:

  • Osteoarthritis
  • Degenerative disc disease
  • Herniated Discs
  • Osteoporosis
  • Tumor
  • Arachnoiditis
  • Sprain or strain
  • Spondylolisthesis
  • Spinal stenosis (narrowing of the canals through which nerve roots travel)
  • Scoliosis (abnormal curvature of the spine)
  • Kyphosis
  • Osteomyelitis (bony growths on the spine)

Northern Kentucky residents with one of these conditions should keep in mind that many of them are the natural process of aging, so there is no need to prove that you were hurt in an accident in order to get disability benefits. Also, bear in mind that the condition causing your pain has to show that the condition and its debilitating symptoms are going to last more than one year. Thus, a lumbar sprain is less likely than a herniated disc to result in disability benefits. Sprains resolve over time, while herniated discs do not. If you have one of these conditions, please call Lawrence & Associates’ Northern Kentucky office or read more from this resource.

How Can an Attorney Help Me Get Disability for Back Pain?

There are three main ways that an attorney can help get disability. The first is by proving that you meet a listing for spine disorders under the Social Security Administration’s regulations. If you do, then you get benefits. Meeting a listing usually is not straightforward, and requires interpretation of both your medical records and the applicable law.
If you do not qualify for a listing, you can still get benefits if your residual functional capacity. Again, this requires a medical, and sometimes an expert, opinion that is best solicited from a doctor or vocational expert and filed by an attorney. It also requires an in-depth knowledge of the rules and regulations promulgated by the Social Security Administration, and it is best to have an experienced attorney research and argue these issues to the Administrative Law Judge.

At Lawrence & Associates, we help Northern Kentucky and Cincinnati residents just like you get disability every day. We are Working Hard for the Working Class, and we can help you. Call us today!


What Are My Chances of Being Granted Social Security Disability?

Posted on Monday, July 13th, 2015 at 1:50 pm    

ss-disabilityThe Social Security Administration keeps very good records regarding the ratio of total filers for social security disability and the total number of people that are successful. The story this number tells is not pretty. Between 2003 and 2014, only 24% of applicants were granted disability on the initial application. Even after appealing to a hearing with an Administrative Law Judge (an ALJ), only 41% of applicants nation-wide are granted disability. Although people often think that the disability system is abused, with undeserving people receiving disability, those abuses mostly ended over ten years ago. In fact, the rate of fraud is relatively low and most fraud is committed by people with actual injuries that are working on the side, rather than people who are not hurt at all but also are not working. Today it is statistically more likely than not that an applicant will never receive a disability payment!

How Can I Maximize My Chances of Receiving Social Security Disability?

First, getting the right attorney can drastically increase your chances, although getting a lackluster attorney won’t help you much. Although it’s rude to brag, at Lawrence & Associates we can statistically say that our approval ratio far exceeds the averages set forth above – in fact, our attorneys’ approval ratio is in excess of 90% approvals over the ten-year lifetime of the firm at the time of this writing. So we encourage everyone to seek counsel but to research the lawyer they hire before signing a representation agreement. (Our bar association requires us to say that all cases are different and there is no guarantee of victory, so the mere fact that we have a 90% approval ratio does not mean your particular case has a 90% chance of success.)

Another way to maximize your chance of approval is to enlist your treating doctor. A good treating doctor is worth his or her weight in gold during a disability hearing. A treating doctor can write a Residual Functional Capacity report for you, which can be valuable proof of disability. The doctor may also be willing to write you a letter that you can submit to the Social Security Administration that explains your medical condition and its effect on your life in better detail than you can.

Finally, the claims examiners with the Social Security Administration are trained to analyze a “typical day” in the life of an applicant and measure by hours what the applicant can or cannot do compared to what an “average” person can or cannot do. Write a letter to the examiner breaking down your day into what you think your most important limitations are. For example, can you only stand for an hour before having to rest? Make a note of that in your 24 hour chart. Someone who has to sit down frequently for rest is less hirable than someone that can stand for long periods of time. Limitations can add to up to the point where a social security disability award seems reasonable.

Overall, Don’t Give Up

The road to disability approval often has many stages. Giving up at any particular stage means starting all over again, so don’t let things fall by the wayside! At Lawrence & Associates, we are Working Hard for the Working Class and that means helping worthy Northern Kentucky residents get the disability they paid for through years of taxes. If you need help, call us today.


How Much Work History do I Need to Have Before I Qualify for Social Security Disability?

Posted on Monday, June 8th, 2015 at 10:07 am    

Lawrence & Associates consults with many clients each week regarding potential social security disability claims. One of the most common reasons we have to reject a potential claim is a lack of work history for the disabled person. In addition to meeting the definition of disability set forth by the Social Security Administration, you also need to have enough “work credits” to form a basis for a disability payment. In this post, we’ll talk about how a work credit is measured.

calculatorSocial security work credits are based on your yearly wages or your reported self-employment income. The amount of income needed to earn a credit changes annually; in fiscal year 2015, one work credit equals $1,220 worth of wages. Of course, if you are getting paid under the table to avoid paying income taxes, you are not recording any work credits. This is one reason that it is a good idea to report all your income (in addition to the obvious fact that the law requires you to do so).

Here is a rule of thumb for whether or not you have enough credits to qualify for social security disability: You must have 40 credits, and 20 of those credits must have been earned within the past 10 years. Although younger workers can get disability with fewer credits, it is also harder to qualify as disabled when you are younger. You can find a handy chart detailing the number of credits required for any given age here: Social Security Administration Work Credit Chart

At Lawrence & Associates, we represent Kentucky and Ohio clients in all forms of social security claims, from disability to SSI claims for income benefits. We’re Working Hard for the Working Class, and we’d be proud to represent you. Call today!


Can My Social Security Disability Be Garnished by Someone I Owe? It Depends Who You Owe…

Posted on Thursday, March 26th, 2015 at 4:21 pm    

Social SecurityAt Lawrence & Associates, many of our clients come to us with garnishments already in place. Those clients are usually at the point of desperation, because a garnishment is the death sentence for the careful balance we strike with our creditors. Suddenly, instead of staying one step ahead of the bills, we are one step behind and losing more ground every day.

What Can Be Garnished?

When a judgment results in a garnishment, it’s important to know what can be garnished and what cannot. Everyone knows that a paycheck or bank account can be garnished, and that the IRS can withhold a tax refund to repay past due income taxes from a prior year. What many Northern Kentucky residents don’t realize is that social security disability checks can also be garnished under special circumstances.

Private Debt Collectors Can’t Garnish Disability Benefits But They Can Go After Bank Accounts

First, let’s start with private – as opposed to government – debts. Generally, private creditors such as credit cards or medical providers (think Capital One or St. Elizabeth Hospital) cannot garnish social security disability benefits. They can, however, garnish bank accounts that hold these benefits if the benefits are deposited by check or if the bank that holds the disability funds is also the bank you owe money to.

The U.S. Government Can Garnish a Percentage Your Social Security Disability Benefits

The amount of the garnishment depends on what kind of debt you owe. If you owe money to the IRS for back due taxes, the IRS can garnish up to 15% of your disability check. If you owe money for student loans, the government can also garnish up to 15%, although it cannot touch the first $750 of disability payments. If you owe child support or spousal support, your social security disability benefits could be garnished by as much as 50% to 65%!

Chapter 13 Bankruptcy Stops Private and Government Garnishment of Your Social Security Disability Benefits

In Northern Kentucky, a Chapter 13 bankruptcy is a good way around a social security disability garnishment. Even the government has to obey the automatic stay, which is the bankruptcy court’s order that requires all creditors to stop collecting their debts once a bankruptcy is filed. In a Chapter 13 bankruptcy, you can pay off non-dischargeable debts – such as student loans, taxes, or child support – over a three to five year period without those debts incurring interest or penalties in the meantime.

Contact Us (859.371.5997) for a Free Consultation

Relevant Posts


Disability Explained: What Kind of Benefits are Available Through the Social Security Administration (SSA)?

Posted on Wednesday, January 7th, 2015 at 8:41 am    

Social SecurityLawrence & Associates helps our Greater Cincinnati clients who have become disabled as a result of injury, disease, or age get the benefits they are owed by the Social Security Administration. It is important to be sure that you file for all available benefits when you first file a claim with the Social Security Administration, and hiring a knowledgeable Northern Kentucky law firm is the best way to ensure you are getting everything you deserve.

Retired Worker Benefits

The Social Security Administration pays retired worker benefits to any Greater Cincinnati or Northern Kentucky citizens that worked for long enough to be covered by social security and who have reached at least age 62 (for partial benefits) or age 70 (for full benefits).  These benefits are also available to the minor children of a retired worker if the child is either a) under the age of eighteen, b) under the age of nineteen and in high school, or c) disabled before age twenty-two.  Finally, these benefits are available to the spouse of a retired worker if the spouse is age 62, if the spouse has a minor child in his or her care, or if the marriage lasted at least ten years (in the case of a former spouse).

Survivor Benefits

The Social Security Administration also pays survivor benefits to any Greater Cincinnati or Northern Kentucky citizens that is the child, widow(er), or parent of a deceased worker.  A child applying for these benefits must meet one of the three criteria for a minor child described in the paragraph above.  A parent must be at least age 62 and must be able to prove that he or she relied on the deceased worker for support.  A widow(er) must be either a) at least 62 years old, b) at least 50 years old and disabled themselves, or c) have a child under age 16 or a disabled child in his or her care.

Disabled Worker Benefits

The most common type of Social Security benefit to require an attorney’s services is the Disabled Worker Benefit, also known as SSDI or DIB.  However, also be aware that the child or spouse of a disabled worker can get benefits under this chapter so long as they meet the criteria described above.
>> More About Disabled Work Benefits/SSDI/DIB Application Process

Supplemental Security Income Benefits

The Social Security Administration offers benefits under Supplemental Security Income, also known as SSI.  This is needs based income for the aged, blind, or disabled. Although any Greater Cincinnati or Northern Kentucky citizen is eligible to apply for this, it is commonly seen hand-in-hand with Social Security Disability benefits. In order to get SSI, a single individual cannot have more than $2,000 in resources, and a married individual cannot have more than $3,000 in resources.
>> Social Security Disability Overview

A Strong Advocate For Your Right to Recover Benefits

Lawrence & Associates will be your strong advocate in the social security system, standing up for your right to recover the benefits you’ve paid into for so long. The process for filing for social security disability is long and complicated, but with a strong advocate you will have a much higher chance of success. Our Northern Kentucky Social Security Disability attorneys will keep you informed of the progress in your case and return your calls as soon as possible. We hope you’ll choose us to represent you!

Other Posts in this Series

[posts type=”category” name=”Disability Explained Series” limit=”4″ date=”m-d-Y”]

Contact Us (859.371.5997) for a Free Consultation


Disability Explained: Have You Been Disabled as a Result of Injury, Disease, or Age? You May Be Eligible for Social Security Disability Benefits

Posted on Friday, December 19th, 2014 at 4:06 pm    

Social Security DisabilityThe Social Security Administration offers many kinds of benefits. Lawrence & Associates helps our Greater Cincinnati clients who have become disabled as a result of injury, disease, or age get the benefits they are owed by the Social Security Administration. The two most common types of benefits are Social Security Disability Benefits (also called DIB, SSDI or Title II benefits) and Supplemental Security Income (also called SSI or Title XVI benefits). It is important to be sure that you file for all available benefits when you first file a claim with the Social Security Administration, and hiring a knowledgeable Northern Kentucky law firm is the best way to ensure you are getting everything you deserve.

Attorney Fees Don’t Have to be Paid Out of Pocket

It’s important to know that your social security disability attorney does not have to be paid out of pocket for his or her services. Instead, attorneys in Northern Kentucky receive 25% of your back pay from your Social Security award, usually up to a $6,000.00 limit. This is important because it gives the disabled the ability to hire an attorney to maximize their chances of success, and it ensures that the disabled will not owe an attorney money if the claim is not successful for some reason. An attorney can file a petition with the Social Security Administration for more than a $6,000 fee if a claim involves multiple hearings or appeals, but in practice this is rare.

Conditions Eligible for Disability Vary Widely

The types of conditions that are eligible for disability vary widely, and can include anything from cancer to Down’s Syndrome to orthopedic injuries. In the Greater Cincinnati area, the most common reasons to get disability tend to be: back and spinal injuries, vision loss or blindness, diabetic related conditions, loss of use of an arm or leg, anxiety, depression, and arthritis. You cannot get disability if you are still working, even if you are working in a limited capacity or with work restrictions approved by your doctor and employer.

A Strong Advocate For Your Right to Recover Benefits

Lawrence & Associates will be your strong advocate in the social security system, standing up for your right to recover the benefits you’ve paid into for so long. The process for filing for social security disability is long and complicated, but with a strong advocate you will have a much higher chance of success. Our Northern Kentucky Social Security Disability attorneys will keep you informed of the progress in your case and return your calls as soon as possible. We hope you’ll choose us to represent you!

Other Posts in this Series

[posts type=”category” name=”Disability Explained Series” limit=”4″ date=”m-d-Y”]

Contact Us (859.371.5997) for a Free Consultation

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