Designed to provide cash assistance to disabled, blind and elderly individuals who lack sufficient income to pay for basic needs such as shelter, food and clothing, Supplemental Security Income (SSI) is a Federal program upon which millions of individuals rely. However, eligibility and receipt of such benefits is by no means guaranteed, and having the right SSI attorney can make the process of securing them much easier. Below are some tips that can help anyone find a skilled Supplemental Security Income lawyer to help with their case.

SSI lawyer meeting her elderly clients to go over legal paperwork relating to their case

It should be noted that disability claimants need not have a lawyer in order to pursue benefits, those who do have formal representation tend to have greater success, particularly when it comes to hearings. Fortunately, there are some key things for which to look when seeking a qualified, competent SSI attorney.

Initial impressions matter, and reputable SSI lawyers will respond to new client inquiries with professionalism and compassion. It is important to pay close attention to the tone and demeanor of not only the attorneys at a given law office, but also the support staff assigned to deal with claimants. While it is common for an SSI law firm to be extremely busy with numerous clients, that does not mean that prompt return calls and complete responsiveness to all questions and concerns cannot be expected.

Potential SSI claimants looking to hire a lawyer to represent them through the formal benefits process should not be dissuaded if an initial inquiry is handled by someone other than an attorney. The most sought-after SSI lawyers will necessarily spend a great deal of their time handling hearings for their clients. For that reason, experienced staffers are often utilized for routine calls and questions. This should not be thought of as a poor reflection on the level of service provided.

In terms of day-to-day handling of cases, it is worth asking a potential SSI law firm how it handles client contact and status updates. Some firms assign distinct case managers to serve as the primary point of contact with clients, and that is not at all uncommon. But, it is worth asking how often case updates can be expected and what they will entail.

When interviewing prospective SSI attorneys, it is important to be wary of those who guarantee their ability to secure a given outcome. Not only is this unethical, it is also unrealistic and misleading. A solid SSI lawyer will take the time necessary to thoroughly evaluate the merits of a case and render an honest opinion of the chances of success. Not only that, they will be entirely candid about the fact that their assistance may not make things go any faster then they would if the client did not have formal representation.

Graphic representation of the SSI benefits that are available to recipients

It is entirely fair when seeking an SSI lawyer to inquire as to the rate of success a given attorney has achieved. Asking about success rates for full benefits as well as partial benefits claims is entirely appropriate. It is also worthwhile to find out how many of a prospective lawyer’s victories come after the case has reached the hearing stage.

Verification of credentials and licensing is an important part of the vetting process when it comes to selecting an SSI lawyer. It pays to ask how many years a given attorney has spent specializing in SSI law, and whether they have received any additional training in this area of the law. Choosing a practitioner who has real expertise handling SSI claims is the optimum way to maximize the likelihood of obtaining a favorable outcome.

There are certain types of SSI claims that require a further level of sophistication that not all lawyers possess. Cases involving mental illness, drug addiction and other related problems can be more difficult than more routine cases, and thus benefit from the talents of someone who has handled them before. Matters involving children’s claims involve another level of specialization that should be verified in advance.

Finally, because the success or failure of an SSI claim is of the utmost importance to any client, it is always smart to solicit personal recommendations from trusted sources and ask for references from prospective firms. Taking these steps goes a long way toward ensuring a good attorney-client match.