Saturday, July 30, 2016

4 Mistakes to Avoid When Hiring a Divorce Lawyer

The importance of finding a good divorce lawyer cannot be overemphasized. Divorce attorneys are plentiful, so it's crucial that divorcing couples analyze their choices and select the person best for them. Since family law cases are extremely sensitive and everyone involved is under stress, it can be easy to make mistakes. Fortunately, it's just as easy to avoid these following mistakes when choosing a family law attorney.

Mistake 1: Hiring a Lawyer Too Late

Many couples hesitate to hire a divorce lawyer. They think once they do, everything is final and their marriage and family relationships will automatically disintegrate. In reality, it takes a year for most divorces to be finalized, and many families go on to live amicably after divorce. Divorce is filled with complicated issues such as property divisions, child custody, alimony, and so forth. You need a professional to help sort through these, and you must retain him or her as soon as possible. Find the best lawyer possible soon after you decide to divorce.

Mistake 2: Googling

Everyone relies on Google today, but search engines are not the best places to find divorce attorneys. Most people don't randomly Google physicians, local schools, or houses of worship. Instead, they ask family members, friends, and trusted colleagues. When divorcing, you should do the same. A friend or family member can give you a specific recommendation based on experience, whereas Google can only show you things like websites, degrees, and statistics.

Mistake 3: Hiring Someone With No Basic Answers

Just because a lawyer graduated from Harvard or Yale does not mean he or she is the best family law attorney for you. For example, your lawyer may have recently transitioned from corporate or criminal law and still be familiarizing himself with what divorce attorneys do. Therefore, he may not know the answers to questions such as how do you handle property divisions, or how many divorce cases has this firm settled. If the attorney can't answer your questions satisfactorily, you should move on.

Mistake 4: Hiring Someone Who Makes You Uncomfortable

Divorce attorneys become long-term fixtures in their clients' lives. Your family law attorney will be no different, so feeling comfortable around him or her is vital to a good case. Watch a prospective attorney's body language and tone of voice. Is his tone too cold? Is her body language closed (crossed arms, clenched hands, and so on)? Does the attorney seem reluctant to learn specifics about your case? If yes, you should keep looking.

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Wednesday, July 27, 2016

How to Successfully File For Social Security Disability

It can be very difficult to successfully file for social security disability benefits, but the rewards can be immense and more than worth it. If you have a condition that makes it nearly impossible for you to work, you have a legal right to some form of help. Even if you haven't ever worked--for any reason--you are still eligible. There is no shame in being unable to work.

Want to know how to successfully file? Read on.

You can easily review the eligibility requirements for social security benefits online, at SSA.Gov, the government site for all forms of social security benefits. You will have to make plain why you cannot work, what disabilities you have, and any of your current income.

Fill out Application
You can obtain an application online or pick one up at a Social Security Administration office in your city or state. If you are unsure on all the details, an experienced disability attorney can help you file. You can also ask for a health professionals help, though hiring someone is preferable because of the time involved and avoiding mistakes.

Gather Documents
You now need to prove you're disabled. This can and should include any medical documents proving your disability. For example, if you have a mental disorder, you would get prove from your doctor, who could show your diagnosis. As long as you have a doctor, have been diagnosed clearly, you should have no problems.

Gather Income
Papers Showing income can be much harder than proving a disability. For disability, your doctor can make the process simple. With some professional help, gathering proof of income can be much easier. You will need to show any income for the past 15 years, as well as any pay stubs within the last year. If you have a spouse, you will need to show his or her income as well.

Submit Application
Once you've filled out the application, gathered medical and income documents, you can file with the local Social Security office. Every state has them, and most cities do too. Your next step will be to wait for a response from the SSA. They will mail you a letter explaining appointment dates and what to bring. If you failed to show enough documentation, they will ask for that to be cleared up first.

Attend Appointments to Get it Done
Once you've shown the correct documentation, mailed in your application, you can meet with a Social Security caseworker. Be sure to make all your appointments for best service. They will ask for you to meet with their doctors to prove your disability, clear up any questions, and hopefully help you successfully file.

And Get Help
This process can be complex and cost you time. You will have to wait at least six months before any judgment will be made. If you are unsure of any steps, a disability attorney can be invaluable. This could be a life changing event, and making sure you get it right is worth investing the money.

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Sunday, July 24, 2016

Five Questions To Ask Divorce Lawyers

Because they are desperate for guidance and direction, many divorcing spouses make the mistake of hiring the first attorney they meet. To make matters worse, they often neglect to put him/her through a proper interview. Because of this, there's a very good chance of buyer's remorse. With that in mind, here are five questions you should always ask prospective divorce lawyers.

1. Do You Specialize In Divorces?

Because family law is an enormous area of legal practice, not every family or domestic law attorney has experience with dissolution of marriage cases. He or she may focus on adoptions, domestic abuse, or parental rights and obligations. It is actually not at all uncommon for attorneys who work in this area to have little or no experience in divorce cases, particularly those that go to trial. That is why you should always ask them how many of these cases they have personally handled.

2. How Long Will My Case Take?

Although it is impossible for them to give you an exact date, experienced lawyers should be able to give you a fairly accurate timeframe based on past cases that were similar to your own. This information can also help you determine how hard a legal representative will work to get the matter settled. As a general rule, those with smaller caseloads should be able to devote more time to your claim, which should help speed things along a bit. With that said, it is important to remember that initial time estimates are just that, estimates.

3. Will Anyone Else Be Working On My Case?

There are two reasons you should always ask this question. The first is that it lets you know if there are any other legal professionals you can speak to if the lead attorney is busy. And the second is that there are usually separate charges when paralegals and law clerks are used in researching or preparing a claim. If you can afford the added fees, an extra pair of eyes is generally a good thing on a dissolution of marriage petition.

4. What Is Your Fee?

It might seem incredible, but some clients do not ask their lawyers what they charge before they hire them. This hourly fee can range from a couple hundred to well over a thousand dollars. And since cases can last for several months, it is important to do the math in advance to make certain you can afford their services.

5. What Are My Options?

Generally speaking, there are three ways to resolve a divorce. If you and your ex are on good terms, you might agree to simply split everything right down the middle. In these rather rare cases, lawyers can help both sides complete and file the necessary paperwork. The second, more common option is mediation. Often used by soon-to-be ex-spouses who are still on speaking terms, this legal process helps them arrive at an equitable arrangement in short order. The final, most costly option is to actually go to court. As the client, you want an attorney who will not only explain each of these options, but also explore them to ensure a speedy, less painful resolution.

Use these five questions to find an attorney who will give you the advice and guidance you need during a difficult time.

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Thursday, July 21, 2016

Information is Key to Locating the Best Workers Compensation Attorneys For Your Case

In the unfortunate event that an accident happens on the job and you are injured, you may be entitled to pursue workers compensation to help pay for medical care and lost wages as a result of your injury. When you begin seeking a claim, information is everything. You will need to research information on attorneys in your area. Additionally, you will also have to compile all your personal information for your case including medical records, copies of emails and letters relating to your injury, and correspondence with your attorneys. It is vital to have all this information to properly process a claim. But first, you must notify your employer and then start searching out lawyers who can take your case.

The law requires that an injured worker notify his employer no later than 120 days after the accident. Once the employer is notified, the employee should seek out workers compensation attorneys to help with the legal channels associated with claims.

Identifying the right lawyers to handle your claim is important, as you want local attorneys who are knowledgeable about all aspects of the law, and who can work with your employer to file a proper claim. Interviewing attorneys can be laborious and time-consuming so it is important to have a list of questions ready for any potential lawyers before making contact. There are lots of lawyers in your area, not all of them specializing in workers compensation. Be sure the attorneys you contact have plenty of experience with workers compensation cases. You may wish to ask for education and experience references to see if the attorneys have worked in your area previously, or if they received training in another state or city. Ask how your potential lawyers handle difficult cases and what kinds of fees are charged. Look for attorneys who have experience specializing in workers compensation and are familiar with the government regulations.

Once you've selected your attorneys the work on your case truly begins. You will need to meet with your attorneys, either at their local offices or at satellite office, and begin filling out the large amount of paperwork associated with claims. Your lawyer will obtain copies of your medical records pertaining to your injury, but you should bring any correspondence from your doctors and employers, and employment information. All this information is necessary for your attorneys to properly file a claim and secure the benefits due for your injuries.

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Monday, July 18, 2016

Common Questions and Answers About Family Law

Also known as matrimonial law, family law is an area of legal practice that deals with domestic subjects, including marriage, civil unions, guardianship, adoption, child custody, domestic violence, restraining orders, and more. Because these matters are usually kept quiet for the good of all parties involved, the average person has many questions when they visit a family lawyer for the first time. Here are the most common questions attorneys answer on a regular basis.

What is the Difference Between Divorce and Annulment?

Although both can be used to dissolve a marriage, there are important legal distinctions between the two. The most obvious is that an annulment treats the marriage as if it never happened. As such, neither party is subject to any penalties, contracts, or agreements that might normally accompany a dissolution of marriage. Fraud, forced consent, and underage marriage are the most common grounds family law attorneys use for seeking an annulment.

How is Child Custody Established?

If the former couple cannot agree on primary guardianship, a court will make the decision for them based on what is in the best interests of the child. At that point, the couple may discuss visitation privileges and come to an agreement, or the court set a schedule for them.

What is Child Support?

Because caring for a child can be expensive, the court may order a parent to pay a certain amount of money to the spouse who retains primary custody on a monthly basis. These payments may be used to cover the following expenses:

- Clothing, food, and shelter

- Medical care

- Educational needs

What is Alimony?

Also known as spousal support, alimony is a means of financial assistance that is paid from one spouse to another during or after a divorce. In most cases, it is ordered by a court when one spouse is substantially dependent on the other for maintenance and support. For example, alimony is often ordered when the spouse who stayed home with the children must go back to work after a long absence. Because that spouse may not have the work history and/or skills to support themselves in the manner they've become accustomed to, alimony may be ordered to help them make up the difference after separation or divorce.

What is Mediation?

Because filing for divorce can be an extremely lengthy, expensive legal process, many couples choose family law mediation instead. A simple, surprisingly effective method of resolving disputes, mediation puts the two parties together to discuss an amicable settlement. Although lawyers may be involved in the process, it is really the third-party mediator that gets the sides talking. When successful, this dispassionate interlocutor can save couples huge amounts of money on legal fees.

Do I Need a Lawyer?

Stress, emotion, and uncertainty about the future make family law cases extremely difficult to get through. An experienced attorney can help explain your legal rights and protect your interests both in and out of the courtroom. Whether you are fighting for custody of your kids or filing a restraining order against an ex, a seasoned attorney can lend a hand during a stressful, confusing time.

Now that you have answers to these common questions, you can decide for yourself if you require assistance from a family lawyer.

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Friday, July 15, 2016

Hire a Workers Compensation Attorney

There are many times when it is necessary to hire a workers compensation attorney. The process of getting the funds you deserve from this type of establishment can be challenging, but the program is in place to provide you with what you deserve. There are many steps involved and it is quite possible for you to be told you simply do not qualify for any type of funds. When you are facing frustrations about your case, it is necessary to hire a lawyer to help you to get through the process. One of the best decisions you make for your future could be this.

Why You Need One

The process of working through these types of claims is not easy. The state's Bureau of Workers Compensation is put in place to work much like an insurance policy. When an employee is injured on the job, the employer files a claim with this agency, which in turn verifies the information and pays for the medical needs of that individual. However, there are specific steps and qualifications you must meet in order to get the results you want.

Because there are many cases in which these claims are turned down or are more complex, it is best to work with a workers compensation attorney from the start if you are not getting the support you need.

A lawyer can help you better to understand what you should be filing your claim for and what may not be possible to receive care from based on the facts of your case.
The lawyers will help you to determine why you were unable to get your claim processed the first time. He or she can also help you through the process of appealing a decision.
If you are dealing with an incident with your employer, it may be important for you to hire a lawyer to help you to battle the non-compliance of the employer. This is against the law, but many instances occur in which people do not get the results they need because of the employer's non-compliance.

A workers compensation attorney should know these areas of the law very well. There are differences from one state to the next, but every state has a policy in place to protect employees. It is a good idea to discuss your case in full with these professionals in person. You may find out there is nothing you can do to get your claim but there are more cases that do receive better information. Sometimes, these attorneys will not charge you anything unless your claim is successful, too. Talk to them about your options before you miss what you deserve.

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Tuesday, July 12, 2016

5 Qualities to Look for in a Divorce Attorney

When it's time to decide on a divorce lawyer, take advantage of the free visits that most attorney's offer. Talk to several lawyers. When you're done, how does this lawyer stack up? Here are 5 things to consider.

  1. Is the Attorney Honest with You? Ask some hard questions. Is there a special asset you want to keep? Ask if it can be protected? Do you want spousal support? See if the attorney thinks it could happen. Judge the answers and compare your first visits. If any lawyer is telling you just what you want to hear, cross that firm off your list.

  2. Can the Attorney be Your Champion? Do you sense that he believes what you have to say about why you're getting a divorce and does he agree with the outcome you are seeking? You want a lawyer who is firmly on your side and ready to fight for you if necessary.

  3. Is this Attorney Knowledgeable? Ask about the attorney's experience and ready any online reviews or rankings. Be sure to ask if he has handled cases that have the same rough spots as yours and what was their outcome. You want an attorney who is knowledgeable about divorce laws in your state and one who is knowledgeable about any special issues or concerns you case might have. You also want an attorney who is looking ahead at your future and helping you plan for life after divorce with advice on anything from dealing with child custody issues to financial issues.

  4. Can the Lawyer Act and Not React? Words you don't want to hear are "let's see what the other side has to say". You want a lawyer who is willing to act on your behalf; not one who is just reacting to the demands or requests made by the opposing side. Check the attorney's reputation in the legal community. Is he or she well respected by peers and judges? That respected legal professional is who you are looking for to represent you.

  5. How Does the Lawyer Treat You? Do you feel that this attorney is ready to help you through a hard part of your life? You should feel respected and you should feel that the attorney is compassionate and ready to help. Again, ask some questions. How long will it take the attorney to respond to a phone call if you have a question? Will you meet with him or a member of his staff? Even a simple divorce is difficult and you want to find an attorney that will give you the support you need.

An experienced divorce lawyer should answer your questions and never be irritated or antagonistic because you are asking them. You want a divorce attorney who understands you, understands the issues in your divorce and will help you come out the other side ready for a new start.

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Saturday, July 9, 2016

Questions You Should Ask Yourself Before Applying For Social Security Disability Benefits

Every year the Social Security Administration (SSA) receives more than 2 million applications for Social Security Disability benefits. Of these applications, only 30 percent are approved at the initial stage of the application process. Oftentimes, initial applications are denied due to a lack of information, misunderstanding of the disability requirements or improper preparation of the evidence provided. If you are filing an application for disability benefits, understanding the requirements and what is expected of you can help increase your chances of a favorable decision. Before filing your application for Social Security benefits, ask yourself the following questions.

Do You Have Enough Work Credits?

There are two types of Social Security benefits available to disabled individuals. Social Security Disability Insurance benefits (SSDI) are for individuals who have enough work credits accumulated to qualify for disability benefits. Workers who pay into the Social Security program usually receive four credits per year. The number of credits needed to qualify for SSDI benefits will vary depending on your age and your work history.

If you do not have enough credits to qualify for SSDI benefits, you may qualify for Supplemental Security Income benefits (SSI). Supplemental Security Income is a needs-based disability program. To qualify for SSI payments your household income and assets will need to be below a certain level.

Do You Have Proper Medical Evidence?

Your medical records play the biggest role in whether or not you are qualified to receive Social Security Disability benefits. If you do not have the proper medical records, your application for disability will be denied. Get copies of your medical records before filing your disability claim and make sure those records include documentation of your disability and how it interferes with your ability to work.

Will Your Doctor Provide a Statement?

If your doctor is willing to provide a written statement attesting to the fact that your disability prevents you from working you will be much more likely to be approved for disability benefits. Discuss your plan to apply for benefits with the doctor or doctors who are treating your condition and ask them if they are willing to provide a written statement regarding your condition and how it affects your ability to perform substantial gainful work activity.

Do You Need to Get Treatment?

Some people assume that they will be more likely to get Social Security Disability benefits if they don't follow recommended treatment for their condition. Although it is true that your condition may be more severe without advised treatments, the SSA is unlikely to approve your claim for disability benefits if you do not follow recommend treatment options. The examiner will want to see how your condition responds to treatment prior to approving your Social Security Disability claim.

Do You Have to Attend the Consultative Exam?

In some cases the SSA examiner will request that you go in for a consultative exam to determine the extent of your disabling condition. Many applicants wonder if they are required to attend this exam in order to receive disability benefits. The answer to this question is yes. If you hope to receive disability payments, you will need to attend the consultative exam if one is requested.

Can I Work While Applying for Disability?

It can take months or even years to be approved for Social Security Disability benefits. Because of this, many individuals wonder if they are allowed to work while going through the Social Security Disability application process. While there is no law stating that you can not work when applying for benefits, your chances of being approved for benefits are significantly reduced if you do so. This is due to the fact that you are applying for benefits due to your inability to work. If you are working when applying for benefits, it will invalidate your reason for needing Social Security Disability payments.

Do You Need a Lawyer?

You do not need a lawyer to apply for disability. If your initial application is denied, however, it may be in your best interests to retain the services of a qualified Social Security Disability attorney. Statistics show that individuals who are represented by an attorney during the disability appeal process are more likely to receive a favorable outcome than those who are not.

Filing for disability can be a complex and confusing topic. Understanding the information above can help you in obtaining a favorable decision regarding your disability application. If, for some reason, your application for disability benefits is denied, you should consider hiring a Social Security Disability attorney to file an appeal regarding the decision.

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Thursday, July 7, 2016

Can You Amend Spousal Support When There Is a Change in Income After Divorce Is Final?

When two spouses decide to end their marriage, they need to reach a Marital Settlement Agreement (MSA) which spells out how they will divide their community assets and debts and if one spouse will receive support, and how child custody, visitation and support will be assigned if there are children involved. Spousal Support, also known as alimony, is a type of financial aid paid by one spouse to the other once the marriage has ended. It can be ordered for the spouse who has been earning less during the marriage. Laws about alimony vary from state to state, but in California, alimony is almost always awarded for long-term marriages. In a "Short-Term Marriage (One of less than ten years in length) support can last up to half of the marriage duration, so if the marriage lasted 10 years, the spouse receiving the support will usually see that support end after five years. Long-term marriages have separate guidelines. By law, spousal support in California is considered a temporary situation, not a permanent one, except in cases where one spouse is permanently disabled and will not be able to reach financial independence in his/her lifetime. In other circumstances, California judges expect the spouse receiving support to eventually become self-sustaining and financially independent.

Once the divorce decree has been issued, it is considered a permanent decision. However, the California court system allows ex-spouses to revisit their divorce agreement when there has been "a substantial and unforeseen change of circumstances" in one of the spouse's life. Several substantial circumstances can warrant a Spousal Support order to be modified and effect the amount of support an ex-spouse (payer) contributes every month after the divorce. The most common reason to request a spousal support reduction is a considerable reduction in the support payer's income. For example, if the spouse paying alimony suffers loss of income due to layoff or illness, he/she can request spousal support amount to be lowered, reflecting the diminished payer's ability to pay the original spousal support amount. On the opposite end of the spectrum, an increase in the supported spouse's income is also cause for the payer to request the original spousal support amounts to be reduced. Another factor that directly affects spousal support amounts is if the supported spouse remarries. In this case, California law is clear and states that the obligation to pay alimony automatically ends.

However, if a supported spouse is simply living with a partner in a cohabitation state, spousal support orders usually continue. The party seeking the modification must go before a Judge to state their case. It does not happen automatically.

Because obtaining a reduction or an increase in spousal support after the divorce requires ex-spouses to share information on their personal and financial situations, tensions may rise. We recommend spouses discuss alimony changes between themselves first. If they can't reach common ground, the next step is to work with an experienced family law mediator, who will encourage both parties to discuss and agree to adjust spousal support payments without the painful and costly involvement of attorneys. The mediator will discuss options available to the parties in hopes of achieving a compromise. Once the spouses reach an agreement, they simply give their written stipulation to the judge to be entered as a new court order.

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Sunday, July 3, 2016

How to Choose a Lawyer For Your Social Security Disability Case

Getting Social Security disability benefits can be a long and complicated process. You will work closely with your lawyer and her staff. Before you hire a lawyer you must do your homework. The following steps will help you find a lawyer who can best meet your needs.

1. Get as much information as you can before you talk to a lawyer. First, go to her website. Is there helpful information on the website about the process you will go through to get Social Security disability benefits? Or is the website just about the lawyer and her law firm? You want a lawyer who will share helpful information and teach you about the Social Security disability process.

2. When you call the lawyer's office, how are you treated? Is this staff rushed or do they treat you like a welcomed visitor? Are they helpful? Are they empathetic? The lawyer sets the tone for the office. How her staff treats you is a good indication of how the lawyer will treat you.

3. You should meet with the lawyer, either in person or in a telephone consult if it is too difficult for you to get to the office. Were you given a choice? You should be!

4. When you talk to the lawyer, ask about her experience handling Social Security disability cases. How long has she been handling these cases? What percent of her practice involves Social Security disability cases? Some lawyers only devote a small percentage of their time to these cases, making it difficult for them to keep up with changes in the rules and regulations. In addition, they may not be as familiar with the judges who hear, and ultimately decide, these cases. You should look for a lawyer who devotes 50% or more of her time to Social Security disability cases.

5. Ask the lawyer what her success rate is for Social Security disability cases. No lawyer wins every case and no lawyer can guarantee a specific result in your case. Each case is different and must be evaluated on its own facts. You want to ask this question to get an idea of how carefully the lawyer evaluates these cases throughout the process. Social Security disability cases are won or lost on the medical evidence. Your disability lawyer should continually evaluate the evidence to determine if she can prove that you are disabled. If the evidence does not support the claim, a good disability lawyer will tell you so and not take the case further unless additional evidence is available. You should look for an attorney with an 85% + success rate.

6. Ask the lawyer if she has any trial experience. Trial lawyers are trained to develop evidence, present it in the court room and argue the case to a judge or jury. Social Security disability cases may go to a hearing with an Administrative Law Judge. It is beneficial to have a lawyer with trial experience representing you in these cases.

7. Ask the lawyer if she has any medical or nursing training. Social Security disability cases are won or lost on the medical evidence and the evidence of physical or psychological limitations. A lawyer with medical knowledge will understand your disabling condition and be in a better position to develop the evidence and present it to the judge.

8. Ask the attorney how she will develop your case. You want to know that your lawyer will gather your pertinent medical records throughout the process, not just before your hearing with an Administrative Law Judge. In addition, your lawyer should collect specific information from your treating doctors about the limitations that prevent you from working. Your lawyer will do this through the use of special disability reports and disease questionnaires. These reports will help to strengthen your case. If the lawyer you interview is not going to take these additional steps to gather evidence, you should keep looking.

9. Ask the lawyer why she chose to work on Social Security disability cases. The answer to this question is very telling. For me, helping clients get their disability benefits is one of the greatest joys in practicing law. I know that my staff and I can make a difference in our clients' lives. Clients come into my office troubled, frustrated, worried and in pain. We work through the process together and there is no better feeling than calling a client to report that they have been approved for Social Security disability benefits.

10. Ask the lawyer who will be working on your case. The lawyer should have staff to help gather your medical records and develop the evidence. Social Security disability cases are document intensive. It is important that there is sufficient staff to obtain, maintain and file all of the necessary documents.

11. How are you treated by the lawyer? Do you feel welcomed or do you feel like a number? Ask who you can talk to if you have questions as the case develops. When can you expect a return phone call? Phone calls should be answered within 24 hours. While the attorney will not be able to return every phone call herself there should be sufficient staff available to answer your questions.

12. Do you feel comfortable with the lawyer and her staff? You are entering a long-term relationship so you must feel comfortable. During the initial consultation, were your questions answered? Were you treated with respect? Was the Social Security disability process described and explained to your satisfaction? Were the office procedures explained? If the answer to any of these questions is no, you should keep looking.

13. What do the lawyer's clients say about her? Go to her website. Are there testimonials from former clients? Is she willing to let you contact other clients for a reference? The best way to understand how you will be treated is to talk to other clients.

For most people trying to get Social Security disability benefits, hiring a lawyer is the best thing they can do to improve their chances of winning. However, you need to have the lawyer who is right for you. Taking the time to gather the information outlined above will help you to make the right decision.

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