I have been practicing law for 34 years. One of the most difficult aspects of my practice is I must turn down many prospective clients who contact me. The purpose of this article is to explain the most common reasons I do not accept a case.
1. Due to a heavy caseload and pressing deadlines, I often do not have time to take on a new case. I spend a large amount of time on each and every case. I do not use a paralegal. This limits the number of cases I can accept. If I take on too many cases, then I do not have enough time to give each case the legal effort it deserves.
2. I do not think the caller is disabled. I stated in a prior blog that seeking disability should be the last resort. Some callers pursue disability as the 1st response to a medical problem, before they have fully explored medical treatment for their illness. Most medical problems can be managed with treatment and allow the individual to work.
3. I can not win the case because of the “12 month rule”. One requirement for Social Security disability is the impairment must last or be expected to last for 12 months. Sometimes an individual is completely disabled for a while but is able to return to work within 12 months from the onset of the injury or illness. SSA does not provide “short term” disability.
4. I can not win the case because the medical records do not document disability. The individual seeking disability benefits has the burden to prove disability. Medical records are necessary to prove a severe impairment. Most callers are indigent, do not have insurance and cannot afford medical treatment. I understand this. But my understanding has never won a case. I must have medical records to win a case.
5. I do not accept many cases for individuals younger than 40. Even though my career is devoted to helping impaired individuals obtain disability benefits, I believe in some cases disability benefits do more harm than good. Getting money for not working can take away a person’s motivation to get better and return to work. Earning income from work is fundamentally good. It is far more financially rewarding than drawing disability. Moreover, work promotes independence, self esteem and self worth.
6. The caller applied for disability when his/her unemployment benefits stopped. To get unemployment one must certify to the State of NC that you are able to work. To get disability one must certify to the Federal government that you can NOT work. In my opinion, an individual must either choose unemployment or disability because you can not be able to work and disabled at the same time. Many disability attorneys disagree with me on this, but this is what I believe.
There are more reasons why I decline cases. Case analysis is complex. I must make quick judgment calls with too little information and too little time.
If I decline your case, I encourage you to call the lawyer referral service of the National Organization of Social Security Claimants’ Representatives (NOSSCR) at (800) 431-2804 and get a 2nd opinion.