Legal Representation Services for Social Security Claims

FicekLawOffice

Specializing in Social Security Disability

Client Testimonials

"The process was very slow and intimidating until I hired Gary and they took on everything. Then I just had to be at the meetings and the hearings. At the hearing, Gary made a motion to change the start date of my claim and won me an extra year of backpay."
Greg K. - Southeast ND

"Before I filed for disability, I contacted Ficek Law and even before becoming a client they helped by answering questions on how to file. After the first denial while still not officially a client, Ficek Law helped with the appeal. Everyone at Ficek Law always treated me with the utmost respect and that was a good feeling during this trying time."
David D. - Northeast ND

"Mr. Ficek represented me well. A very organized attorney. The process is too complicated for the ordinary person to grasp. I didn't know what to expect when I had my initial visit, but Gary put me at ease and we talked through the entire process and what I could expect to happen. He was very up front and forward about the likelihood of my receiving Social Security disability benefits. I came away feeling very confident about my case and was impressed with Gary's knowledge and professionalism."
Michael B. - SE ND

The process was great with the staff and Gary. Great team approach. They didn't waste any time. They were efficient, kind, professional, and sincere...
I was impressed with not having stress. The services were thorough, everything was done in a timely manner, the staff was supportive and knowledgeable. The price for the services was reasonable and I would highly recommend them.
Jane R. - NW Minnesota

Gary was very nice and thorough. He made sure he gathered all the info and then used that to form a case that was satisfying and winnable.
Mary O. - SE North Dakota

"From the beginning of the process Gary took the time to listen. In every contact with Gary and his staff, they were courteous and generous with their time and gave pertinent and helpful information beyond what my questions addressed. I would recommend their services without any reservations."
- Margie

"Gary has an honest caring approach. He is straight-forward in his answers and works extremely hard on your case. I was very impressed with a brief he submitted for an appeal. I was always treated with respect and understanding through the long process from Gary and his staff who are very efficient and wonderful, caring people. If it wasn't for all of the support at Ficek Law, I don't know if I could have made it through to reach a positive outcome."
- S.K. SE ND

"When I tried to apply on my own I was so intimidated and frustrated I just kept putting it off. In one appointment you guys did what I had failed to do in three weeks of trying. With my limited computer skills, it was nice to have all the help and Mary made it seem easy."
Kermit P. S.E. ND

"My husband and I found our experience with you (Gary Ficek) and your staff very helpful and informative. You answered a lot of our concerns and made it all understandable.
Our case was covered in a timely manner with consideration to us in filing right away by the assistance of an efficient staff member to file online."
Terryl L.

5 Myths of The Social Security Program

Myth #1 The process for Obtaining Social Security Disability Benefits is Non-Adversarial

While it is true that an attorney is usually not assigned by Social Security to represent its interests at the administrative law levels, all claims are subject to a thorough searching review by SSA. At the first two levels of the process, decisions are made by SSA employees who typically do not hold a law degree and typically do not interview the applicant in person. They deny a large majority of all claims.

At the third level of the administrative claims and appeals process, a hearing is held before an Administrative Law Judge. The ALJ does hold a law degree and ALJs have a union that continually fights to try to maintain their independence from SSA. Nevertheless, they are SSA employees and are subject to constant pressures to produce a large number of decisions each month. At various times SSA has instituted programs to review the work of ALJs who were seemingly too lenient on claimants and SSA’s own Appeals Council retains the right to review all decisions of the ALJs for possible remand and revision.

In the setting of the hearing before the Administrative Law Judge, the ALJ has the role of the impartial decision maker. But the ALJ will in most cases direct questions to claimants to determine their entitlement or eligibility for the programs that are sophisticated, subtle and potential traps for the unwary.

Myth #2 You Don’t Need an Attorney at the Hearing Before the Administrative Law Judge Stage, You Need an Advocate

Persons who seek to represent claimants for disability who lack a law degree often call themselves advocates. There is no minimum educational requirements before a person can represent themselves as an Advocate. SSA, which calls its process non-adversarial, allows anyone to represent a claimant at the hearing before the Administrative Law Judge and throughout the administrative process who is generally known to have a good character and reputation and is capable of giving valuable help with the claim. (Source 20 CFR Section 404.1705)

There is more going on at the administrative levels than simply letting claimants tell why they thing they are disabled. A record is being created which could be the subject of further review. Eventually cases could end up being reviewed by federal court judges. If a representative does not how a case will need to be legally argued should it go to federal court, it is difficult for the representative to create a record that maximizes the chances of success at that level.

Myth #3 Advocates are Less Expensive than Attorneys

Most attorneys representing claimants for Social Security disability benefits do so on a contingency fee percentage rate basis in most instances. The contract preferred by SSA is for a 25% percentage rate with a $6,000 fee cap. Many advocates use the same contract terms.

Myth #4 It’s Prudent to Hold Off Seeking an Attorney to Represent a Claimant Until After the Administrative Law Judge Hearing Level

The ALJ hearing level is without question the best opportunity to win the case for benefits. If a claimant’s case is lost at the ALJ hearing level, it may be difficult to find other representation for filing appeals except on an hourly rate basis. The odds lengthen after the ALJ hearing. An attorney who did not have the opportunity to win the case at the level will probably not agree to attempt to clean up a problem or appeal on a percentage rate basis.

Myth #5 Social Security Cases are Simple and No Attorney Specialization is Needed

Social Security cases are not simple. They are extremely complex and challenging. The American Bar Association has recognized Social Security Disability Advocacy as a specialized field. They have allowed standards to be set for an attorney’s designation as a specialist.

The average worth of a successfully completed claim for Social Security disability benefits is $370,000. There are additional benefits. If you had a complex medical problem you would probably seek the opinion of a physician who specialized in the field treating that problem. With this much in a disability claim potentially stake a specialist can be very helpful in increasing your chances for success.