Five Questions to Ask Your Social Security Disability Attorney Before You Hire Them

Disability is never a welcome thought for anyone. But sometimes life plays dirty and you are left with no choice but to soldier on. How you deal with the situation plays a crucial role in your future. Fortunately for some, there are options to look into, especially if you have Social Security insurance.

But filing for a disability claim is not an easy task. And this is where the role of a Social Security Disability attorney comes to play. Your attorney will be the person you partner with on this journey, so it is important that you find one that is not only competent but also someone you are comfortable with. To help you with the first step of this process, here are five questions to ask your Social Security Disability attorney before you hire them:

#1 Was this attorney successful in a previous Social Security Disability claim?

Lawyers are trained to talk in a way that sounds favorable to them. But their track record speaks for itself. So do not allow the attorney to sweet talk his way into taking your case just yet, especially if you are still unsure about it.

If the attorney you are speaking with has not handled a Social Security Disability case before, that is a red flag. More so if he has handled previous cases but did not win them. The thought of not being able to work for a long time is already difficult as it is. You also would not want to risk going through the entire ordeal and not have a shot at winning. It is not being a snob or too picky. Just think of it as making the right investment. Your attorney is getting a chunk of your back pay after all.

#2 How will this attorney collect your medical evidence?

The medical evidence that will be presented in your case is an essential part of the entire argument. Your disability claim relies on your attorney being able to present strong and valid evidence that will prove why you are entitled to the Social Security Disability claim and how much you are entitled to get.

During your consultation, do not be shy to ask how your would-be attorney intends to collect your medical evidence and present it in court on your behalf. The attorney should be able to explain from the get-go how you would go about the process of additional testing that may be required by the Social Security Administration (SSA). He should also have concrete plans on how to decide which doctors can give statements proving your functional limitations and which medical records are relevant for the case.

#3 How does this attorney plan to prepare you for the hearing?

The date of your hearing is out of your’ and your attorney’s control. The court schedules it and the only thing you can do when you reach this point is to make sure that you come to the hearing prepared. Your legal counsel also plays a vital role in gearing you up for the hearing.

Ask the attorney how he intends to prepare you for the hearing. Although it’s normal that assistants and paralegals are the first ones you meet with before the hearing is set, it is very important that your attorney has plans for you after all the necessary documents are filed and gathered as this is usually the job of the clerical staff.

Your attorney may suggest speaking with you on the phone before the hearing, but you can also ask to meet in person if that works better for you. But before you decide to get legal services, the attorney should be able to answer questions about his plans for the hearing because you cannot be left in the dark during the process.

#4 How will this attorney argue your case before the administrative law judge?

Here comes the hard part – the actual hearing process. While there are instances where cases are resolved without the claimants being required to attend hearings, which is not often the case. This is also why you should be prepared with sufficient documents and supporting statements to prove your claim.

Prior to signing a contract with a legal representative, inquire about his process in forming an argument. Of course, it may not be as comprehensive as you would want the explanation to be since you have not started on anything yet. But at least ask the attorney to give you an overview of how your case can best be presented in court so you know what to expect and prepare for. The attorney should be able to tell you how he plans to prove your condition meets the disability listing, that your physical limitations prevent you from working, or that your condition hinders you from performing sedentary jobs.

#5 What are your chances of winning the case?

Truth be told, this is probably the first thing you would want to know during your consultation. But to give yourself some peace of mind, feel free to ask about your chances of winning the case and being compensated for your disability. Knowing the odds can help you and your counsel prepare better for what is yet to come so you do not get blindsided.

But you should not be discouraged if the attorney tells you it is going to be difficult because if there is anyone who wants to win the case other than you, that is going to be your attorney. Besides, a good Social Security Disability lawyer does not solely rely on the winning percentage. They trust in the evidence, your statements, the statements of professionals, and their skills.

Before agreeing to contract the services of an attorney to help in your Social Security Disability case, make sure you have asked all the questions you want to ask. You would not want to be changing your mind about your legal counsel once all the necessary documents have already been filed and the court hearing has been set.

Ghitterman, Ghitterman & Feld have protected the rights of injured and disabled California workers for 64 years. If you or anyone you know needs a Social Security Disability attorney, contact them or visit their website at

Ghitterman, Ghitterman and Feld

Why You Should Consider Solving Your Issues or Disputes Through the Mediation Process

Mediation is an effective alternative form of dispute resolution. It focuses on helping the parties align their interests and resolve their dispute in a manner that is satisfactory to all parties involved. Some of the most important reasons you should consider solving your issues or disputes through the mediation process are discussed below. We can further discuss the mediation process with you during a confidential consultation.

Mediation Avoids the Expensive Litigation Process
Mediation is an alternative to the litigation process. When you confront a business dispute and move toward litigation, you and your business partner or contractor may become adversaries. You each hire your own lawyers who speak on your behalf. You have no contact with the other party and make claims and counterclaims against each other. Each legal filing increases the cost of this process.

Any lawyer can tell you that litigation is expensive. In addition to hefty attorney’s fees, you also have court costs, discovery costs, expert witness fees and other costs to contend with. Additionally, you will lose time away from your business to appear at court hearings, depositions and meetings with your lawyer.

There is no guarantee that after paying all of these costs that you will actually get the outcome that you want. You may lose in court. Even if you win, you then have to worry about enforcing the court order which may be derailed if the other party files bankruptcy or appeals the decision, further increasing the time it takes to resolve the case.

When you choose mediation, you can avoid many of the costs associated with litigation. The earlier you take advantage of this process, the more money you can potentially save. Mediation costs can be split between the parties, further increasing your savings. An overwhelming number of cases that mediated result in settlement and avoid expensive verdicts.

Mediation is a Collaborative Process
Mediation is much different from litigation, which pits parties against each other. Mediation is a collaborative process in which the parties work together to try to solve a problem that is negatively affecting them. A skilled mediator uses effective communication techniques to improve the communication between the parties and facilitates communication. The mediator encourages the parties to resolve their dispute on their own terms and to brainstorm possible solutions to their problems.

By expertly guiding the parties through this process, a mediator provides objective information to the parties about the weaknesses of their case and the potential negative outcomes they may confront by proceeding with the litigation process. The mediator may inform the parties of similar cases that involved the same issue as the one the parties are confronting and how the court ruled against their position. Having this information can give you a more realistic idea about your case and the possible consequences.

You Can Select a Mediator with Subject Matter Expertise
One of the major advantages of mediation is that you can select a mediator who has subject matter expertise in the type of dispute that you are confronting. When you litigate a case, a random judge or jury is assigned to make the decision. They may not have any background in business, real estate or other areas that are important for a fundamental understanding of the issues involved.

David Levene is the founder of Levene Mediation. He also founded a nationally known business reorganization law firm and has more than 40 years of legal experience. He is a recognized expert in business restructuring, commercial litigation and bankruptcy. His mediation practice specializes in resolving cases involving bankruptcy, commercial, corporate, general business and real estate. He has been involved in many complex cases and has an in-depth understanding of the legal issues involved in these types of claims. By deciding to mediate your claim with David Levine, you are choosing to have an expert involved in the process.

Mediation Helps Parties Preserve Their Relationship
Mediation has successfully been used for years for people involved in business relationships. Because mediation is a collaborative process, and not an adversarial one, parties can often preserve their relationship. Parties may be able to continue a contract or stay business partners by using mediation.
At the beginning of mediation, the mediator will discuss the mediation process and lay down the ground rules. The mediator will emphasize that the parties must maintain a respectful demeanor with the other party and the mediator at all times. By emphasizing the importance of respectful communication, the mediator can often help the parties reach a mutually satisfactory agreement through effective communication and conflict resolution skills.

Many business disputes arise because of misunderstandings. The mediator can often uncover these underlying issues and clear up misunderstandings. By tackling the emotional issues and confronting the unique dynamics involved in the case, the mediator can often successfully help the parties get their relationship back on track.

Mr. Levine’s calm demeanor and his uncanny ability to establish rapport with the parties places them at ease in a way that allows them to break down common barriers to resolution. At the end of the process, the parties are often able to shake hands on an agreement and maintain a professional relationship.

Mediation Addresses Underlying Emotions
Most aspects of the legal system are not concerned with the emotional aspect of issues. Business dealings can often involve strong emotions if a business partner feels unvalued or disrespected. Employment issues may involve emotional issues stemming from staff feeling disenfranchised or unimportant. Family businesses may have years of complicated dynamics that are affecting the current business dealings.

An effective mediator will get to the bottom of disputes and address the emotional issues. By giving time and respect to these emotions, the mediator can often help the parties to develop a broader understanding of the issues and position them to better resolve them.

Mediation Is Empowering
The legal process often alienates participants. Once a party turns to the litigation process to resolve a legal issue, he or she is handing over all of their power. Mediation lets people who are directly involved in a dispute develop mutual solutions and meet their own needs and interests.

Mediation Saves Time
One of the major benefits of mediation is that it can be scheduled at any time during the dispute process. The more time the parties are disputing, the more solidified they can become in their positions. By quickly scheduling mediation at a time that is convenient to the parties and the mediator, disputes can be resolved much quicker. This saves time and money.

Mediation Is Less Formal
Going to court does not provide an easy feeling to most people. They may feel very insecure about what to say in open court, how to dress and how to present themselves, all within a very limited amount of time.

Mediation is less formal, often conducted in a conference room or private office. This environment typically puts parties at ease and helps them concentrate on the issues involved in the case instead of outward appearances.

Mediation Is Private and Confidential
Business owners must look at more than just the direct costs associated with litigation. They must also look at other costs associated with litigating issues, such as:

  • Damage to the business’ reputation
  • Damage to their own reputation
  • Loss of productivity
  • Loss of time when a project stalls out
  • Time away from work to attend meetings with lawyers, depositions and hearings
  • The toll that stress has on the business and its staff

Mediation can minimize many of these costs because it is a private process. Business owners do not have to worry about public disclosures about negative information regarding their business as they have to when going through litigation.
Additionally, mediation is confidential. Anything said during this process cannot later be used in litigation. The parties and the mediator cannot discuss what was shared during mediation. This allows the parties to communicate openly without fear of their comments later being disclosed in open court.

Mediation Focuses on Interests, Not Positions
What makes mediation unique is that it is focused on the parties’ interests, not legal positions. While the case involves legal issues, effective mediators will try to get the parties to consider what their interests are and how to meet them. For example, parties may have multiple concerns, such as:

  • Preserving a business relationship with the other party
  • Avoiding litigation costs
  • Avoiding disruption to the business
  • Getting paid for a claim in a bankruptcy case
  • Protecting the reputation of the business

These interests can often be met during the mediation process. When the parties vehemently argue their positions, they fail to consider ways that they can meet their interests. Locking into a particular position serves as a barrier to problem solving.

Mediators can encourage creative problem solving by focusing on the parties’ underlying interests. By getting the parties to consider what outcome they will be satisfied with and what their underlying interests are, an effective mediator can often help the parties reach an amicable agreement.

The Parties Control the Outcome
In litigation, the parties often give their power over to the jury. They do not directly control the outcome. They may provide testimony, but ultimately the judge or the jury will determine the outcome of the case.

The process is much different in mediation. The mediator is not a decision maker. He or she cannot impose a judgment on the parties in the same way a judge can. Instead, his or her role is to guide the parties toward settlement of their issues and to provide information about the repercussions of continued litigation. The parties retain control over the case at all times and only agree to settle their case if they are satisfied with the terms.

The Parties Can Reach Creative Solutions
Because the parties are not asking the court for redress, they have many more options regarding how to resolve their dispute. They can reach any legally enforceable agreement with the terms of their choosing.

Mr. Levene has a reputation of being a creative problem solver who is adept at bringing parties together to reach agreed solutions. He can encourage the parties to consider creative solutions that serve their mutual interests. For example, the parties may agree to modify a contract, terminate a contract or create a new contract with more favorable terms.

In other situations, the parties may agree to do future business together or use a third party of their choosing. There may be multiple legal issues involved in the dispute. The parties may agree to a package deal that addresses many of these issues, such as adjusting the price, payment method, penalties for nonpayment, delivery timelines, and other terms.

In other situations, the parties may be better served by unbundling these issues. By attacking one issue at a time, the parties may benefit from the momentum and reach solutions with which they are both satisfied.

The Parties Are More Likely to Adhere to the Agreement
Because the parties are an integral part of crafting solutions to the issues plaguing them, they are more likely to adhere to the terms they reach. This helps prevent problems in the future and litigation costs to try to force the party to adhere to the terms of the agreement.

Mediation Provides a Model to Resolve Problems in the Future
After parties have successfully resolved their issue through mediation, they are more likely to turn to this process to resolve any future problems. They may also use the skills that they learned during this process to have better communication and quickly resolve problems that crop up.

Contact an Experienced Mediator to Resolve Your Dispute
Mediation is an effective alternative to litigation. It provides businesspeople with a cost-effective option to resolve legal disputes and preserve their relationship with others. It also provides privacy, confidentiality and enhanced communication. Because it also saves time and money, it should be on the short list of options to consider when confronting a dispute. Mediation is easy to schedule. Levene Mediation can help you resolve your dispute. Call us at (310) 229-3310 to schedule your mediation.

David Levene

Process of Mediating Long-Term Care Issues

For many of us, long-term care becomes necessary after a certain point. This is often treated as a last resort. Once the difficult decision is made to have a loved one admitted to a long-term care facility, other issues may arise between the family, resident and long-term care facility. Many long-term care facilities use mediation as an effective way to avoid litigation.

During mediation, the parties work together to try to arrive at a mutually agreeable solution. The mediator uses conflict resolution skills to enhance the communication between the parties. If the problem is particularly acrimonious, the mediator may separate the parties and filter the communication between them. The parties are encouraged to brainstorm solutions to the problem.

Because the mediator is chosen because of his or her subject matter expertise, the mediator will also have useful information to share with the parties that can help them better understand their case. He or she can point to recent case rulings or a similar case he or she presented, pointing out the weaknesses in the position.

The mediator serves as a facilitator between the parties, urging them to realize their own interests and reach an amicable agreement. If the parties agree to settle their case, the mediator provides a written contract that sets out the terms of their agreement. The contract can be enforced as a typical contract. If the case had already been filed in court, the agreement can be presented to the judge and made into a judicial order.

Overview of Wrongful Death Mediation

Mourning Woman at Funeral with coffinMediation is an important part of the litigation process and can actually help lead to an agreed-upon settlement so that the case is more quickly resolved.  It can also be a more personal experience that allows loved ones to honor the decedent and approach the case from a point of dignity and compassion.

Purpose of Mediation

Mediation is a form of alternative dispute resolution that is designed to help the parties settle their case to avoid the negative consequences of litigation.  The parties also have the opportunity to preview likely issues that may arise at trial.  This process often provides clarity to parties in dispute.

Benefits of Wrongful Death Mediation

There are numerous benefits to wrongful death mediation.  Mediation allows the parties to relate to each other on a personal level.  When insurance companies or other defendants deal with claims, these are often assigned numbers and treated as paperwork to handle.  The mediation brings parties face to face, giving a real sense of what the case is about.  Mediation also allows the parties to talk to each other.  The defendant can come to understand the important role the decedent played.  Additionally, the plaintiff can hear how sorry the defendant is and how he or she has taken steps to avoid future accidents.

Additionally, mediation can help resolve the case more quickly.  Plaintiffs in these types of cases often become

Parties at Mediation

Mediation is much different than litigation.  There are only a few people who will be present at mediation, including:

  • The parties involved in the dispute
  • The mediator – This individual is a third party neutral whose job is to help you resolve your case without further involvement with the court.
  • Insurance company representative – If insurance is involved, an insurance company representative will be present to authorize a settlement.
  • Attorneys – The plaintiff and defendant may have their attorneys present who can explain their client’s rights to him or her.