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TOPIC: What are the benefits of a Welfare Lawyer

What are the benefits of a Welfare Lawyer 7 years 11 months ago #32435

  • Colin Speirs
The Council Welfare rights people have advised us to get a Welfare Lawyer to help with our IB appeal.

We can't get Legal Aid, so I phoned the Council to ask what the lawyer would do for us,

The chap there said that the lawyer would write to the Doctor and any hospitals attended to ask for evidential letters.

We have started that ourselves, is the more to the lawyer than this? What benefits do they bring to an appeal?

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Re:What are the benefits of a Welfare Lawyer 7 years 11 months ago #32439

If as you say you are not entitled to legal help, welfare rights lawyers (of which there aren't many) can prove to be very expensive indeed.

The welfare rights service should be taking the case on for you, and I think it is very remiss of them to tell you to consult a potentially expensive lawyer to seek medical evidence from healthcare professionals, who in turn can charge hundreds of pounds for information.

Welfare rights lawyers will usually not represent you at an appeal hearing, as legal funding is not available for tribunals. I suspect that the most they could do for you is prepare an appeal submission at a great cost to yourself.

Is there any reason why welfare rights cannot deal with your IB appeal?

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Nothing on this board constitutes legal advice - always consult a professional about specific problems
Last Edit: by Crazydiamond.

Re:What are the benefits of a Welfare Lawyer 7 years 11 months ago #32441

First and foremost, even turning up and being represented gives you a meaningful statistical liklihood of success. That representative does not have to be a lawyer and unless there is a very fine technical point then a reasonably prepared non lawyer who knows about these appeals will be just as adequate. Evidence from GP's , hospital doctors and the like are useful, but they need to address the right questions, and that is where good advice and representation comes in handy. IF the CAB or welfare rights service cannot send anyone then use the guides on this webpage to help you understand the criteria for IB and perhaps your GP might write a supportive letter for nothing. If someone you know can represent you that would be helpful and of course any other evidence, in person or writing from people who can plausibly and honestly vouch for your difficulties.
Dont hang all hopes on a solicitor or a barrister being available to represent,. Hardly any people with tribunal hearings get those

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Re:What are the benefits of a Welfare Lawyer 7 years 11 months ago #32442

Hi Colin

Please only submit a post once; there is always a time delay before it is published on the forum.

A welfare lawyer/advisor who represents you should prepare the legal documents for your case. Although you can obtain evidence yourself a trained advisor will know exactly what questions to ask a GP to obtain relevant information to assist with an appeal. Some, but not all organizations, will represent you at the hearing itself.

Please read the appeal guides in the members' area, which explain how to lodge an appeal. There is also advice on obtaining professional advice.

Good luck

Derek

PS: CD replied while I was typing

PS: Dragon2009 must have replied while I was typing the above sentence

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Last Edit: by Derek4. Reason: added info

Re:What are the benefits of a Welfare Lawyer 7 years 11 months ago #32457

This is what is stated in the B&W ESA mental health guide regarding solicitors (although this is an IB case, the same advice applies).

Be very cautious about engaging the services of a solicitor. Solicitors may charge you for help with benefits claims and will always charge you for representation at a hearing. Before getting a solicitor to do any work for you, always ask them whether you are eligible for free help under the Legal Help scheme. If you are not, you could face a bill running into thousands of pounds for help with a benefits claim.
You also need to be aware that many solicitors have very little knowledge of welfare benefits and very few are as expert as an experienced welfare rights worker, so you need to select with care. There are 4 levels of help offered under the legal help scheme: information; general help; general help including casework; specialist help. Look for firms that offer help to at least general help including casework level and preferably to specialist level or you may find yourself being assisted by someone who has had no more than a day’s training in the entire benefits system and very little up-to-date knowledge or experience
Solicitors firms which provide Specialist help in welfare benefits should be able to help with complex matters, including making claims for benefits and producing written submissions for appeals.

I think it goes without saying that solicitors with a days training in the benefit system should not be charging for help with appeals.

The last time I used a solicitor (not benefits related) I paid £100 an hour plus VAT. Had I have been using Community Legal Service, the same solicitor would have received £50 an hour for a maximum of 10 hours. As most benefit claimants will be using CLS, and not many people would pay a solicitor thousands to win a benefit claim, I think it is unlikely that a firm of solicitors would thoroughly train their solicitors in benefit law, when selling a house pays twice as much and is probably less complexed. I think you are much better off with a welfare rights advisor.

Derek

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Re:What are the benefits of a Welfare Lawyer 7 years 11 months ago #32460

Most solicitors will not handle welfare rights work, as social security law is extremely complex and there is very little or no financial gain in order to become involved with this kind of work.

If a solicitor does take on welfare benefit cases, it is usually done on a franchise basis and is invariably undertaken by trainee solicitors or legal assistants within the practice.

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