What is the Application Process for Social Security Disability and SSI?
How do you Win Benefits under Social Security Disability or SSI?
If I am determined disabled, how far back will Social Security pay benefits?
How do you prove your disability case if you have a mental condition?
What Can I Do to Improve My Chances of Winning Disability Benefits
Common Mistakes after Receiving a Denial of Social Security Disability or SSI Benefits
How to File for Disability - Tips for Filing
If You Get Approved For SSDI Will You Also Get Medicare?
How much does a Social Security disability attorney get paid?
Social Security Disability SSI Criteria and the Evaluation Process
How long does it take to be approved for SSI or Social Security disability?
What do you Need to Prove to Qualify for Disability Benefits?
Social Security Disability SSI and Fibromyalgia
Social Security Disability SSI and Degenerative Disc Disease
Can I Qualify For Disability and Receive Benefits based on Depression?
Answers to questions about SSD and SSI disability
What Disabilities Qualify for SSI and Social Security Disability Benefits?
Social Security Disability Status
Social Security Disability Tips — how a claim gets worked on
Social Security Disability, SSI Disability - Terms, Definitions, Concepts
Getting a Social Security Disability Representative for your case
How to prove you are disabled
and win disability benefits
Because finding experienced and competent representation can be crucial to winning a social security disability or SSI disability claim, especially for cases that will inevitably be presented to an administrative law judge at a hearing office, it is always in your best interest to find a representative who specializes in social security cases only.
This is an important distinction to make. Some lawyers handle a wide variety of cases, ranging from medical malpractice to worker's compensation to long term disability insurance claims. With all due respect to such lawyers, you do not want someone like this handling your claim. Lawyers who divide their practices between so many different areas of law seldom ever become true experts in the area of social security law and procedure. And they seldom ever develop a comparable amount of case preparation experience as compared to disability attorneys who do nothing but represent social security claimants.
For this reason (basically that you want an expert on your side, not a generalist), you will want to choose a representative who restricts his or her practice to social security representation.
How do you designate a representative for your case? Typically, the first step is to contact a representative by calling their office directly or by filling out an online form. In either case, the objective is to give the representative a chance to evaluate the basics of your case. If the representative ascertains that they can assist you and you, likewise, choose to have this individual represent your disability claim, then you will do the following:
1. You will sign an SSA-1696. This is the appointment of representative form that is used to authorize someone to represent your disability claim. Generally, the individual you have chosen to help you with your claim will supply this form to you and will simply sign and date the form. The representative will then submit this form to the social security administration. Once SSA receives this form, you will officially be represented and social security will be on notice to keep your representative fully informed regarding actions that are taken on your case. In keeping with this, when social security sends you correspondence, they will send a copy to your representative. Likewise, in deference to the fact that you have representation overseeing your claim, the social security administration will not attempt to contact you by phone without first obtaining permission from your representative.
2. You will sign a fee agreement. This form will also be returned to the social security administration after you have signed it. What does the fee agreement do? It allows your representative to receive a fee for winning your case. The fee is equal to 25 percent of your back pay, up to a certain maximum fee amount (to see the current maximum fee that is allowed for a representative, go here:SGA ).
All fee agreements have to be approved by SSA. Be sure to read your fee agreement before signing it to make sure that you are comfortable with what your representative expects to be reimbursed for. Remember: the fee for representing your case is strictly regulated by the social security administration; however, your representative can charge for other expenses in the fee agreement, such as for postage and the cost of copying records, as well as the cost of obtaining updated medical records.
3. Your representative will generally have you sign medical release forms. These include SSA-827 forms which are the medical release forms used by social security to obtain medical records from your medical treatment providers. Very often as well, your representative will also have you sign their own medical release forms so they can also obtain copies of your records (usually this is done to prepare for a disability hearing).
Part 2: What does a Social Security Disability Lawyer or Representative do for your claim?
Return to: SSDRC, or the Questions, Answers, Tips, and Advice page
Topics and Questions
SSD and SSI are Federal Programs
The title II Social Security Disability and title 16 SSI Disability programs operate under federal guidelines and, therefore, the program requirements--medical and non-medical--apply to all states:
Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Indiana, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin, Wyoming
Recent approval and denial statistics for various states can be viewed here:
Social Security Disability, SSI Approval and Denial Statistics by state
Special Section: Disability Lawyers and unnecessary claim denials