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
What is the Role of a Social Security Disability Representative?
How to prove you are disabled
and win disability benefits
There are different names for this role. Some individuals prefer to be known as disability advocates while the social security administration (SSA) uses the term "representative", most likely due to the fact that an applicant for SSDI (social security disability insurance) or SSI does not have to be represented by an attorney, but, instead, may choose to be represented by a non-attorney representative. On that subject, two things should be mentioned:
1. An applicant does not have to be represented at all, though this is usually unwise if the claim has progressed to the level of a disability hearing where the decision on the claim will be delivered by a federal judge.
2. Many non-attorney representatives are actually former employees of the social security administration, including former field office workers, such as claims reps (the individuals who take disability and retirement applications), former disability examiners (the individuals who make the decision on initial SSDI and SSI claims), and even former administrative law judges (the judges who hear disability cases).
Regardless of what a representative is referred to as (a disability attorney, a non-attorney rep, an advocate), all representatives perform the same function. At the most basic level, this function is to act as the contact person between the social security administration and the applicant. And this is exactly why, after SSA has been notified that a representative has been named, SSA must provide copies of all correspondence that is sent to the applicant to the representative as well. Even further than this, SSA must actually ask the representative's permission before directly communicating with the applicant, a stipulation that is designed, ideally, to protect the interests of the claimant.
However, the core responsibility of a representative for a social security disability or SSI claim is to maximize the chances of winning the claim. This is why representatives often review the claimant's file prior to the request for a hearing (to get an idea of where the case stands, what evidence was previously considered, and why the case was denied by a disability examiner). This is also why representatives will attempt to obtain additional medical record documentation and also qualified statements from an applicant's treating physicians.
A disability representative may attempt to win a claimant's case at the disability application or reconsideration appeal level. However, because the rate of denial at both those levels is fairly high (seventy percent for applications and eight-five to eighty-seven percent for reconsiderations), most representatives will confine their efforts to filing the necessary appeal forms and getting occasional status updates--until the claimant has at least been denied at the first level, the disability application. This is because, for claimants who are denied at that level, the best opportunity for winning an awarding of benefits is typically at a disability hearing.
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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