Social Security Disability Resource Center
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What is your disability attorney supposed to do in their role?
A disability attorney has really just one single purpose. That is to help you win your Social Security Disability or SSI Disability claim, and help you obtain all the disability back pay benefits to which you are entitled. How can they help you do this?
Based on my personal experience as both a disability examiner and through my own work in disability representation, this is my answer:
1. A disability attorney or disability representative will help you avoid mistakes on claims. What mistakes? There are many to avoid, such as a) missing scheduled appointments for consultative medical exams, which are basically Social Security Medical examinations, b) failing to get in touch with a disability examiner when they have requested that you contact them within 10 days, c) failing to update Social Security with changes in your condition or keeping them updated with regard to your treatment, or even failing to keep them updated with how to get in touch with you. And, of course, d) failing to file an appeal before the deadline expires.
Any of these mistakes can have an injurious effect on your claim and you definitely want to avoid them. They simply are unnecessary. Part of what a disability attorney or disability representative will do is work to ensure that these simple but potentially harmful mistakes do not happen.
Obviously, when it comes to appeals, a disability representative or attorney will file your appeal for you so that the deadline cannot be missed. In the other examples, however, your attorney or representative will receive copies of all correspondence sent to you by the Social Security Administration and will then typically remind you of your examination appointment, remind you to get in touch with SSA if they have requested this, or update your disability examiner with new medical treatment information assuming that you provided this information to your attorney or representative.
2. A disability attorney or disability representative will attempt to obtain the information that is necessary to prove that you are disabled according to the Social Security Administration's own definition of disability. This information includes medical records of a physical or mental nature, but can also include statements from your doctors.
These statements are referred to as medical source statements and Social Security refers to them as RFCs or residual functional capacity forms. But they basically do one thing: they take your doctor's opinion about how your medical condition, or conditions, limit your ability to do normal everday activities, including work activity. This information is recorded in very specific detail and the form will typically ask, among other things, how long you can sit or stand, how much weight you can occasionally or frequently carry, your ability to reach, grasp, maintain attention and concentration, etc, etc.
Forms from doctors are, quite honestly, sometimes essentially ignored by disability examiners if your claim is being worked on at the disability application or reconsideration appeal level. However, they can have a very strong impact at a disability hearing conducted by an ALJ or administrative law judge. Disability attorneys and Disability Representatives frequently use these forms obtained from doctors to effectively win their client's cases for them.
Suffice it to say, the primary role of someone representing a disability claim is to win the claim. However, an individual representing a claim will use their knowledge of your case and medical history to establish the most favorable onset date possible (when your disability began) so that you can receive the highest amount possible in disability back pay. And also allow you to receive your medicare benefits as quickly as possible (note: medicare applies to Social Security Disability, not SSI. SSI recipients may potentially receive medicaid).
Social Security Disability and SSI Resource Center
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Common Questions about Social Security Disability and SSI
Winning Social Security Disability or SSI Benefits
The SSI Disability Benefits Program
Medical exams for disability claims
Applying for Disability in various states
Social Security Disability SSI and Doctors - Yours and Theirs
Social Security Disability and SSI Claim Reviews
Social Security Disability SSI System and Benefits for Children
Denials, Appeals, and Getting a Disability Lawyer or Representative
What you should know about Social Security Disability and SSI Denials
Questions about Disability Lawyers and Hiring a Disability Attorney
Frequently asked questions about getting Denied for Disability Benefits
FAQ on Disability Claim Representation
Disability hearings before Judges
Selecting and hiring Disability Lawyers
Various Types of Benefits including SSI, Mental, and Child benefits
Social Security and SSI based on Mental Disability
Social Security Disability or SSI Benefits for Children
Disability Benefits through Social Security
Filing for Social Security Disability or SSI Benefits
Social Security Disability SSI: Medical Evidence and Records
Filing your claim for disability benefits
Eligibility for receiving disability benefits
Info about Social Security Disability Approvals and Being Approved
FAQ on Social Security Disability SSI decisions
The SSD SSI Decision Process and what gets taken into consideration
Resources on this site
Social Security Disability, SSI Terms and Definitions
Previously answered questions regarding SSD and SSI
About the Author of SSDRC, Tim Moore
For Individuals living in North Carolina
Applying for Disability in North Carolina
North Carolina Disability Lawyer
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Do I need an attorney to get disability?
Getting the Status of your Disability Hearing Request
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Does Social Security send you to their doctors?
Using the right medical evidence to win disability benefits
Disability Judges and getting information for your disability claim decision
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Can I receive temporary SSI disability benefits?
How to get an SSDI reconsideration appeal approved