What is your disability attorney supposed to do in their role?

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).

About the Author: Tim Moore is a former Social Security Disability Examiner in North Carolina, has been interviewed by the NY Times and the LA Times on the disability system, and is an Accredited Disability Representative (ADR) in North Carolina. For assistance on a disability application or Appeal in NC, click here.

Most popular topics on SSDRC.com

Social Security Disability in North Carolina

Common Mistakes to avoid after being denied for Disability

Tips to Prepare for Filing for Social Security Disability or SSI

Advice to Win SSD and SSI Benefit Claims

Social Security Disability SSI Questions

What is the difference between Social Security Disability and SSI?

How to get disability for depression

Getting disability for fibromyalgia

SSI disability for children with ADHD

What is the Application Process for Social Security Disability and SSI?

Social Security Disability SSI Exam tips

More Social Security Disability SSI Questions

What makes you eligible for Social Security Disability or SSI?

Related pages:

Does SSI disability come with automatic medical care?

How long do you have to be out of work to get disability benefits?

Can disability be denied because of not enough doctor visits?

Can I get Social Security Disability off my spouse's record?

Do I need an attorney to get disability?

Getting the Status of your Disability Hearing Request

Will I be sent to my own doctor for a disability examination for SSD or SSI?

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

What do I do after being denied disability?

Can I receive temporary SSI disability benefits?

How to get an SSDI reconsideration appeal approved