How to file for disability, Filing for SSI
Disability Requirements, Disability Status
How long is the wait?, Disability Application
The Social Security List of Impairments
Qualifying for Disability, Mental Disability
Disability Lawyer Info, Disability Back Pay

What does Social Security Disability Representation Provide?

The chief goal of Social Security Disability and SSI representation is to maximize a claimant's chances of winning benefits and also maximize how much they may receive in past due benefits, or back pay. Ordinarily, this is achieved by having one's representative (who may be a disability lawyer or a non attorney disability representative) handle the following:

1. The preparation of a disability case for a social security hearing.

2. The presentation of a disability case for being heard by a federal administrative law judge, or ALJ, at a disability hearing.

Both aspects of getting ready for a disability hearing are equally important. Preparation includes analyzing what happened previously on a case (i.e. the decisions that were made by disability examiners at the disability application and reconsideration appeal levels) and obtaining further medical documentation that substantiate an onset date that provides for A) the establishment of monthly disability benefits and B) the payment of past due benefits, or disability back pay.

Medical documentation, of course, will include various types of medical evidence, such as the office notes of a claimant's regular physician or physicians, reports of blood work and imaging studies (xrays, MRIs, CT scans), and admission and discharge summaries from hospitals, as well as any documentation that might involve therapy, counseling, or specialized testing (such as spirometry, a.k.a. a breathing test).

This is the same type of information that is gathered by the social security administration prior to the hearing level. However, by the time a hearing takes place, SSA will no longer do any this type of evidence gathering and the responsibility for doing this will fall solely to the claimant or their disability attorney.

How important is it to obtain updated medical information and submit this to the judge who is deciding a case? It is crucial to the outcome since only new information will advise the administrative law judge of any changes in the claimant's condition, recent testing that has been performed, or any changes in medical providers, such as doctors and hospitals where treatment is being received.

More imporantly, though, the social security administration cannot qualify a person for disability benefits unless they can provide at least some medical records that are not older than 90 days.

The reason for this is that, to determine that a person is disabled and eligible to receive disability benefits, the social security administration must show that they are currently disabled, as in the present moment. Older medical records are very important as well since they will establish how far back a person has been disabled according to social security guidelines and this will directly impact how much they can receive in social security back pay.

However, an approval cannot be made on a Social Security Disability or SSI case unless the records show that the individual is currently disabled.

Unfortunately, most claimants who appear at a disability hearing without representation will be unaware of the importance of providing recent documentation. They will likewise be unaware of how far back their medical evidence should be obtained to support the most favorable onset date (which, as was stated, will provide for the maximum in back pay). By contrast, one of the chief goals of a disability representative, an attorney or otherwise, will be to obtain records that support these objectives.

Additionally, it should be noted that medical evidence is not simply limited to medical records. It also includes opinions that are obtained from doctors who can be classified as treating physicians. While doctor's opinions are sometimes obtained by unrepresented claimants, very often they are little more than short handwritten or typed statements in which the doctor states that their patient is disabled and unable to work. Because Social Security Disability and SSI decisions are based on the functional limitations that resulted from a person's medical (or mental) conditions, such brief statements do little to help a case, if they do anything at all.

Disability representatives, on the other hand, will typically attempt to obtain a completed medical source statement (i.e. a residual functional capacity form) from a claimant's doctor or doctors and with the level of detail involved in such statements, a case that might otherwise have been lost can often be won at the hearing level.

Essential Questions

What is the Social Security Disability SSI list of impairments?

Can you work while getting or applying for Disability?

How Often Does Social Security Approve Disability The First Time You Apply?

Tips for getting Social Security Disability or SSI benefits approved

What medical conditions will get you approved for disability?

What kind of Mental Problems Qualify for Disability?

Receiving a Disability Award Letter

Conditions Social Security will recognize as a disability

Previously answered questions regarding SSD and SSI

Applying for disability in your state

Most popular topics on SSDRC.com

Social Security Disability SSI Questions

The listings, list of disabling impairments

Can a mental illness qualify you for disability?

Disability Lawyers prevent unnecessary denials

How much Social Security Disability SSI back pay?

How to apply for disability for a child or children

Filing a Social Security Disability SSI application

Filing for disability - when to file

How to apply for disability - where to apply

Qualifications for disability benefits

How to Prove you are disabled and Win your Disability Benefits

Qualifying for Disability - The Process

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?

Common Mistakes to avoid after being denied for Disability

Social Security Disability SSI Exam tips

More Social Security Disability SSI Questions

Social Security Disability SSI definitions

What makes you eligible for Social Security Disability or SSI?

New and featured pages on SSDRC.com

Who can help me file for disability?

Related pages:

How does Social Security Disability Representation work?
Filing for Disability - Blind in one eye and a Learning Disability
Social Security Disability Issues and Representation
On disability for cerebral palsy, will I lose benefits if I marry?
What if I go to a Social Security hearing without an Attorney or a Disability Representative?
The Social Security Disability Representation Fee and What a Lawyer is Paid
Why does Representation increase the win ratio at a Social Security Disability or SSI Hearing?
Will I qualify for disability Benefits in New Jersey?
Getting a Disability Lawyer in New Jersey

These pages answer some of the most basic questions for individuals who are considering filing a claim.

Can you get temporary Social Security Disability or SSI benefits?

Permanent Social Security Disability

What is the difference between Social Security Disability and SSI?

Who is eligible for SSI disability?

Can I Be Eligible For SSI And Social Security Disability At The Same Time?

What makes a person eligible to receive disability benefits?

Applying for Disability - How long does it take to get Social Security Disability or SSI benefits?

What happens if I file a disability application and it is denied by a disability examiner or Judge?

For the sake of clarity, SSDRC.com is not the Social Security Administration, nor is it associated or affiliated with SSA. This site is a personal, private website that is published, edited, and maintained by former caseworker and former disability claims examiner, Tim Moore, who was interviewed by the New York Times on the topic of Social Security Disability and SSI benefits in an article entitled "The Disability Mess" and also by the Los Angeles Times on the subject of political attempts to weaken the Social Security Disability system.

The goal of the site is to provide information about how Social Security Disability and SSI work, the idea being that qualified information may help claimants pursue their claims and appeals, potentially avoiding time-consuming mistakes. If you find the information on this site helpful and believe it would be helpful to others, feel free to share links to its homepage or other pages on website resource pages, blogs, or social media. Copying of this material, however, is prohibited.

To learn more about the author, please visit the SSDRC.com homepage and view the "about this site" link near the bottom of the page.