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

Should you get Help from a Disability Attorney before the Claim has been Denied?

Many times, a claimant will wait till their case has progessed to the level of a Social Security hearing before getting a qualified disability attorney to assist them with their claim. In other instances, a claimant will wait until they have received a notice of denial (officially known as a notice of disapproved claim) before getting disability representation. Neither approach is incorrect.

However, the point of this article is to point out what the advantages of having early representation on a disability case might be. So, here is a short list of considerations for those who are considering getting representation before their case is denied.

1. Many claimants who are not represented on a disability case will simply not follow through on filing the claim. In many cases, it may be due to depression or because of anxiety. In others, it may be because of comprehension or memory impairment issues. In the majority of cases, it may be due to a combination of procrastination and not wanting to believe that one's situation has finally come to the point of having to seek assistance. Having early representation can cut through this.

It used to be, going back to the last decade, that most disability lawyers and non-attorney disability representatives would not even consider assisting someone until their case had been denied at least once by the social security administration. This was not a good position to take because it meant that many claimants would be forced to "wing it". Some claimants, of course, also took the position that they should not get a lawyer too soon because they might save money. They thought, "Why should I be in the position of paying a lawyer fee when I might win on my first attempt?".

Presently, the environment for representation is different. More disability lawyers now recognize the need to provide assistance at earlier steps of the process.

This is largely because there are now so many more claims in the system and that system is "bogging down". Cases take longer, there tends to be more confusion as the social security administration makes large scale changes to how cases are considered and processed, and claimants need quicker responses from attorneys and non-attorney representatives who can make themselves available to claimants at all levels of the system, even those who have not even filed for disability but would like some advice and counsel concerning A) what to do, and B) whether or not they have a viable claim.

Is it ok for a claimant to put off representation until their claim has been denied, or until their case has moved to the hearing stage? Certainly. However, some claimants will miss certain opportunities by delaying disability representation.

This is simply a known and proven fact and, as a former disability examiner, it was very common to see cases on a weekly basis in which applicants wasted months of valuable time because A) they were doing the wrong thing and B) no one from the social security administration had bothered to advise them of what they should be doing, whereas a representative would not only have advised them but also would have performed the task for them.

2. Many claimants fail to properly follow the appeal process. In many instances, this means failing to meet appeal deadlines without being able to demonstrate good cause.

In others, it will mean filing a new claim (which is incorrect) versus filing the appropriate appeal with a social security field office. Since disability representatives take over all aspects of handling a claim from the moment a representative is designated on a form SSA-1696 (the official appointment of representative form), this mistake does not happen for represented claimants. Deadlines are also not often missed. Either mistake, of course, can have the effect of setting a case back by a factor of months.

3. Disability claimants who are not represented will often not realize how they should keep track of the status of a disability claim. Because they filed their application for disability with a local social security field office, they may believe that this is the place to call for status updates.

However, the social security office only takes the claim; it does not work on processing the claim which involves obtaining and reviewing medical evidence and having this evidence evaluated by a team of individuals including a disability examiner, a medical doctor who serves as a medical consultant for the examiner, possibly a licensed psychologist if the claim involves mental disorders or conditions, and quality control personnel who may review the decision reached by the disability examiner.

To get an update on a social security or SSI status, a claimant should contact the agency known as DDS, or disability determination services, if their claim is pending at the application level or is pending at the reconsideration level.

If the claim is pending at the hearing level, the status of the disability claim (which, in this case, would be for the scheduling of a hearing) should be obtained from the hearing office, known as ODAR, or office of disability adjudication and review. Claimants who are represented should never have to call any part of the social security administration, however, since their chosen representative will typically do this at periodic intervals.

4. Many claimants will fail to provide the information that is needed by the social security administration, and in the proper detail.

For example, social security will ask a claimant to list their medical treatment sources and work history. And claimants will comply with this but will often fail to disclose accurate dates of treatment not realizing that the social social security administration needs to uncover early dates of treatment to support the claimant's AOD, which stands for alleged onset date (essentially, the date a person claims, on a disability application, that they became disabled).

Continued at: You Cannot get a Social Security Disability or SSI Award if you don't Provide SSA what they need

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

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Related pages:

If I Get Denied Twice For SSD or SSI Disability, What Do I Do?
What Are The Reasons For Social Security Disability Cases Being Denied?
What happens if you get denied for Social Security Disability three times?
Why Will A Social Security Disability Application Get Denied?
How Many Times Will Social Security Disability Deny You before You Get Approved for Disability?
Can You Avoid Being Denied on a Social Security Disability or SSI Claim?
What happens if a reconsideration for Social Security Disability or SSI is denied?
What should be done if your disability is denied?
How do you appeal if you are denied for Social Security Disability or SSI?
Should you get Help from a Disability Attorney before the Claim has been Denied?
Will a new diagnosis of depression help on a disability appeal after being denied on the initial application?
If you apply for disability in Texas
Disability requirements in Texas
Qualifying For Disability in Texas

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.