Overview of Disability

Disability Back Pay

Disability Requirements

Disability Applications

Disability Advice Tips

How long do cases take?

How to win Disability

SSD Mistakes to avoid

Disability for Mental

What if you get denied?

How to file Appeals

Disability through SSA

SSI Disability Benefits

Disability for Children

How do I qualify for it?

Working and Disability

Disability Award Notice

Disability Lawyer Q&A

Disability Conditions List

What is a disability?

Your Medical Evidence

Filing for your Disability

Disability Eligibility

SSD SSI Definitions

Recent Questions

SSDRC Disability Blog

Should I be Represented by a Lawyer or a Non-Attorney Disability Representative?

A Social Security Disability case or SSI disability case should always be handled and represented by a specialist.

This means that if you have an attorney working on your claim, the attorney should be one that specializes in the representation of SSD and SSI claims versus an attorney that only devotes a percentage of his or her total workload to social security cases and devotes the rest of their workload to, for example, a combination of traffic, personal injury, and medical malpractice cases.

Why do you want a specialist? For the most practical reason, really. The disability system administered by the Social security Administration is a complex system of case law and regulatory and administrative procedure (which is why the federal judges that make decisions on claims at the hearing level are ALJs, or administrative law judges).

To fully understand how cases are decided, how they are processed (by disability examiners who make decisions on each disability application filed), and how and why a case is either approved or denied, it takes a specialist.

This is particularly evident when you take into consideration the fact that a disability representative should be able to review a claimant's file and quickly and easily understand the following:

1. The medical evidence - Was all the medical evidence gathered? Was some of it missed when the disability examiner requested the claimant's records. Was some of it not properly considered? Was the evidence properly evaluated?

This last question is especially important since the medical evidence is used to determine the claimant's residual functional capacity which allows the disability examiner to decide whether or not the claimant is capable of going back to work.

2. The decision that was made on the case - A disability representative who is an experienced specialist will be able to review the history of the case and understand what medical-vocational rule was employed to direct a decision of disabled or not disabled.

Likewise, a specialist will be able to ascertain whether or not a case processing error was made, or what the prospects are for approval should the claim be appealed.

An attorney who only occasionally represents social security disability cases and SSI cases will, typically, have less understanding of how the federal system works and, as a result, a claimant who has such a representative will potentially be a grave disadvantage if this type of representative handles their case.

How can a claimant know if their disability attorney, or prospective attorney, specializes in social security law, or only handles the occasional claim? The easiest way to to do this is visit the attorney's website, or to simply ask them on the phone if they specialize in social security, or represent other types of legal cases.

Return to:  Social Security Disability Resource Center, or read answers to Questions

Related pages:

Should I be Represented by a Lawyer or a Non-Attorney Disability Representative?
What is the Role of a Social Security Disability Representative?
Getting a Social Security Disability Attorney or Representative for your case
Will an attorney or representative help me win North Carolina disability benefits?
Should I get a disability representative or lawyer in North Carolina?
Responsibilities of the Disability Representative Before and After the Social Security Hearing
Facing the possibility of having to leave work and go back on disability
Will my SSI or SSDI claim be denied if my spouse makes too much?

Information on the following topics can be found here: Social Security Disability Questions and in these subsections:

Frequently asked questions about getting Denied for Disability Benefits | FAQ on Disability Claim Representation | 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 | Disability hearings before Judges | Medical exams for disability claims | Applying for Disability in various states | Selecting and hiring Disability Lawyers | Applying for Disability in North Carolina | Recent articles and answers to questions about SSD and SSI

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

Filing for disability - How to file for SSD or SSI and the Information that is needed by Social Security
How to Apply for Disability - What medical conditions can you apply and qualify for?
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?
How to Prove you are disabled and qualify to win disability benefits
How do you prove your disability case if you have a mental condition or impairment?
Social Security Disability Back pay and How Long it Takes to Qualify for it and receive it
Social Security Disability SSI - Eligibility Requirements and Qualifications Criteria