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 you get someone to help you with your social security disability or SSI claim?

When it comes to filing for disability benefits with the social security administration, you should do the following.

1. Learn how the disability process and system works.

2. Don't utilize the services of social agencies (such as a department of social services) to assist you will applying for disability.

3. Immediately apply for disability.

Number three, of course, should be a given if an individual has a mental or physical impairment (or several impairments, which is often the case) and the impairment makes it either impossible to work or has the effect of significantly reducing the ability to work and earn a sustainable wage. And the keyword in that sentence should be "immediately".

Simply put, disability cases take a long time to process and more cases are denied at the application level than approved, thus, making it necessary to file appeals. And the appeal process for social security disability and SSI can be very long, indeed.

Number one is simply good advice. A claimant should learn how the system works, both to reduce the probability of making a mistake on a claim and for this one reason: social security offices typically do a poor job of explaining how the system works to individuals who are filing for disability or already have a pending claim. And this is probably the reason why so many claimants do the following: file brand new applications after they have been denied (when they should have filed an appeal instead).

Number two on this list, however, is also a good point of advice and this is something I can speak with authority on. I am a former disability claims examiner for social security. And in that capacity, I made decisions on SSD and SSI disability cases.

However, I have also been a social services caseworker in a number of programs, including medicaid. And in caseworker roles, I knew nothing practically about the social security disability and SSI disability system. In fact, it would be difficult to find anyone (caseworker or social worker) at a department of social services who knows anything about the federal disability programs. Why is that? The answer is simple. Its not their job to know.

Should you get someone to help you with your social security disability or SSI claim?

If you have a friend, neighbor, or relative who has been through the process, you might want to solicit their advice. And, in some cases, if a social services organization offers you assistance in getting a disability claim initiated (such as providing transportation to a social security office for an interview, or setting up an appointment to file an application), then you may wish to take advantage of this.

However, when it comes to case preparation, particularly involving appeals, and especially involving disability hearings, you should probably obtain the assistance of an individual who is thoroughly familiar with how the system works. And if you are at a point where you consider it necessary to obtain representation on your claim, you should make sure the representative you eventually choose (a disability attorney or non-attorney representative) specializes in social security disability and SSI cases.

Why? Because you don't want a generalist who only represents a handful of these cases each. What you want, and will benefit from, is a specialist who does nothing but represent SSD and SSI cases (and, as a result, is intimately familiar with such cases, and is also familiar with the judges at hearing office for your area's jurisdication).

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

Related pages:

Disability requirements and how to file in Pennsylvania
What are the Application Requirements For SSI Disability?
How to File for SSI
Which medical treatment sources will Social Security accept for evidence?
How does Social Security determine someone can't work?
How can I win disability if I don't have health insurance and can be seen by a doctor?
Applying for disability, medical conditions
Appealing A Social Security Disability Determination
Disability requirements, eligibility, criteria
How do you Apply for SSI?
What Conditions Qualify For Social Security Disability?

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 provide answers to basic questions about pursuing disability benefits

What Mental Problems Qualify for Disability?
Disability for a mental condition
Tips for Filing for disability
Financial Help Filing For Disability
Checklist for filing for disability, SSI or SSD
Qualifying for disability benefits, how to qualify for SSD or SSI
Filing a disability application: the steps
Disability award notice, how long it takes to get benefits
How to Apply for Disability - Where do I go?
What makes you eligible to get disability?
How to check my disability claim status?
Can a disability attorney speed up a disability case?
SSI disability Award Letter
How long to get approved for disability?
How to apply for disability benefits
How long does disability back pay take?
What are qualifications for getting disability?
What medical conditions can you file disability for?
Disability Lawyer help questions
Social Security Attorneys, Disability Representatives