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

Social Security Disability Representation and Falling Short

I was speaking to someone I know who works as a field office CR, or claims rep. Claims reps--for those who are unaware--are the individuals who take in disability applications at social security offices and then transmit them to the state agency that actually does the medical evaluation of the claim (usually called DDS, or disability determination services, this is where the case is assigned to a disability examiner). This particular CR was telling me that they had begun to receive some claims from a newer non-attorney representation company that takes cases nationally and their "take" on the company was not favorable. In what way?

Well several, actually.

1) The paperwork they turn in to social security tends to be shoddy and somewhat incomplete.

2) They are difficult to get return calls from.

3) They make it very difficult for the social security administration to contact the claimant.

Number 3 is what I want to focus on. Individuals who obtain representation on a Social Security Disability claim or SSI disability claim sign something known as form SSA-1696. The 1696 is used to notify the social security administration that a claimant is being represented. Once the 1696 is received by SSA, SSA is put on notice to A) send copies of all correspondence to the representative (so that the claimant and the representative each stay on the same page) and B) to (theoretically) get permission from the representative prior to contacting the claimant.

This particular company apparently makes it impossible for the social security administration to contact the claimant. Now, there is a reasoning behind this. Protecting the claimant's interests can be facilitated by making sure that the representative is the first line of contact. However, blocking social security's access to the claimant only makes sense if the representative actually stays on the ball.

In other words, if social security needs information about the claimant's work history and the representative won't allow social security to get the information directly from the claimant, then the representative needs to quickly obtain this information themselves so it can quickly be returned to social security.

Sadly, that is not what this company does. At the same time that they impede contact between SSA and the client they also take far too much time to respond to information requests. In other words, they fall short of what they should do to make sure the processing of the claim is not delayed. Suffice it to say, this is not a standard to conform to.

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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.