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Will a Disability Judge advise you to get representation?



 
On a number of posts here, I've mentioned that if you go to a Social Security Disability hearing or SSI hearing without representation, there's a good chance that the disability judge will advise you to A) reschedule your hearing so that B) you can find representation on your disability claim.

However, I was speaking to a field office claims rep at a social security office and this individual told me that, in their opinion, the majority of administrative law judges do not,in fact, do this. What led this individual to this conclusion? The fact that so many claimants go to hearings without a disability attorney and do not reschedule. Sounds logical. Claimants who are advised by the judge hearing their case would, most likely, find it wise to get representation if so advised.

It begs the question. Why would a judge not advise a claimant who shows up unrepresented to get a disability lawyer. I can only assume that either the judge doesn't care and simply wants to clear cases from his or her caseload, or that the judge at one time did this, but has now begun to view all claimants who make this mistake as "one and the same", i.e. "let them represent themselves if they think that's a good idea".

Of course, it's never a good idea to do this. A person who appears at a hearing will typically not know anything about the decision history of their own case. Chances are, they will not have reviewed their own Social Security Disability file, will not know why their application for disability was denied, why their request for reconsideration was denied, and will certainly not know how to prepare for a disability hearing in order to avoid being denied again.

Other things an unrepresented claimant won't know: A) how to effectively argue that the classification of their past work may be incorrect, based on the actual duties they performed, B) how to argue that, based on their medical evidence, that their functional limitations (mental or physical) are greater than was determined by disability determination services (the agency that decides disability cases for SSA), C) how to argue that, in light of their limitations, age, education, and work skills, that they are incapable of performing suitable other work.

Then, of course, there is the aspect of hearing preparation. This involves not only knowing what is in the Social Security Disability file, but also how to add to it and strengthen it. Strengthening it may involve developing an argument for a disability approval on the basis of meeting a listing in the Social Security Disability list of impairments (the blue book).

It may involve getting additional records, including statements from a treating physician, and sending them in to the administrative law judge hearing the case. It may also involve, in a children's case, successfully obtaining questionaires from a child's teacher, a person who is well suited to provide first hand observations of a child's ability to engage in age-appropriate behaviors, or not.

There's actually very little that a claimant who shows up unrepresented at a hearing will know how to do to succesfully argue their case. And for this reason disability judges should always point out the fact that representation is an option they should consider. Judges who don't do this, of course, are not serving the best interests of claimants, but possibly their desire to clear their own caseloads.








Essential Questions

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Receiving a Disability Award Letter

Conditions Social Security will recognize as a disability

Previously answered questions regarding SSD and SSI

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These pages provide answers to basic questions about pursuing disability benefits

What mental problems qualify for disability?
SSI disability status
How to prove you qualify for disability
Qualifying for disability eligibility requirements
How Does Social Security Decide If You Are Disabled
How much does disability pay?
Factors involved in Winning SSDI or SSI Claims
Applying for disability with Degenerative Disc Disease
How long to get a Social Security decision letter?
What Does Social Security Consider To Be a Disability?
The amount of back pay that you receive
Social Security medical disability determination process
If You Get Approved For SSDI Will You Also Get Medicare?
How long can you receive SSI or Social Security Disability benefits?
How Long Does A Social Security Disability Appeal Take?
How Long Does It Take To Get Disability Benefits When You First File?
Can you work if you get SSI disability?
Social Security Disability attorney fees
Am I eligible to receive disability benefits?
What are the non medical requirements for disability
How to get SSI
Approved for disability benefits
SSD SSI disability hearing decision








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.