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

Is there a requirement to have a lawyer at a disability hearing?

Are Social Security Disability Hearings a Rigged Scam? Someone wrote recently the following (paraphrased): "Social security denies nearly everyone the first time, and this is due to a scam involving the judges who used to be practicing disability lawyers, as the lawyers support each other. This forces you to get a lawyer in order to win".

Is there any truth to this? Not a bit, and it reflects a complete misunderstanding of how the social security disability and SSI disability system (which is the same system) works.

When a person first files for disability, they do the following:

1. They usually contact a local social security office to set up an appointment to be interviewed.

2. The purpose of the interview is NOT to determine if the individual is disabled, but, rather, to get the disability application ready to be sent to where the claim will be worked on and decided. Where is that? At a state-level DDS, or disability determination services, agency. It is at a DDS that the claim will be assigned to a disability examiner who will gather the medical records, evaluate those records and the claimant's work history (the academic history if the claimant is a child) in order to arrive at a decision on the claim.

From reading number 2, it should be obvious that judges are not in any way involved in the decisional process at the disability application level. And judges are, furthermore, not involved in decisions at the next step of the system, which is the reconsideration appeal level. That level also involves a disability examiner who will, as with the first level, review the claimant's medical and work history (and possibly academic history if the claimant is a child, or an adult with mental impairment issues) in order to make a decision on the claim.

Disability judges only come into the process at the disability hearing level and the hearings are anything but rigged or scammy. In fact, they offer claimants who have been previously denied their best chance of winning benefits. At the disability application level, where examiners make decisions, about seven out of every ten claims are denied. At the hearing level, where judges make decisions, at least half of all claims are approved and this figure rises to better than sixty percent for claimants who have representation.

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

Related pages:

A disability attorney and your medical records at a hearing
Does it take the right doctor and letter to win disability?
Medically disabled for Social Security Disability
If You Get Approved For SSDI Will You Also Get Medicare?
What can I expect from a Social Security Mental Examination or Evaluation?
Filing for disability with obesity
Applying for disability with depression
How to get disability with arthritis, osteoarthritis
How to file for disability in Oklahoma
Forms for Social Security Disability
Social Security Disability Criteria
Denied disability by ALJ
Can You Get Approved For SSI or SSD Benefits if you Have A Mental Condition
Check your SSDI and SSI claim status
How social security evaluates attention deficit

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

How to claim disability
Disability claim appeal status
How to get you Social Security Disability status
How does a person qualify for disability benefits?
How do you Apply for SSI?
How Much Income Can you Earn If you draw Social Security Disability?
Can you work if you get SSI?
How long will you get disability after an award notice?
If You Get Social Security Disability or SSI, Will Your Dependents Get A Check?
Social Security Disability denied
Time on a Social Security Disability Decision
How to apply for disability for a child or children
Denied Twice For SSD or SSI Disability, What Do I Do?
f I get disability will my children receive benefits?
Social Security Disability SSI - Retroactive Benefits Vs Back Pay Benefits
How long do you have To Be Out Of Work Before You Get Social Security Disability (SSD)?
How to file for disability and medical conditions
What Does Social Security Consider To Be a Disability?
When does social security consider you eligible for disability benefits?
Qualifying for disability benefits with the social security administration
How to get disability
Will I be approved for disability on my appeal?
How to appeal a disability denial