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
Hiring a Qualified Disability Lawyer in Alabama
Claimants with representation in Alabama tend to be approved in higher percentages, have a need for fewer appeals, and more favorable "dates of onset" (the date the disability is proven to have begun) which can result in higher back pay benefits.
A qualified representative will have a knowledge of Social Security administrative law and procedures, especially with regard to how claims are approved through the Social Security listings and the medical vocational grid rules.
A qualified and competent representative or lawyer will also be skilled in the ability to obtain the most relevant case evidence, analyze it correctly, and incorporate it as part of a winning strategy for a claim.
This, of course, is where unrepresented claimants may have their greatest disadvantage. Medical records, even when they are submitted in great quantity, will not, in and of themselves, win a disability claim.
Instead, the evidence that is presented must either A) demonstrate that a claimant has what SSA refers to as a listing-level impairment, or B) the records that are obtained must prove the existence of functional limitations that rule out the claimant's past work activity, as well as rule out their vocational capacity to switch to new and other types of work.
A qualified and experience disability representative or attorney will know which information in a claimant's cumulative medical records is actually relevant and helpful toward winning a claim for disability.
Representation for SSD or SSI benefits in Alabama may be provided through a disability lawyer or a specialized non-attorney disability representative. Many non-attorney representatives are former Social Security Administration Claims Specialists and Disability Examiners who have many years of experience both reviewing and deciding claims.
Should there be a preference for one type of representative versus the other? In actuality, no. But since the Social Security system is fairly complex and intricate, the representative a claimant chooses should be one that specializes in Social Security cases only. For example, an att
1. When can you get a disability attorney or representative in Alabama? - A person filing for disability may obtain representation at any point in their claim. Many claimants will seek representation after the claim has been initially denied (which, in most states, will mean that the next step will involve requesting a reconsideration appeal).
At the very least, however, a claimant should be represented by the time their case gets to the hearing level. Going to a hearing unrepresented is nearly always ill-advised and many judges will advise claimants who appear by themselves at a hearing that they may have their hearing rescheduled so that a disability attorney or non-attorney disability representative may be obtained.
2. Should you get early representation on a disability claim? - Some claimants will choose to get representation after their initial claim has been denied. This is usually very helpful because, from that point forward, it ensures that all appeals will be filed in a timely manner and that the case will be monitored by a third party. Many individuals, however, will benefit from representation at the very beginning of the process. In many instances, this may mean a claimant being assisted in the filing of their claim and this
3. Will a disability attorney speed up a claim and help you get a decision faster? - At certain points in a claim, a representative may be able to introduce evidence that results in a decision being made faster than it would be made otherwise. At the hearing level, an attorney may request an on-the-record decision if they feel the evidence of the case is particularly strong. However, even at the application and reconsideration appeal levels, an attorney may be able to provide enough information to an examiner to facilitate an approval being made.
To learn about fees for representation, see: "How do disability lawyers get paid?"
If you are filing for Social Security (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) disability in Alabama, your chances of being approved for disability benefits are very slim. Only 28.6% of disability applicants are approved for disability in Alabama compared to a national average of 31.1%. More than two thirds of the people who file a disability claim in Alabama are denied.
Does this mean you have no chance of winning disability benefits? Not necessarily, it just means the Social Security Disability process can be long and difficult.
If your initial Social Security claim is denied, you can appeal the decision with a reconsideration appeal. And this can be done with or without a disability attorney or a disability representative. Unfortunately, those who file their reconsideration are even less likely to win their disability benefits. About 83% of the disability claimants who file reconsideration appeals in Alabama are denied.
Denial rates for initial disability claims and reconsideration appeals are so high that many disability claimants across the nation assume they must be denied at least one time, perhaps two times, before they are approved for disability.
If your reconsideration appeal has been denied, you can appeal this denial by requesting a hearing with an administrative law judge. If you are an Alabama resident, your disability claim has a better than average chance of being approved for disability at your disability hearing. The Alabama disability hearing approval rate is 63.8% compared to the national average of 55.9%.
Since this is the best opportunity to win your disability case, you should consider obtaining the services of a disability attorney or non-attorney Social Security Representative who is familiar with Social Security Disability vocational and medical guidelines.
As an average claimant, it is unlikely that you would know what kind of medical or vocational information you need for your disability case, or how to interpret the basis for prior decisions, let alone how the medical-vocational grid rules were used to deny your claim at the disability application or reconsideration appeal levels.
Note: It does not matter if a claimant’s representative is a non-attorney disability representative or a disability attorney. Many non-attorney disability representatives are former employees of SSA, or are former disability examiners such as the author of SSDRC.com, Tim Moore.
The most two important characteristics of a representative is that they be knowledgeable about the Social Security Disability (and SSI) system, and that they specialize in handling SSD and SSI claims. Many attorneys handles a variety of cases (traffic, malpractice, workman’s comp, personal injury) and, thus, do not develop an expert knowledge of Social Security claims.
By contrast, non-attorney representatives, many of whom formerly worked in the system themselves, do only one thing: focus on title II Social Security Disability and title 16 SSI disability claims. The basic point, of course, is this: always choose a specialist, not a generalist, because the disability system is complex and encompasses regulations, administrative procedure, and court rulings. Attorneys who do not specialize often fail to have an adequate understanding of SSD and SSI even after years of practice.
At a hearing, the burden of being knowledgeable about the Social Security Administrative law system is even stronger since a disability lawyer or non-attorney disability representative will need to be cognizant of SSA regulations (from the code of federal regulations), be knowledgeable about prior Social Security court rulings, and will often be required to respond to expert testimony provided by a medical or vocational witness brought in by the judge.
It is for this reason that Social Security Disability judges routinely advise disability claimants who attend their hearing without representation of their right to representation.
In Alabama or any other state, a disability lawyer can be helpful not matter what level of the disability process your claim is at. If your initial disability claim is denied, they will file your reconsideration appeal for you and if your reconsideration appeal is denied they will file your disability hearing appeal for you. They prepare your disability case by obtaining necessary medical records, physician statements, or the services of a vocational or medical expert to help substantiate the facts of your disability claim.
Additionally, they will present your disability case to the judge in a way that is most favorable to you being approved for disability benefits. The services of a competent representative could make the difference between winning a losing your disability claim. It takes a long time to get a disability hearing and if you do not win your case, you will have to start this long process all over.
What is the Social Security Disability SSI list of impairments?
Can you work while getting or applying for Disability?
How Often Does Social Security Approve Disability The First Time You Apply?
Tips for getting Social Security Disability or SSI benefits approved
What medical conditions will get you approved for disability?
What kind of Mental Problems Qualify for Disability?
Receiving a Disability Award Letter
Conditions Social Security will recognize as a disability
Previously answered questions regarding SSD and SSI
Applying for disability in your state
Most popular topics on SSDRC.com
Social Security Disability SSI Questions
The listings, list of disabling impairments
Can a mental illness qualify you for disability?
Disability Lawyers prevent unnecessary denials
How much Social Security Disability SSI back pay?
How to apply for disability for a child or children
Filing a Social Security Disability SSI application
Filing for disability - when to file
How to apply for disability - where to apply
Qualifications for disability benefits
How to Prove you are disabled and Win your Disability Benefits
Qualifying for Disability - The Process
How to get disability for depression
Getting disability for fibromyalgia
SSI disability for children with ADHD
What is the Application Process for Social Security Disability and SSI?
Common Mistakes to avoid after being denied for Disability
Social Security Disability SSI Exam tips
More Social Security Disability SSI Questions
Social Security Disability SSI definitions
What makes you eligible for Social Security Disability or SSI?
New and featured pages on SSDRC.com
Who can help me file for disability?
These pages answer some of the most basic questions for individuals who are considering filing a claim.
Can you get temporary Social Security Disability or SSI benefits?
Permanent Social Security Disability
What is the difference between Social Security Disability and SSI?
Who is eligible for SSI disability?
Can I Be Eligible For SSI And Social Security Disability At The Same Time?
What makes a person eligible to receive disability benefits?
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?
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.