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 DC
Claimants who have disability representation in DC, the Distict of Columbia, tend to have a higher percentage of disability awards, need to file fewer case appeals, and obtain more favorable "dates of onset" (when the disability is proven to have begun) which can result in higher back pay benefits.
Social Security Representation may be provided through a disability lawyer or a specialized non-attorney disability representative. Many non-attorney reps are former Social Security Administration Personnel such as Claims Specialists and Disability Examiners.
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.
To learn about fees for representation, see: "How do disability lawyers get paid?"
Should you get a representative or attorney if you are filing for Social Security (SSDI) or Supplemental Security income (SSI) disability in DC? For most individuals filing for disability, the question is not if but "when" should I get a disability lawyer or representative? The simple answer to this question is you do not have to have a representative to file for disability. However, there is no denying that a representative can make the Social Security Disability process easier for their client.
Nearly 40 percent of all disability applicants are approved for disability benefits in DC. The national average is about 32 percent; the reality is that most disability applicants are denied benefits. It is at this juncture many disability claimants obtain a Social Security attorney or non-attorney representative to help them navigate the appeal process.
A representative makes sure that your appeals are filed timely with as much supporting evidence as possible. A proactive disability representative will attempt to win the case as soon as possible to avoid the necessity of additional appeals that add more months of time to a case.
For example, if a case is not won at the first appeal level, the reconsideration step, then the need for a hearing can easily add an extra year of time to a case. This, in and of itself, is a good rationale for considering representation from the very beginning, or at the very least after the first denial (at the disability application stage) has been issued.
In DC, like other states, you have sixty-five days from the date on your Social Security Disability or SSI denial notice to have your appeal received by your local Social Security office. With the advent of the online disability appeal process, you or your representative can complete all the necessary appeal forms and electronically send them to your local Social Security office.
If you do not wish to file online, you can still file a paper appeal; however the time limits still apply. 85 percent of all reconsideration appeals are denied in DC, versus a national average approval rate of 89 percent.
Most DC disability applicants will have to request a hearing before an administrative law judge if they hope to win their disability benefits. It takes many months to get to a disability hearing and if you do not have a representative already you may wish to consider obtaining one.
Do you need a representative? That decision is yours to make but before deciding to represent your own disability case before the administrative law judge you should consider that, at this point, you have already been denied at the initial disability claim and reconsideration appeal levels. This alone indicates that while you may have severe disabling conditions, your disability case is not straightforward enough to meet the requirements of a Social Security Disability or SSI claim approval.
At the hearing level, a representative who A) is familiar with Social Security Disability vocational and medical guidelines, the mechanisms for claim approvals (via the listings and the grid rules), the code of federal regulations, and the SSRs (Social Security Rulings) and B) can present a logical rationale for a benefit award (known as a "theory of the case") will have a good chance of making a successful presentation of your disability case to the judge.
The administrative law judge hearing approval rate in DC is 67.7 percent; one of the most favorable in the nation. However, this rate of approval is impacted by the issue of representation. Unrepresented individuals often have a much lower win ratio, which is why many ALJs (administrative law judges) will often give claimants who show up at hearings unrepresented the opportunity to reschedule their hearing so they may seek a suitable disability representative or disability lawyer to provide assistance on their claim.
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.