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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 Pennsylvania




Claimants who are represented on disability claims in Pennsylvania tend to have a higher rate of approval, a need for fewer appeals, and more favorable "dates of onset" (the date the disability is proven to have begun) that lead to higher back pay benefits.

Representation may be through a disability lawyer or a specialized non-attorney disability representative. Many non-attorney reps are former Social Security Administration Claims Specialists and Disability Examiners with an extended history of working from within the federal system.

A qualified disability representative will have a knowledge of Social Security administrative law, particularly with regard to how claims are approved through the Social Security listings and the medical vocational grid rules. A qualified and competent disability 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?"


Additional information

Getting a Pennsylvania disability lawyer involved in your case can improve your chances of being awarded disability benefits (ongoing and back pay), particularly if your case, like most of those filed in this state, is turned down by the state disability determination services agency.

The federal office of disability programs released information indicating that more than half of those who applied for Social Security Disability (SSD) or supplemental security income (SSI) in Pennsylvania were denied disability benefits. Those who appealed the disability decision of the disability examiner by filing a request for a Social Security Disability review or reconsideration were even less likely to be approved, with a denial rate of approximately 70 percent.

This is not surprising, given the fact that the agency reviewing the case, disability determination services, is the same agency that denied disability benefits in the first place.

If your claim for disability benefits is denied, and your reconsideration appeal fails as well, your next best step is to request a hearing before a federal administrative law judge (ALJ). It can take up to a year to have your case heard, but the outcome can be worth the wait—forty percent of claimants who have their case heard before a disability judge win benefits, the best odds for an applicant at any point in the entire disability determination process.

However, the odds of winning benefits before an ALJ are even greater when the claimant retains a lawyer specializing in SSD and SSI matters to present his or her case. The national average disability approval rate of disability claims rises from 40 to 60 percent when the claimant is represented by an experienced disability attorney, leaving little doubt that at this second appeal level a lawyer can make the difference between a loss and a win.

Given recent statistics showing the difficulty Pennsylvania residents experience in seeking disability benefits, it is strongly recommended that applicants retain legal counsel before this last, somewhat critical appeal, their chance to be heard before a federal judge.

Note: The request for reconsideration appeal step is currently suspended in the state of Pennsylvania as Pennsylvania is one of 10 prototype states testing a system in which denied claims move immediately to the hearing level upon appeal. Reconsideration may be reinstated at some point and many consider this likely. In the meantime, a claimant who is denied on a disability application should request, and prepare, for a hearing before a federal administrative law judge.








Essential Questions

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Previously answered questions regarding SSD and SSI

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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.