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

Social Security Disability Issues and Representation

People who file for Social Security Disability or SSI benefits and have been turned down by their state disability determination services (DDS) agency (disability examiners at DDS make the actual decisions for the social security administration) should obtain legal disability representation as soon as possible. Why? Because, if your initial claim is turned down, your appeal (this first appeal is called request for reconsideration) is likely to be unsuccessful as well. Unfortunately, reconsideration appeals are also decided by DDS, and a staggering 81% of them are denied.

If your request for reconsideration is denied, your smartest move is definitely not to give up, but to file a second appeal to have your case heard before a federal administrative law judge (ALJ). Studies have shown that ALJs are much more likely to approve disability claims than disability examiners, especially when claimants have legal representation. In fact, some statistics show that claimants who have legal representation are about twice as likely to win benefits as those who choose to represent themselves.

Why would any claimant choose to represent themselves before a federal judge? Perhaps because many do not want to pay for legal services, but this is not a valid reason to put the outcome of your disability claim in jeopardy. In disability cases, lawyers are paid only if they win the case, and there is no upfront money involved. Also, the fee that disability lawyers can charge is capped at 21% of the claimant’s total backpay, up to a maximum of $6000. This is far less than attorney fees for other types of cases.

Other individuals who represent themselves may think that their appearance will be a simple matter of going before the judge and telling their story. However, disability hearings require far more proof than a verbal recitation of your medical condition and symptoms. In order to persuade an ALJ, you must disprove the disability examiner’s claim that you are able to do your past job or other work by arguing that your skills, age, education, or other limitations prevent you from doing so.

This requires a firm grasp of the Medical Vocational Grid. A good disability attorney will review everything in your medical records and work history to find evidence that the disability examiner erred in his or her decision, and help persuade a judge that in actuality you do not fall anywhere on that grid. Most claimants have no idea what is in their disability file or the precise reasoning behind their denial, and even if they read over the information they will not have the legal background necessary to form a sound legal argument based on what they learn.

A disability attorney can also review your files to see if there are any additional medical tests or statements that could strengthen your case, or that could help you meet a blue book listing (the book of impairments that SSA uses to classify disabilities). If it is a child that is under consideration, there may be certain psychological reports or tests, even statements from teachers, needed to refute a denial. The average claimant may not even be aware of these options or know how to obtain them.

Essential Questions

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?

Related pages:

Social Security Disability Lawyers - Fees and Representation Information
Social Security Disability Representation - Disability Lawyers and Representatives
Why does Representation increase the win ratio at a Social Security Disability or SSI Hearing?
Social Security Disability Issues and Representation
How does Social Security Disability Representation work?
Does Being Represented On A Disability Claim Win The Case Faster?
Who can provide disability representation in North Carolina?
Should you hire a Non-Attorney Disability Representative instead of a Lawyer? The Rationale for getting Disability Representation

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.