How does Social Security Disability Representation work?

You are allowed to have representation on a Social Security Disability or SSI case at any point in the processing of your claim. Many claimants do not seek representation until their claim has been denied at the disability application level. Others wait until their claim has been denied at the first appeal level (which is the reconsideration appeal).

My own opinion, as a former disability examiner, and as someone who has been involved in claimant representation, is--

A) While representation is not necessary while a disability application is being processed, it can still be of benefit to some individuals, particularly those who have conditions, either mental or physical, which may make it difficult for them to keep up with paperwork and with responding to requests for information from the social security administration (when you have a disability lawyer or a non-attorney representative, this individual will handle these tasks for you).

B) If you get denied on a disability application, you might as well seek representation. The reason for this is that the first appeal following an application for disability is a request for reconsideration. Reconsideration appeals generally have more than an eighty percent rate of denial. This being the case, most claimants who get denied at the first level will find themselves having to file a reconsideration appeal which will also get denied, which will then necessitate the filing of a request for a hearing before an administrative law judge.

Therefore, if you get denied initially, you really might as well get a representative because it will be extremely likely that for you to win disability benefits you will need to be seen by a judge. And hearings before disability judges are helped enormously when claimants have representation.

Statistics, in fact, indicate that individuals who go to disability hearings without a disability attorney or a non-attorney representative (in the social security appeal system, your designated represenative does not have to be an attorney; in fact, many non-attorney representatives are former disability examiners and former employees of the social security administration) have, approximately, a forty percent chance of being approved for disability benefits. Those who go to hearings with a representative have a better than sixty percent chance of being approved for disability benefits.


Social Security Attorneys and Disability Representatives - what you should know

About the Author: Tim Moore is a former Social Security Disability Examiner in North Carolina, has been interviewed by the NY Times and the LA Times on the disability system, and is an Accredited Disability Representative (ADR) in North Carolina. For assistance on a disability application or Appeal in NC, click here.

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