Social Security Disability Resource Center
Overview | How to Qualify | Applications
Requirements | How long it takes | Back Pay
Mental Disability | What is a disability? | Tips
SSI Benefits | How to Win | Disability Awards
Hearings | Appeals | List of Disabling Conditions
Getting a Social Security Disability Attorney or Representative for your case
Because finding experienced and competent representation can be crucial to winning a social security disability or SSI disability claim, especially for cases that will inevitably be presented to an administrative law judge at a hearing office, it is always in your best interest to find a disability attorney or representative who specializes in social security cases only.
This is an important distinction to make. Some lawyers handle a wide variety of cases, ranging from medical malpractice to worker's compensation to long term disability insurance claims. You do not want someone like this handling your claim. Lawyers who divide their practices between so many different areas of law seldom ever become true experts in the area of social security law and procedure. And they seldom ever develop a comparable amount of case preparation experience as compared to disability attorneys and representatives who do nothing but represent social security claimants.
For this reason (basically that you want an expert on your side, not a generalist), you will want to choose a representative who restricts his or her practice to social security representation.
How do you designate a representative for your case? Typically, the first step is to contact a representative by calling their office directly or by filling out an online form. In either case, the objective is to give the representative a chance to evaluate the basics of your case. If the representative ascertains that they can assist you and you, likewise, choose to have this individual represent your disability claim, then you will do the following:
1. You will sign an SSA-1696. This is the appointment of representative form that is used to authorize someone to represent your disability claim. Generally, the individual you have chosen to help you with your claim will supply this form to you and will simply sign and date the form. The representative will then submit this form to the social security administration. Once SSA receives this form, you will officially be represented and social security will be on notice to keep your representative fully informed regarding actions that are taken on your case. In keeping with this, when social security sends you correspondence, they will send a copy to your representative. Likewise, in deference to the fact that you have representation overseeing your claim, the social security administration will not attempt to contact you by phone without first obtaining permission from your representative.
2. You will sign a fee agreement. This form will also be returned to the social security administration after you have signed it. What does the fee agreement do? It allows your representative to receive a fee for winning your case. The fee is equal to 25 percent of your disability back pay, up to a certain maximum fee amount (to see the current maximum fee that is allowed for a representative, go here:SGA).
All fee agreements have to be approved by SSA. Be sure to read your fee agreement before signing it to make sure that you are comfortable with what your representative expects to be reimbursed for. Remember: the fee for representing your case is strictly regulated by the social security administration; however, your representative can charge for other expenses in the fee agreement, such as for postage and the cost of copying records, as well as the cost of obtaining updated medical records.
3. Your representative will generally have you sign medical release forms. These include SSA-827 forms which are the medical release forms used by social security to obtain medical records from your medical treatment providers. Very often as well, your non-attorney representative or disability attorney will also have you sign their own medical release forms so they can also obtain copies of your records (usually this is done to prepare for a disability hearing).
Part 2: What does a Social Security Disability Lawyer or Representative do for your claim?
Social Security Disability and SSI Resource Center
The Most Basic questions about Getting Disability Benefits
Social Security Disability SSI and whether or not you can work
Common Mistakes to avoid after being denied for Disability
Social Security Disability SSI Questions and Answers
More Social Security Disability SSI Questions and Answers
Common Questions about Social Security Disability and SSI
Winning Social Security Disability or SSI Benefits
The SSI Disability Benefits Program
Social Security Disability SSI and Doctors - Yours and Theirs
Social Security Disability and SSI Claim Reviews
Social Security Disability SSI System and Benefits for Children
Denials, Appeals, and Getting a Disability Lawyer or Representative
What you should know about Social Security Disability and SSI Denials
Questions about Disability Lawyers and Hiring a Disability Attorney
Various Types of Benefits including SSI, Mental, and Child benefits
Social Security and SSI based on Mental Disability
Social Security Disability or SSI Benefits for Children
Disability Benefits through Social Security
Filing for Social Security Disability or SSI Benefits
Social Security Disability SSI: Medical Evidence and Records
Filing your claim for disability benefits
Eligibility for receiving disability benefits
Resources on this site
Social Security Disability, SSI Terms and Definitions
Previously answered questions regarding SSD and SSI
About the Author of SSDRC, Tim Moore
The SSDRC Disability Blog
For Individuals living in North Carolina
Disability in North Carolina
North Carolina Disability Lawyer
Getting disability in North Carolina
Should I be Represented by a Lawyer or a Non-Attorney Disability Representative?
What is the Role of a Social Security Disability Representative?
Getting a Social Security Disability Attorney or Representative for your case
Will an attorney or representative help me win North Carolina disability benefits?
Should I get a disability representative or lawyer in North Carolina?
Responsibilities of the Disability Representative Before and After the Social Security Hearing
When does Social Security pay the first disability benefit check?
Am I disabled with obesity, muscle spasms, bone spurs, and advanced arthritis in my spine?
Social Security Disability decisions by judges and examiners
If you apply for disability in Mississippi
Getting a Disability Lawyer in Mississippi
Information on the following topics can be found here: Social Security Disability Questions and in these subsections:
Frequently asked questions about getting Denied for Disability Benefits | FAQ on Disability Claim Representation | Info about Social Security Disability Approvals and Being Approved | FAQ on Social Security Disability SSI decisions | The SSD SSI Decision Process and what gets taken into consideration | Disability hearings before Judges | Medical exams for disability claims | Applying for Disability in various states | Selecting and hiring Disability Lawyers | Applying for Disability in North Carolina | Recent articles and answers to questions about SSD and SSI
These pages answer some of the most basic questions for individuals who are considering filing a claim.
Filing for disability - How to file for SSD or SSI and the Information that is needed by Social Security
How to Apply for Disability - What medical conditions can you apply and qualify for?
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?
How to Prove you are disabled and qualify to win disability benefits
How do you prove your disability case if you have a mental condition or impairment?
Social Security Disability Back pay and How Long it Takes to Qualify for it and receive it
Social Security Disability SSI - Eligibility Requirements and Qualifications Criteria