Overview of Disability

Disability Back Pay

Disability Requirements

Disability Applications

Disability Advice Tips

How long do cases take?

How to win Disability

SSD Mistakes to avoid

Disability for Mental

What if you get denied?

How to file Appeals

Disability through SSA

SSI Disability Benefits

Disability for Children

How do I qualify for it?

Working and Disability

Disability Award Notice

Disability Lawyer Q&A

Disability Conditions List

What is a disability?

Your Medical Evidence

Filing for your Disability

Disability Eligibility

SSD SSI Definitions

Recent Questions

SSDRC Disability Blog

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?

Return to:  Social Security Disability Resource Center, or read answers to Questions

Related pages:

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

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