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
What does a Social Security Disability Lawyer or Representative do for your claim?
You are allowed to have a representative assist you on your disability claim at any point. On this page, we'll notate what disability lawyers and non-attorney representatives do at various stages.
1. When no disability application has been filed yet - If you have not formally applied for disability with the social security administration, that doesn't mean you cannot have representation. You can contact a lawyer and they can assist you in getting your claim filed. However, your lawyer will not be your official representative in the eyes of the social security administration until you have gone through your disability interview and your claim paperwork has been submitted and received.
2. When the disability application is only pending - Pending simply means that the claim is being processed at disability determination services. Claims are usually decided by disability examiners in under four months but they can take longer. There are no deadlines for arriving at decisions on disability claims and some claims have been known to take as long as a year even at the application level (though this is somewhat rare).
At this level of the system, your representative can help explain how the process works and can assist you in responding to requests for information from the social security administration. Generally, though, there is relatively little for a lawyer to do at this point (before a decision is made).
3. Denial of the Disability Application - This is actually the chief reason for having representation on the disability application. If your case is one of the 70 percent of cases that get denied at this level, you will have a representative in place to get your reconsideration appeal paperwork filed quickly.
4. Denial of the Reconsideration appeal - If your request for reconsideration appeal is also denied (81% are usually denied), your representative will submit a request for hearing before an administrative law judge. It is at this point that your claim may grind to a relative halt. Due to backlogs, it may take up to two years or longer for your request for a hearing to actually result in a scheduled hearing date.
5. Maintenance of the case after the request for hearing - During the time you are waiting for your disability hearing to be scheduled, your attorney will monitor the claim and stay in receipt of notices from the social security office and from the hearing office. When the hearing is getting closer to being scheduled, the hearing office may send an exhibit list to your attorney.
This is basically a listing of everything that is already in the file to be considered at the hearing. This is also the point at which your attorney will probably begin to request updated medical records from your medical treatment providers.
Remember: at this point in time, most of the records in your social security file will be well over a year old. To win your claim, your lawyer will need to present the administrative law judge with recent medical record documentation that points to you being "currently disabled".
6. The Disability Hearing - It is at this level, of course, that your lawyer does what is obvious, which is to present your case and argue, based on the medical evidence in file, statements from your treating physicians, and a knowledge of your work history, that you do meet the standards for receiving disability benefits.
At the hearing, your lawyer may also interact with a medical expert if one has been called to testify by the judge. The judge may also choose to have a vocational expert who can comment on jobs that might be available to you and your ability to take one of those jobs. Your lawyer will often respond to hypothetical scenarios proposed by one of these "called experts".
Responding to expert witness testimony is best handled by an experienced disability lawyer, of course, as unrepresented claimants are generally at a loss to even understand the implications of the information that is being passed from the medical and vocational experts to the judge. In other words, going to a hearing where there are experts by yourself is seldom practical for the outcome of your case.
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?
What does a Social Security Disability Attorney or Representative do for your claim?
Getting a Social Security Disability Attorney or Representative for your case
How will an attorney help me win disability benefits?
Disability Lawyers, Medical Records, and Social Security Hearings
What Expenses Will A Social Security Attorney Charge In Addition To The Fee?
Can a disability attorney speed up my disability hearing case?
Should you get a Disability Lawyer before you File for Disability, or get an answer on your claim?
Using a lawyer for a Social Security Disability, SSDI, case
Am I disabled with obesity, muscle spasms, bone spurs, and advanced arthritis in my spine?
Social Security Disability decisions by judges and examiners
Getting disability approved in Florida
Getting a Disability Lawyer in Florida
Qualifying for SSDI in Florida
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.