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

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 (85% 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.

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

Related pages:

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

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