Social Security Disability Attorney Qualifications and Expenses

Choosing a Disability Attorney or a Disability Representative

Individuals who seek to be represented on their disability claim with the social security administration can obtain representation at any time. The representative may be a disability attorney, or a non-attorney representative.

A disability attorney is usually an individual who has chosen to specialize in handling social security cases; however, some disability attorneys are not true specialists and only handle the occasional social security case, incorporating such cases into their mix of work which might include personal injury, traffic, and malpractice cases.

For the most part, it would not be wise to use such an individual. Social Security Disability Law is reasonably detailed and appearing before a federal administrative law judge at a hearing should only be a task performed by a representative who has a strong knowledge of how disability claims are decided, how SSA makes mistakes on claims, and what types of evidence will be required to persuade a disability examiner or a disability judge to approve a claim.

Additionally, a good familiarity with the following will all be necessary to ensure the best possible representation for a claimant:

A) The SSA Disablity Evaluation handbook (the blue book),

B) How onset, or when a condition began, is determined according to the social security administration (for example, alleged onset, or AOD, as claimed by an applicant versus the established onset of disability, or EOD, that is decided by a disability examiner or administrative law judge after a decision has been rendered), and

C) The medical vocational guidelines that guide most of the decisions delivered on claims.

Unfortunately, a "part-time" disability lawyer may not be up to the task of delivering such qualifications.

A disability representative, as was stated, can also be a non-attorney. Such individuals are often former SSA employees, such as hearing office personnel, social security field office personnel, and former disability examiners (examiners make decisions on disability claims at the disability application and reconsideration appeal levels). These individuals, owing to the fact that they have a personal familiarity with the disability system and how it works, from an insider's perspective, often make excellent representatives.

However, not every non-attorney representative is a former employee of the system. And for this reason, claimants may wish to inquire into the credentials of their possible representative, regardless of whether they are an attorney or a non-attorney representative.

Continued at: The Cost and Expenses of a Disability Attorney or a Disability Representative

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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