Social Security Disability RC

How to file for disability, Filing for SSI
Disability Requirements, Disability Status
How long is the wait?, Disability Application
Social Security Disability list of impairments
How to Qualify for Disability, Mental Disability
Disability Lawyers FAQ, Disability Back Pay

Why does Representation increase the win ratio at a Social Security Disability or SSI Hearing?

Why does representation result in a higher win ratio at a hearing? The answer is fairly simple. Disability hearings are similar to various types of court proceedings in which A) solid case preparation and B) a proper presentation of the relevant arguments and positions--specifically, pertaining to why the individual should be approved to receive disability benefits--are both necessary in order to win the case.

To explain, we should sum up what a disability attorney or non-attorney actually does to prepare for a hearing.

1. Before the hearing, the representative will begin to gather updated medical records.

These updates will be reviewed and evaluated to see if the case can be strengthened. They will also be sent to the administrative law judge (ALJ) who has been assigned to hear the case.

Getting medical record updates is crucial because, by the time a case gets to a hearing, there will be no recent medical records in the file. To see what we mean by recent records and to learn why this is so important, you may wish to read the following page: Recent Medical Records for a Social Security Disability or SSI case.

Why will there be a lack of recent medical evidence in the file? Because the case development that is done on a disability claim--such as getting the records together, obtaining information on the claimant's work history, contacting individuals who are knowledgable as to the claimant's condition and daily activities, etc--stops after the reconsideration appeal phase is completed.

To reiterate, once a case has been denied on a reconsideration appeal, the social security administration will no longer do any work on the case. Which means that when a case gets to the hearing level, the only records that will be in the case file will be many months old, making the chance of getting an approval very slim to nonexistent.

Many claimants who arrive at a hearing unrepresented may be completely unaware of the fact that all case development becomes the responsibility of the claimant or their attorney once the case gets to the hearing level, or, rather, once it moves beyond the reconsideration appeal level. And this can have the effect of making the case completely unwinnable.

2. Sometime before the hearing, the disability representative will usually attempt to obtain a medical source statement statement from a claimant's treating physician.

While it may be true that not all disability claim representatives do this, it would be hard to imagine a skilled and competent one that didn't. A medical source statement from a claimant's treating physician can help summarize the claimant's various physical or mental shortcomings (their residual functional capacity) and can effectively illustrate just how and why it is that the claimant cannot be expected to return to work.

Is the medical source statement the same thing as getting a handwritten or typed statement from one's doctor? Very often, claimants who are not represented will attempt to procure a statement from one of their doctors. And, generally, because the claimant is completely unfamiliar with what the social security administration is looking for (with regard to evidentiary requirements), they will be given a short statement from their doctor that simply states that they cannot return to work. This is not at all what a disability examiner or a disability judge is looking for.

To the contrary, an adjudicator will not even be able to use such a statement because it will not be supported by the doctor's history of providing treatment, nor will such a short statement point to any objective signs or observations as to the claimant's range of physical or mental abilities.

By comparison, when a disability attorney or a non-attorney representative attempts to obtain a medical source statement, they send a prequalified form to either one or several of the claimant's treating physicians. Typically, the form will be geared to whether or not the impairment in question is physical or mental. And in some cases the form may be completely geared to a specific condition such as degenerative disc disease.

Disability representatives, whether of the attorney or non-attorney variety, will usually employ time-proven, systematic techniques for establishing the credentials of a case. This fact alone tends to answer the question "Why does Representation increase the win ratio at a Social Security Disability or SSI Hearing?". Going to a disability hearing is, in many ways, no different than developing an investment portfolio or developing a game plan. It all begins with having the proper management (a disability representative would be analogous to a portfolio manager or a coach) and then following a strategy that has demonstrated past success.

This is not to say, of course, that unrepresented claimants do not win disability cases. Many claimants who go to hearings alone manage to win their claims, but usually this is because the case was strong enough that the administrative law judge had already decided, based on the strength of the evidence, and often prior to the hearing taking place, to award disability benefits. And most likely these are not the sort of cases in which it was necessary to actually present a theory of the case and prove that the evidence satisfied the Social security administration definition of disability.

Here is a short list of considerations for claimants who go to hearings without the benefit of representation.

1. Be prepared to answer questions from the administrative law judge and your own representative (if you have elected to have representation). This includes questions regarding your daily activities and your work history.

2. Have a thorough knowledge of what is contained in your medical records; some individuals are surprised to know what their physicians have written about them.

3. Make sure that you know how to get to your local hearings office, because you need to be at your hearing on time. Being late even by ten minutes can mean that your disability hearing may have to be rescheduled (because most judges schedule multiple hearings back-to-back), which can take weeks or months.

Essential Questions

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

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

Who can help me file for disability?

Related pages:

Social Security Disability Lawyers - Fees and Representation Information
Social Security Disability Representation - Disability Lawyers and Representatives
Why does Representation increase the win ratio at a Social Security Disability or SSI Hearing?
Social Security Disability Issues and Representation
How does Social Security Disability Representation work?
Does Being Represented On A Disability Claim Win The Case Faster?
Who can provide disability representation in North Carolina?
Should you hire a Non-Attorney Disability Representative instead of a Lawyer? The Rationale for getting Disability Representation
Will getting retirement affect my application for disability based on COPD?
Receiving Social Security Disability benefits if you are blind
Qualifying for disability in Missouri

Will I qualify for disability in Missouri?

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, 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 homepage and view the "about this site" link near the bottom of the page.