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 is the Role of a Social Security Disability Representative?

There are different names for this role. Some individuals prefer to be known as disability advocates while the social security administration (SSA) uses the term "representative", most likely due to the fact that an applicant for SSDI (social security disability insurance) or SSI does not have to be represented by an attorney, but, instead, may choose to be represented by a non-attorney representative. On that subject, two things should be mentioned:

1. An applicant does not have to be represented at all, though this is usually unwise if the claim has progressed to the level of a disability hearing where the decision on the claim will be delivered by a federal judge.

2. Many non-attorney representatives are actually former employees of the social security administration, including former field office workers, such as claims reps (the individuals who take disability and retirement applications), former disability examiners (the individuals who make the decision on initial SSDI and SSI claims), and even former administrative law judges (the judges who hear disability cases).

Regardless of what a representative is referred to as (a disability attorney, a non-attorney rep, an advocate), all representatives perform the same function. At the most basic level, this function is to act as the contact person between the social security administration and the applicant. And this is exactly why, after SSA has been notified that a representative has been named, SSA must provide copies of all correspondence that is sent to the applicant to the representative as well.

Even further than this, SSA must actually ask the representative's permission before directly communicating with the applicant, a stipulation that is designed, ideally, to protect the interests of the claimant.

However, the core responsibility of a representative for a social security disability or SSI claim is to maximize the chances of winning the claim. This is why representatives often review the claimant's file prior to the request for a hearing (to get an idea of where the case stands, what evidence was previously considered, and why the case was denied by a disability examiner).

This is also why representatives will attempt to obtain additional medical record documentation and also qualified statements from an applicant's treating physicians.

A disability representative may attempt to win a claimant's case at the disability application or reconsideration appeal level. However, because the rate of denial at both those levels is fairly high (seventy percent for applications and eight-five to eighty-seven percent for reconsiderations), most representatives will confine their efforts to filing the necessary appeal forms and getting occasional status updates--until the claimant has at least been denied at the first level, the disability application.

This is because, for claimants who are denied at that level, the best opportunity for winning an awarding of benefits is typically at a disability hearing.

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

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