A Social Security Disability representative acts as an advocate for a person applying for disability benefits. The representative serves as the liaison between the Social Security Administration (SSA) and the applicant. The role of a Social Security Disability representative is to help the person they are representing have the best chance of winning monthly benefits.
The attorneys at the Law Offices of Ogle, Elrod & Baril, PLLC, have the experience necessary to act as your disability representative. For a free consultation, call 866-628-8179 today.
Who Can Serve as a Disability Representative?
Both attorneys and non-attorney representatives may advocate for disability applicants.
Many attorneys who serve as disability representatives specialize in Social Security law. Others perform this role as part of a broader practice. A good attorney to work with tends to devote a lot of time to practicing Social Security law. Doing this helps them become familiar and develop relationships with local administrative law judges (ALJs) and stay abreast of the constant changes to Social Security.
The requirements to become a non-attorney disability representative are light, which creates low barriers to entry and makes it possible for a wide range of people to perform the job. Accordingly, some non-attorney representatives are more qualified than others.
While some non-attorney representatives used to work as SSA employees, disability examiners, and even ALJs, others have no more qualifications than the ability to pass a simple test and a background check.
You should be wary of choosing a representative who is not an attorney or does not have a proven background in Social Security law.
When Seeking a Representative, Is It Better to Go With a Lawyer or a Non-Attorney Representative?
While many non-attorney representatives can provide value, lawyers can provide several additional benefits.
Lawyers, by the nature of their profession, have a duty to their clients that other professionals do not have. Their professional standards require them to provide the highest level of service and professionalism at all times. Otherwise, they put their law license at risk.
Attorneys also tend to have more education than the average non-attorney representative. Much of this schooling focuses on fighting cases and winning negotiations, which are two skills vital to the process of advocating for disability applicants, winning claims, and succeeding during an appeal.
How Can a Social Security Representative Help Me Win Disability Benefits?
Your representative can help you in many ways. Once you register someone as your representative, the SSA will send that person copies of all paperwork related to your claim. You can even direct the SSA to deal with your representative instead of with you, in which case the SSA must ask your representative’s permission to talk to you directly. This can protect you from inadvertently saying the wrong thing in a conversation with the SSA and undermining your claim.
Your representative should review your claim file before filing an appeal or attending an ALJ hearing. By doing so, they can determine if you need any additional evidence, such as medical records or doctors’ statements, to bolster your claim. They can work to obtain such evidence before your appeal or hearing.
Do I Need a Representative to Apply for Disability?
The SSA does not require you to have a representative, attorney or not, to file for disability. Many applicants go through the process on their own.
However, this strategy might not be the best. Few applicants get approved on the first try, and even fewer win their first appeal. Applicants have a much higher rate of success when they make it to the ALJ hearing stage, but evidence suggests this is at least partly because many have retained attorneys by that point.
When Should I Hire a Disability Representative?
Ideally, you should hire a representative as soon as you decide to apply for benefits. This way, you increase your chance of getting approved on the first try and not having to navigate the different appeal levels.
If you are facing an ALJ hearing, you should hire a representative as soon as possible. If you receive a denial at the hearing stage, it becomes much more difficult to reverse the decision, even with a strong representative.
How Can I Schedule a Free Consultation With a Disability Attorney?
A disability attorney from the Law Offices of Ogle, Elrod & Baril, PLLC, can help you pursue disability benefits through a compelling application or a robust appeal. We offer free consultations to go over your claim and map out a strategy for success. To set up a time to sit down with one of our lawyers, call our office at 866-628-8179.