Social security disability advocates.
Considering that almost 60% of applications for Social Security Disability Insurance or SSI are denied, an advocate can help ensure you receive the benefits you are entitled to and are treated fairly. As many people know, the system and application process is time-consuming and complicated. Some applicants just give up. Or they may be repeatedly denied. An advocate or a lawyer can assist with filing your claim, contest any denials, attend appeal hearings, and provide a number of other services.
Advocates are regulated by the federal government and Social Security Administration, so there is not a tremendous risk in using them. They also work on a contingency basis, which means you only need to pay them if they are successful. Their payment will be based on a percentage of the money you are able to obtain. Most companies that provide this service only employ highly experienced advocates, so they know the system and can greatly improve your chances of receiving compensation from SSDI. Some of the assistance provided is below.
Services provided when filing a disability claim
They can assist in a number of ways. Disability advocates will help people that have recently applied for benefits, that have been denied, or they can even answer questions for those individuals that are only considering applying for Supplemental Security Income or Social Security Disability. Clients can decide how much they want to be involved in the process and filing the claim. The advocate can handle everything for you on your behalf. Or, if you decide, the applicant can play a more hands on role in the process. The representative provides advise, support, answer questions, and will advise individuals on their legal rights. These advocacy services are available in all states and nationwide.
Representation can be provided too if need be. Every member will be there to represent their clients interests before the Social Security Administration and throughout the claim process. This is offered at all levels, including from the filing of the initial application up to and including the Administrative Law Judge Hearing Appeal and, if necessary, the Appeals Council.
Another complication that people face is that the federal government doesn't make the process very easy and it is time consuming and complicated. The services offered by these advocates include.
- Advising clients on how to file an initial claim.
- Gathering, reviewing, filing and analyzing the appropriate medical records.
- Bringing in a doctor or medical professional for further support if need be.
- Representing you, or bring in an attorney, when your initial claim or in-process appeal is denied.
- Drafting and filing a compelling argument in support of approval of your benefits.
- If you require a further hearing, lawyers can represent you at these, including any Administrative Law Judge Hearings.
- Provide ongoing support, even after you are awarded benefits. For example, this can include a periodic review at no cost.
- All assistance is offered confidentially, timely and in a professional manner.
- They will work with your doctor. Together the advocate and your medical provider will collect data, document and proof your condition and show how its impact your ability to work or hold a job.
While it may take three to six months to know if your claim was approved, the advocate will be ready to support you when you get the results. They can help with any reconsideration requests, which can take about 3 months. Or, if and when the times comes, use them to file a second appeal.
Fees involved for using Social Security advocates or lawyers
As indicated, the advocates will work on a contingency basis. Ensure this is in the contract you agree to before proceeding. This means that their services are provided for free, unless they win your case. Only then will they get paid.
In addition, there are very minimal, or maybe even zero, extra out-of-pocket expenses for clients to pay when you use their services. The fees paid to them will be taken from any back payment owed to you by Social Security when they win your case or help you receive your disability cash payments or compensation.
The federal government regulates the fees that can be charged to consumers. So even an attorney will be operating under the same payment structure. Any disability advocates are required by federal law to work on a contingency basis. This means they only get paid if at the end of the day you are successfully enrolled and receive compensation. In general they can only charge at most 25% of the back pay award you receive. This is defined as any lump sum of monthly benefits going back to when you first became disabled or when you applied for SSDI benefits.
Benefits of using an advocate
Considering that a majority of applications are denied, using a highly trained advocate to assist you in the process of filing or appealing for SSI (Supplemental Security Income) can be very beneficial. As indicated, they also help with the SSDI (Social Security Disability Insurance) process.
SSDI is a form of insurance policy that is for people who are unable to work because of a disability. The bureaucracy that created the program is extensive, if not overwhelming. It also currently supports millions of Americans. The rules and regulations are long and extensive. For example, one chapter is about 10,000 pages long. So the advocate can help explain the regulations and navigate the process for you. They will ensure that every medical record that is required by the government is obtained and filed as needed.
Supplemental Security Income, or SSI, is similar in its level of sophistication. It is funded by tax revenues and pays monthly benefits to people with low incomes and disabilities. In some cases, children may receive SSI as well. So the regulations and rules for this are complicated as well. Many people are denied, but your success rate will definitely be improved with the help of a disability advocate.
While of course no one needs to hire a disability advocate, many studies show that your chance of obtaining and winning your case for Social Security disability benefits or SSI are much greater if the individual is represented by some form of representative, such as an advocate or attorney. They are knowledgeable as to the medical evidence someone needs to acquire benefits for your condition. They will know the ins and outs of Social Security’s rules and regulations. The lawyers are also huge advantages at any administrative law judge (ALJ) hearings. The experience, connections, and knowledge they bring to the application process is very extensive.
Differences between disability lawyers and advocates
While the Social Security considers all of these professionals as “representatives”, in some cases your advocate may be an attorney. So whether the person has a law degree or not, in any case an advocate is someone who supports you throughout the process and will fight on your behalf. Many companies will start the process with an advocate, and then bring in a lawyer if the process becomes more complicated or combative.
While there can be some advantages to hiring an attorney right off the bat, as they may have more experience or education levels, the fact is that they are harder to find. Many companies just don’t have a large number of them on staff. That is one reason that many people use advocates and they ensure a lawyer is on call for more complicated matters. Note that a non-attorney advocate can’t handle your application or appeal after the Appeals Council step. Only an approved disability lawyer can represent you in federal district court.