Social Security Advocate for the Disabled
Applying for Social Security Disability is not an easy task. It is a time consuming and frustrating effort that ends in failure a lot of times. Data shows that almost 70% first time applications for Social Security Disability are rejected. This is in part because of the fact that the Social Security Administration has very narrowly defined what constitutes a disability.
The appeals process can take month and a lot of times, even years to be resolved.
Social Security advocate for the Disabled
When you are disabled, it becomes even more difficult to manage all these issues. Which is why it is a good idea to hire a Social Security advocate for the disabled to handle your case for you. A disability advocate is specifically trained to help claimants who are qualified get their claims approved. A disability advocate may either be a professional trained to help people with their disability claims, or he/she can be a fully qualified Social Security disability lawyer. If your advocate is also a lawyer, then he or she can also represent your case (if it goes that far) before a Federal Court.
Usually, most people will only ask for help from a disability advocate after their initial claims application has been rejected. However, you are entitled to the services of a Social Security advocate for the disabled at any stage of the application process.
What can your Social Security Advocate do for you?
You Social Security Advocate can help you at every stage of the application process.
- Stage 1 – Initial Application
At this stage, your advocate can help you with your Social Security Disability Application. This means helping you by checking that all the documents including evidence of disability and medical records are in place. In case there are gaps in your documentation or application, the advocate can point them out. Having an advocate at the first stage means that the chances of your claim being approved are higher.
- Stage 2 – Request for Reconsideration
In case your application for Social Security Disability benefits was rejected, then you need to put in a Request for Reconsideration. Here, your advocate can help you file your appeals request.
- Stage 3 – Hearing
In case your Request for Reconsideration is also rejected, then you can file a Request for Hearing before an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ). This is the time that you may have the highest chance of having your claim approved. So it best that your advocate represent you during the hearing to ensure that get the best chance to win your case and get awarded your benefits.
- Stage 4 – Appeals Council
In case your Hearing also did not go well, then you can take your case to the Appeals Council. At this stage, it is better to have an advocate who is also a lawyer to help you win your case. Unfortunately, a lot of times, the Appeals Council upholds the decision of the Administrative Law Judge.
Is it cheaper to hire a social security advocate for the disabled who is not a lawyer?
No. It doesn’t make any difference whether your advocate is a lawyer or not. The Social Security Administration regulates all advocates – lawyers or otherwise – in terms of the fees they are allowed to charge. All advocates must work on “contingency”, meaning they only get paid if they win. And they are only allowed to charge a maximum of 25% of your back pay – but only up to a maximum of $6,000. They can charge you extra for other expenses such as postage and copying.