Amidst all the ads, how to choose a competent SSI disability advocate
What Do I Need to Know to Hire a Competent SSI Disability Advocate?
Hiring a Supplemental Security Income (SSI) disability advocate or SSI attorney proves wise when your claim is denied. Most cases receive denial letters on their initial application. Working with representation increases your chance of receiving benefits on appeal. (In fact, these representatives improve your odds of approval when involved from the start.)
However, one Google search or glance at a phonebook (if you are old school) presents an overwhelming number of SSI advocate and attorney options. How do you know if you are hiring a competent SSI disability advocate? What qualities should you look for in a SSI attorney? After all, the names ranking at the top of Google may just be those who paid for ad space.
Five Factors in Choosing a Competent SSI Advocate
Contacting a qualified, effective SSI disability advocate saves you time and frustration. Plus, you are more likely to receive benefits as these professionals understand which documentation best supports your case.
To know you are hiring well, consider these factors when perusing advocate names on the internet.
Years of experience in disability law wins cases. Look for an advocate or attorney who has experience — time processing cases, advocating at hearings and writing appeal briefs. Also, ask what percentage of cases are disability cases. Advocates and attorneys specializing in disability offer expert insight into the process. While this may not be a representative’s only experience, his or her percentage of disability cases should be high.
Finding someone familiar with your disability proves beneficial as well. Ask potential advocates about their experience processing cases with your type of medical problems. Familiarity with your condition gives advocates an edge in representing you with the needed evidence and supporting documentation.
In addition to experience, credentials help identify quality representatives. The National Organization of Social Security Claimants’ Representatives (NOSSCR) credentials disability advocates. Their stamp of approval let’s you know that you are hiring quality. They also sponsor two conferences per year and publish a newsletter with current cases, news and trends. These resources give SSI advocates and attorneys continuing training and keep them current on SSI issues.
Disability advocates work on your behalf in every area of the SSI benefit process. They track deadlines, identify needed documentation, gather medical records, fill out appeals and reports and speak on your behalf at hearings. In other words, they support you and act as your ally. Avoid advocates or attorneys unwilling to commit to such services.
Furthermore, expect individualized, personal attention. An advocate who submits written briefs to the judge for review and meets you in person a few days before your hearing says your case matters. Turning you over to a paralegal proves a red flag — find another representative who demonstrates wanting to meet your needs him or herself.
When you first talk with a potential disability advocate (even in a free case review), you should feel heard and valued. Good representatives take time to understand your case and your medical condition. The conversation should be honest, clear and easy to understand. The person you hire should be able to explain complex processes in simple language without jargon.
The ability to contact an advocate is also important. Finding a representative you can easily reach by phone or email says he or she is there to serve you. And, saves frustration. If setting up an initial appointment becomes a hassle, chances are communication will not flow easily.
While technology allows us to communicate around the world, hiring a SSI advocate close to home serves you well. One, this proximity allows you to meet face-to-face as needed. The exchange of documents and signing paperwork becomes easier.
Two, established local advocates know the local Social Security representatives, administrative law judges and the hearing office staff. This relationship helps an attorney or advocate better prepare you for what lies ahead. Plus, a good rapport with people along the SSI chain paves the way for things to go well.
Choosing a Competent SSI Disability Advocate
To narrow the list of options from the start, get referrals from friends, colleagues or family members. This old school, word-of-mouth method ensures you find honest, trustworthy support. You are able to ask specific questions about how the representative handled their case. However, also spend time interviewing the SSI advocate or attorney yourself.
Plenty of scams arise across the internet. Use caution as you research advocates. Avoid services which:
a) Push you to make a decision based on their win percentage. (In fact, advertising win percentages indicates questionable ethics.)
b) Drop cases they cannot win (falsely boosting their win percentage).
c) Concentrate on lead generation and sell your disability case information.
Through recommendations, a bit of research and asking questions, hiring a competent SSI disability advocate becomes a reality. And, SSI benefits are likely to follow.
To find a competent, local SSI disability advocate or SSI attorney to help with your claim, contact us today.