How it Works – The Role of Representation
Nearly 70 percent of disability cases get denied on initial application. Neither where you live nor your condition increases your chances of receiving benefits. This large percentage of denials raises questions about the need for disability advocacy services and the role of a disability advocate.
What are advocacy services and do you need them? What does a disability advocate do? Who best represents you in the complicated process of getting Social Security Income (SSI) or Social Security disability insurance (SSDI)? Do you need a representative?
Let’s get some answers.
Do I Need Disability Advocacy Services?
The Social Security Administration (SSA) ensures claimants the right to representation. In layman’s terms, they want you to know that someone is allowed to help with your case. SSI representatives from the SSA offer assistance to applicants.
However, disability advocacy services refer to advocates or representatives outside the social service agency — they do not work for the Social Security office. Family and friends are not included in this role. These advocates know the Social Security system and what is needed to win your case.
Representation gives you an ally — someone to support you through the Social Security process. Disability brings hardship and confusion into your life. Advocacy services offer clear explanations, support and a helping hand at at time when you most need it.
Plus, using an advocacy service increases your odds of getting a favorable decision. These professionals know how the Social Security process works, what the SSA looks for to award benefits and the importance of deadlines. You will appreciate their expertise and help.
What is the Role of Disability Advocates?
A disability advocate receives specific training in representing you in the disability benefit process. Once qualified, his or her role becomes helping you get your SSDI claims approved. With this knowledge and hands-on experience in the system, an advocate ensures that your voice is heard — accurately.
In general, disability advocates:
- Explain clearly and simply the SSDI or SSI process to you
- Answer your questions which seem to go unaddressed by the SSA
- Provide information about your human rights as a person with a disability
- Help you identify areas of discrimination and address them
- Support you in upholding your rights by speaking and writing on your behalf
In reference to the Social Security process, the role of the disability advocate is to:
- Clearly explain the process and make you aware of deadlines
- Help you gather needed information and documentation
- Ensure you meet deadlines and provide sufficient evidence
- Prepare you to speak to administrative law judges (ALJs)
- Write appeal briefs to the Appeals Council
- Speak for you at hearings and court proceedings
- Increase your chances of receiving benefits
The common theme to denied benefit claims is this: no representation. Typically, these applications lack proper documentation and therefore, a denial letter is sent. The expertise of a disability advocate ensures the proper supporting evidence is filed with the application.
Furthermore, reversing a denial in an appeal is more likely with the help of a disability representative. But, there is more. Disability advocacy also ensures you get the amount of benefits you deserve.
Who Best Represents Me?
The SSA does not dictate who you choose as an ally in applying for benefits or appealing a denial. A friend or family member is an option. However, emotional and moral support falls short of getting you the best results.
You are better represented by someone with knowledge of and experience in the process. Look for someone with skills, such as the abilities to:
- Clearly communicate
- Answer your questions
- Support your specific disability
- Understand the SSDI and SSI processes
- Negotiate on your behalf
Ask about a potential representative’s training and knowledge of the Social Security process. Check his or her experience with disability cases, including the number of cases won. And, specifically look for someone who worked with your disability in the past.
Said another way, you need a representative who thinks and acts like a Social Security representative, an administrative law judge or an Appeals Council member. This perspective helps them recognize gaps and identify missing information or oversights in the SSA’s denial of your benefits. They then identify the ways to best support your case with documentation.
representative specializing in disability cases prove knowledgeable and offer the needed experience. However, this expertise is not necessary. The social security law is not considered law on the first four levels of the court system. So, legally, no representative is required unless you take your claim to Federal Court — the last option.
For a free case review and to learn more about what disability advocacy services can do for you, contact us today.