Wednesday, October 31, 2007

How your Social Security Disability Representative Can Disadvantage your Disability Claim

I know most of us generally place our faith in a person whom we have chosen to represent our interests. However, when it comes to the representation of social security disability and SSI disability claims, a relevant and seldom considered question is "does your disability representative (a disability attorney or non attorney claimant's representative) use methods which improve the process for your claim, or methods that have the opposite effect.

Some representatives actually use methods which may delay or even harm your Social Security disability claim. Naturally, you may be thinking "what could my representative do that would disadvantage my disability claim? Well, one good example is the manner in which paperwork is submitted by a claimant's representative to social security.

Many Social Security representation firms and individual disability attorneys individuals send in paper disability applications, which are then distributed to Social Security employees to load into the Social Security computer system. If Social Security employees are already struggling to take scheduled disability claims (And they are--currently, Social Security Administration offices, in all their various forms, are understaffed, due to lack of funding from Congress, i.e. there is too much work and work is piling up in most Social Security offices, payment centers, and hearings offices), what do you think happens when a claimant's representative sends in a paper application along with accompanying disability forms?

Answer: that paper disability claim is likely to sit on the social security employee's desk for some time before they can find the time to sort through all the forms. And, even after that occurs, the social security employee may find that the disability lawyer did not properly address supplemental security income issues, work activity, or did not fill out all necessary disability forms. In short, applications submitted on paper---versus initiating a claim online---and poorly completed paperwork---will mean that the social security employee who has been assigned to the case will have to make time to contact the applicant and verify the missing and/or incorrect information. It should go without saying that this will consume valuable time, time which most applicants for disability benefits can ill afford to lose.

A more beneficial way to handle the initiation of a social security disability claim is to do the following:

1. Ask your representative to file your disability medical information online.

2. You or your disability representative should schedule a disability interview with a local Social Security office.

3. While you are waiting for your disability interview, your representative can forward the paperwork into the social security office to be associated with your claim.

4. Once your disability interview is completed, your disability claim will be ready to forward to the state disability agency (known in most states as DDS, or disability determination services).

Return to the Social Security Disability SSI Benefits Blog