Friday, August 22, 2008

Where Social Security Disability Attorneys fall short

You would think that having an attorney to file your disability application for you would be a good thing, in that it would help your claim to move more quickly through the system. However, while it is almost always beneficial to have a disability lawyer represent your case in the latter stages of the disability determination process (the reconsideration appeal or the final appeal before an administrative judge), lawyers, in a few limited instances, can actually prove to be more of a hindrance at the initial filing stage.

In fact, some disability attorneys actually delay a decision in their clients’ cases because they fail to understand one crucial thing about social security workers--—they have an enormous, almost impossible caseload, so any claim that requires them to do extra work will be put to the side until...well, for as long as possible.

Attorneys may try to help their clients file for disability by sending in a paper disability application to SSA, sometimes hand-written, which must first be deciphered and then typed into the system by the unfortunate claims representative (CR) that is assigned the claim. While this seems like an easy task, it is just one more thing that must be fit into a packed daily appointment schedule, not to mention walk-in applicants.

Any disability lawyer that wants to help a client get a claim processed as quickly as possible should schedule an in-person interview for that client with a social security CR (claims rep). The attorney should also be sure to fill out an online disability report for the client (form SSA-3368).

Disability lawyers assisting clients in filing for disability should also be sure to send in all of the other paperwork associated with their clients’ disability claim, including the SSA-827 medical release forms, and form SSA-1696, which notifies social security who has been appointed as the claimant’s representative. And of course, the fee agreement.

In this way, a disability attorneys can be sure that their involvement is truly helpful, and at the very least is not going to frustrate an already overworked SSA employee, who will then put the application on the bottom of the heap of applications already waiting to be processed.

In short, paper applications are always given less priority than scheduled appointments and even walk-in clients. So don't let your attorney send in a paper application. If your disability attorney does this, he or she is probably not aware that, by doing so, your claim is being disadvantaged simply will sit there for quite a while before it is even entered into the system.

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