What is a Disability Advocate?
A disability advocate is someone who is trained specifically to help get qualified Social Security Disability claims approved.
Most people seek the help of a disability advocate only after their initial application for Social Security Disability has been denied benefits, even though you are entitled to representation by a Social Security Disability advocate at each stage of the application and appeals process.
More than two thirds of initial claims for Social Security Disability benefits are denied. This is, in part, because the Social Security Administration has very tightly defined what exactly is considered a disability.
Basically, according to the SSA, you are only disabled if you cannot perform any kind of work you have done before and can’t reasonably be expected to able to do any other work which is available.
What Can Your Disability Advocate Do?
Your Social Security Disability advocate can help you file a Request for Reconsideration. He or she can also represent you at your hearing before an Administrative Law Judge.
Should your case still be denied, your disability advocate can represent your case as it goes before the Social Security Appeals Council and if necessary, can help with your case before Federal Court.
Your disability advocate may be a Social Security lawyer or may simply be a professional who helps people win disability claims. If your disability advocate is a lawyer, he or she may represent you all the way to Federal Court.
There is no regulation requiring you to use a disability advocate during the appeals process, but most claimants find it advantageous. Your chances of having your claim accepted in a timely manner increase dramatically when you have competent representation.
How Are Disability Advocates Paid?
A disability advocate will not charge you any money out of pocket. They receive their pay as a percentage (never above 25%) of any Social Security Disability back pay which is issued to you.
Should I Hire A Social Security Disability Advocate?
You may think you qualify for disability benefits because you believe you have a medical condition that prevents you from taking part in normal daily activities like going to work every day. However, about 60% of initial applications are denied so to try and avoid that happening and the possibility you may need to lodge an appeal you should be prepared before you file your application.
One of the best ways to help ensure you qualify for disability benefits is to talk to a disability advocate first who will help you to gather all the evidence you require to win a successful claim. You’ll need to consult the SSA’s Blue Book listing to determine what records and medical documentation are necessary in your application for SSD benefits.The advocate can check to make sure the medical evidence clearly indicates that your disability is preventing you from going to work for at least 12 months. The advocate can check through the results of your medical tests and request you get some more recent tests done if it is likely to help with your claim.
If your claim is denied you can file an appeal and your Social Security disability advocate can help you file a Request for Reconsideration and can also represent you at your hearing before an Administrative Law Judge. If your claim is still denied your disability advocate can represent you when you are asked to go before the Social Security Appeals Council and if required, may help with your case if it needs to go to the Federal Court.
What Can I Disability Advocate Not Do?
There are a couple of things that a disability advocate cannot do, as opposed to a disability attorney. A disability advocate cannot file your appeal to a federal district court if your claim is denied by the SSA's appeal council.
Only lawyers who are bar certified are allowed to file an appeal to a federal district court. And while disability advocates and attorneys both are allowed to cross examine and question medical experts and other professionals, a lawyer may be better adapted at cross-examining due to all of the training.
Social Security Disability Advocates Who Take Cases Near You
When you file a claim for Social Security disability benefits, receiving help from an attorney can help you receive the compensation you deserve. However, disability lawyers are not the only sources of assistance when the time comes to file a disability claim. You also can seek help from one of the Social Security disability advocates who takes cases near you.
What Does a Disability Advocate Do?
A disability advocate can help you file a request for reconsideration, which represents the first step of the appeals process. You resubmit the same claim a second time to be reviewed by a team of medical examiners at the Social Security Administration (SSA).
If your initial appeal comes back denied, a disability advocate can provide support during the second step of the appeals process. The second step of the disability benefits appeals process involves presenting your case in front of an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ)
Your disability advocate can be a professional who specializes in helping applicants receive approval for disability claims or an attorney who works on a pro bono basis. State and federal laws do not require disability applicants to work with a disability advocate, but receiving support can make the difference between having a claim approved or denied.
Why Should I Hire a Disability Advocate?
A disability advocate provides many of the services that are provided by a Social Security disability attorney. You receive advice on how to submit the most persuasive claim, which includes gathering and organizing medical evidence. Your disability advocate also ensures you file your disability claim before the expiration of the statute of limitations.
Free Disability Advocates and Attorneys
Many disability benefit applicants believe that if they hire a disability attorney or advocate to help them lodge their application for disability benefits, they will have to pay upfront fees for the service. This is not necessarily the case as disability attorneys and advocates do not typically charge up-front fees.
This is because they work on the basis of contingency fees. This means they are only paid if they have won your disability benefits’ claim on your behalf and you are awarded benefits. If they fail to win your disability benefits claim then you will owe them nothing in legal costs.
When you have been awarded your disability benefits this is when your attorney or advocate is paid. The person will either be paid 25% of your backpay or $6,000, whichever is less. This is taken from your backpay by the SSA so you are not responsible for paying the fees when you receive your disability benefits.
This service offered by disability advocates and attorneys basically means you don’t have to pay any fees out of your own pocket so you can get a free service. As long as you meet the medical requirements determined by the SSA you should benefit from seeking free help from a disability attorney or advocate.
Next Steps You Can
If you have a severe ailment or a disability that will be it impossible to go back to work in 12 months, then you may want to seek the counsel of a disability advocate or attorney. Disability advocates or attorneys do not cost any upfront money, they only get paid if you win your case.
A disability advocate will be able to help you get all of your paperwork and medical documents in order to help your claim. They will also help appeal your claim, if you are denied initially. To speak with a disability advocate or attorney, fill out our free disability evaluation.