If you are a disabled individual applying for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits, it is important to know that you do not have to go through the process alone. It is possible to get help with your claim, and to have someone assist you with the application, and with the appeals process should your claim be denied.
How can someone help me file for SSI?
Naturally you can choose an individual to assist you in completing the application, getting your paperwork together, helping you get to the Social Security Office, and taking you to doctor’s appointments. This could be a friend or family member, and it does not have to be a formal arrangement.
However, it is also possible to have an individual serve as your representative in a formal capacity, giving them the ability to step in for you in handling the progress of your case. This person would need to be appointed through a signed writing that is filed with the SSA. You may choose to make a lawyer your representative, but it is not necessary. The individual appointed to represent you must have “good character and the skills to help you.”
What can a formal representative do for me?
Your appointed representative can help you with filling out paperwork and gathering information. You should choose a person who understands the relevant law and can review your case to see if you are missing information that would help you. Your representative can also contact the SSA to get information for you about your claim, basically stepping in where you would normally have to act.
If your case progresses to an appeal the assistance of an experienced representative becomes increasingly valuable. If you are going to have a hearing on your case in front of an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ), your representative can help by preparing your file for the hearing, preparing you for what to expect for the hearing, giving evidence that helps your case, and challenging unfavorable opinions given by vocational or medical experts who might be present.
Statistically speaking, individuals who have representation from experienced disability attorneys tend to have a better chance of being approved for benefits. The knowledge that comes from knowing what to expect is highly valuable. An expert representative can help prevent your claim from missing information that would help, and can be there to ensure that you are not denied coverage because you were nervous and did not know how to respond to questions or challenges from an ALJ or expert.
Following a hearing in front of an ALJ, you may take your claim in front of an Appeals Council. New evidence can be submitted at this stage and the Appeals Council has the authority to decide your case or send it back to the ALJ.
If you are still denied benefits and feel that you should qualify, your case can be filed in a U.S. District Court.
How would my representative be compensated?
Any representative that you appoint will be limited by the SSA in what they can charge you. If you seek representation by an attorney, they will charge you a fee that is based on a contingency, which means that if your claim is not successful, they will not get paid. They will only receive compensation if you are granted benefits.
It is important to remember that the process of filing for SSI might be complicated, but it is not something you have to go through alone. If you believe you need assistance, there are professionals ready to help you navigate the process, and to work with you to improve the chances of your claim being successful.
Contact Stern Law, PLLC for A Free Consultation
At Stern Law, PLLC, we have compassionate and caring attorneys ready to work with you on your disability related legal matters. Contact Stern Law, PLLC today at (844) 808-7529 for a free consultation with an experienced disability attorney.