Q Should I Hire a Social Security Disability Attorney or an Advocate When Applying for SS Benefits?
While it doesn't matter to the Social Security Administration (SSA) if you use an attorney or an advocate to help you apply for Social Security (SS) Disability or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits, being represented by a seasoned disability attorney offers clients clear advantages. For example, disability attorneys undergo years of education and training to ensure that they completely understand the SS application process. Additional benefits of hiring a skilled disability attorney include:
- Attorney-client privilege. When working with a licensed disability attorney, applicants enjoy attorney-client privilege. Your attorney is required to keep all of your information personal and confidential.
- Strict ethical guidelines. Attorneys are required to abide by strict ethical guidelines when representing their clients.
- Easier appeal process. If your application for SS or SSI benefits is denied, a disability attorney can help you appeal that decision to the federal district court. Non-attorney disability advocates are unable to do this.
- Option to file a grievance. Should you have a problem with your disability attorney, you have the option of filing a grievance with the state bar regulatory commission; you do not have the same recourse when working with a non-attorney disability advocate.
Also, while disability attorneys and non-attorney disability advocates receive the same fee—paid by the SSA out of an applicant's back payment benefits—a non-attorney disability advocate does not have to meet the same educational requirements as a lawyer. While disability attorneys are required to have a four-year bachelor's degree, a three-year juris doctorate degree, and pass the exacting state bar exam, non-attorney disability advocates are only required to have a bachelor's degree or equivalent work experience, pass a criminal background check, have liability insurance, and complete a written exam. For the same price, you can work with someone with much more impressive credentials.
Do You Need Help Applying for Social Security Benefits?
The knowledgeable legal team at Keefe Disability Law has extensive experience helping applicants apply for and obtain the SS Disability benefits they need and deserve. Contact our office today for a free case evaluation or to request a free copy of the book, The Five Most Frequently Asked Questions About Social Security Disability.