FAQs About Social Security and Your Right to Representation
If you’re going to apply for social security benefits such as Supplemental Security Income (SSI) or Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and you have absolutely no idea how to go about it or if your claim has been denied, then you need to consult with an expert.
All claimants have the right to representation and a social security benefits lawyer is an expert whose services can pave the way for a successful claim. But while hiring a lawyer sounds easy, in social security cases, the rules are different.
Here are important FAQs on social security benefits lawyers:
- What exactly is the claimant’s right to representation?
As a claimant to social security benefits, you have the right to representation – this basically means that you can ask a qualified individual help you with your appeal or to represent you in any proceedings relevant to your claim.
If you opt to exercise your right to representation, your representative shall act for you on your behalf in most Social Security matters.
- Does my representative have to be a lawyer?
Your representative does not automatically have to be a lawyer – any other qualified person who is familiar with you and who knows the Social Security program can represent you. You can actually have more than one representative. The only limit imposed is that you cannot have a representative who is prohibited by law to act as a representative or someone who is suspended or disqualified from representing others before the Social Security Administration (SSA).
- What services can I expect from a representative or a social security benefits lawyer?
Upon your appointment, your representative/lawyer can do the following:
- Obtain your information from your Social Security file
- Gather all your medical records and information to support your claim
- Appear with you or for you in any social security related interview, conference or hearing
- File a request for reconsideration, hearing, or Appeals Council review
- Prepare you and your witnesses for a hearing and questioning any witnesses
- Receive a copy of the decisions made by the SSA
- Is it expensive to hire legal representation in my claim?
No. According to the SSA, any charges or fees imposed by your representative must have been approved by the agency first in either a fee agreement or a fee petition.
You cannot be charged more than the fee amount authorized and generally, it is worth no more than 25 percent of past-due benefits or $6,000, whichever is less.
Most initial applications are denied by the SSA – not because the claim was invalid but because it was improperly filed or lacked the documents needed to get it approved. Thus, it would be advisable for you to exercise your right to representation because aside from the fact that it is cost-efficient, it will save you time and effort in getting your claim approved.
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