Whether or not to hire a Representative is likely one of the first decisions you’ll make regarding your claim. While you’re not required to do so, there are several advantages to hiring a Representative. Not only can they help you collect necessary documents and prepare a legal argument, they are aware of a number of procedural and administrative mechanisms that could aid your claim. They can also make a substantial difference in the amount of backpay you receive once you’re awarded benefits.
Many of these advantages stem from a Representative’s familiarity with concepts such as substantial gainful activity, residual functional capacity assessments, Listing arguments, and the medical-vocational guidelines. Representatives are also familiar with various filing requirements associated with your claim. Overall, they can save you a lot of time, and the best part is that Representative pay is capped by the Social Security Administration.
One of the most important things a Representative can do is evaluate your medical and employment documents to establish an alleged onset date that maximizes your potential benefits. Any awarded benefits will be a function of your application date, claim type, and your alleged onset date. Of course, that’s only a broad summary. The details are where Representatives earn their living: by combing income documents to identify periods below the level of substantial gainful activity, sifting through medical records to ensure they exist in sufficient quality to support a disabled finding as of a specific date, etc.
Disability claims, once awarded, generally include some element of backpay. Depending on your claim type, you may be eligible for benefits as of your application date or one year prior to the application date, though benefits cannot precede your alleged onset date. Representatives understand this process, and they will help you establish the best and most defensible argument for the highest potential award.
Of course, there are also the legal aspects to address. Some parts of the disability process are technical. In addition to the terms and processes above, Representatives are familiar with a multitude of components and requirements that could help your claim, such as when a consultative exam may be required, issues that should be appealed, definitions from social security regulations, and so on. Overall, hiring a Representative could be more efficient than representing yourself.
By: Devon Brady of Premier Disability Services, LLC