The Impact of Representation on Your Claim
Posted on January 27, 2012
Often times when claimants represent themselves in court, the Administrative Law Judge will postpone the hearing in order for the claimant to obtain legal representation.
The Social Security Administration’s policy on claimant representation states:
Although SSA neither encourages nor discourages representation (see GN 03910.010B.), SSA is required to inform claimants of their right to be represented, if they choose, by an attorney or non-attorney at each step of the administrative review process. SSA also provides more detailed information to claimants who inquire about representation, or who are not represented when SSA makes an unfavorable determination or decision.
Why Choose Attorney Representation?
First, you must remember that each and every one of our clients has specific factual and legal circumstances. This blog is not intended to create an expectation of success for prospective clients. Rather, this blog is intended to highlight some of the things an attorney can do in a case.
Access to Medical Records and Communication with Agencies
Typically, a doctor’s office and hospitals will charge $20 or more to provide copies of medical records. Usually, representatives are able to obtain your medical records at no charge, as long as they are facilities inside the state of Ohio (some other states have analogous rules).
Another reason why having attorney representation is helpful is that attorneys and their assistants deal directly with the Social Security Administration (SSA), the Bureau of Disability Determinations (BDD), and the Office of Disability Adjudication and Review (ODAR) on your behalf. Often times it is difficult to get through to a representative at SSA to have a question answered or to get information. Your representative will make every effort to get your questions or concerns addressed with SSA, BDD or ODAR in a timely and professional manner, and communicate the results to you quickly and in a way you can understand.
Understanding Your Claim and Creating a Game Plan
Along those same lines, having an attorney representative means having a professional on your side that can help you better understand what is happening with your claim. With knowledge of the law as well as an understanding of your disabling condition(s), an attorney can create a “game plan” to assist your claim as well as explain the terms and law you will hear. Without a professional such as an attorney, you would have to depend on whatever information you are able to obtain from Social Security, the internet, or the public library.
Making an Informed Decision
Of course, every person’s case is different, and each requires different amounts of attention and care. Deciding whether or not to obtain attorney representation, or representation of any kind, is a personal choice that must be made carefully. For more information, please visit http://policy.ssa.gov/poms.nsf/lnx/0203910030 which was also referenced in this blog.
Written by Anna Westfall and Attorney Andrew November
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