Obtaining Representation and How It Affects Your Claim

The Impact of Representation on Your Claim

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 (SSA) is required to notify anyone who's denied Disability Benefits of their options for getting legal help. The SSA's internal Operations Manual has a section for "Advising Claimants About Their Right to Representation".  This SSA policy states:

We do not encourage or discourage representation, but we inform claimants of their right to be represented and provide a referral list of legal aid or other non-profit organizations that provide free legal services to any claimant who is unrepresented.

-- SSA Program Operations Manual System (POMS), GN 03910.030 Advising Claimants About Their Right to Representation (https://secure.ssa.gov/apps10/poms.nsf/lnx/0203910030)

These Referral Lists are to be maintained by local SSA Field Offices (FOs) and Hearing Offices (HOs) for the organizations within their service area.  The lists are in alphabetical order and provide local bar associations, legal aid societies and organizations, law schools with legal aid programs, and non-profit and community organizations.

In addition to the Referral List, the SSA's Policy also states claimants should be given SSA Publication No. 05-10075, 'Your Right to Representation' (https://www.ssa.gov/pubs/EN-05-10075.pdf)

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, read the SSA Publication 'Your Right to Representation' (https://www.ssa.gov/pubs/EN-05-10075.pdf)