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Hiring a representative for SSDI claims

Receiving Social Security disability benefits only comes after a process that is often long and complicated. Some applicants choose to hire a representative to guide them through the process. A representative, such as an attorney, can do things on behalf of their client, including represent them in interviews with the Social Security Administration and request reconsideration.

Social Security will work with a representative just as they would with the applicant. In any dealings with Social Security, the representative can accompany or continue on behalf of their client. When the process is over, the representative will receive their own copy of the claim decision.

Here are a few things a representative can do:

  • Get medical records or other information to support the client's claim
  • Get information from a claimant's Social Security file
  • Help the client and witnesses prepare for court hearings and questioning
  • Request a hearing or Appeals Council review

As far as payment goes, a representative must file a fee agreement or petition with Social Security. They will authorize a fee, and the representative cannot charge an amount higher than the authorized fee. If either party disagrees with the authorized fee, they can request that Social Security review it. Any written fee can be approved before the claim is decided. The authorized fee can only be charged when both parties sign the agreement, the claim is approved and the claimant received past-due benefits.

Once you and your representative have filed the claim, you can easily check the status online. Among other things, this will show you if a decision has been made.

Source: San Antonio Express-News, "Social Security and You: Disability benefits," Oscar Garcia, Nov. 18, 2011

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