Posts Tagged "applicant"
October 19, 2021
Attorneys Secure Disability Benefits Faster
Hiring an attorney or other representative seems to be helping workers who apply for federal disability insurance.
Legal representation dramatically increases the chances that individuals with disabilities will be awarded benefits at the initial level of review of their applications filed with the U.S. Social Security Administration (SSA), new research finds.
Hiring an attorney has been common when applicants appeal an initial denial to an administrative law judge. What’s new is that they are increasingly getting help earlier – when they first file the application – from an attorney or, in some cases, another representative who has passed an SSA test on the agency’s administrative procedures.
But disability experts have debated the value of representatives amid concerns about unscrupulous practices, such as beefing up their fees by dragging out the application process. SSA pays representatives 25 percent of a client’s back benefits that accrue while he or she awaits a decision – up to a $6,000 maximum fee.
This study – the first to examine attorney effectiveness – finds justification for paying the fees. Attorneys increase the share of applicants who are awarded benefits at the initial level of review from a third to more than half, according to the analysis of SSA data for applicants who received an initial decision between 2010 and 2014.
Hiring a representative “leads to earlier disability awards to individuals who would otherwise be awarded benefits only on appeal,” the researchers said. …Learn More