Since non-attorney representatives and disability lawyers can charge the same fees, usually it makes the most sense to hire the one you with the most years of experience, which should also be the one you are most comfortable with.
If you decide to hire somebody to represent you at your hearing for Social Security disability, such as the Disability Advocates Group or a disability lawyer in Raleigh, you can either choose a non-attorney advocate or a disability attorney.
In both cases, generally the individual you hire won’t be paid unless your disability claim is won. And just in case no one has informed you, both are directly paid by the Social Security Administration (SSA) from your back pay benefits. Non-attorney advocates and disability lawyers are both entitled to receive the same fee amount when they represent a disability applicant.
What Are The Differences Between A Disability Advocate And Lawyer?
The major differences between a disability advocate and attorney are their training and education levels.
Disability Attorney: A person must meet the following qualifications in order to become a lawyer:
– A four-year college degree (bachelor’s degree)
– Juris Doctorate (JD) degree (normally a three-year legal studies program), and
– Admissions to the state bar (a rigorous bar exam must be passed).
Disability Advocate. The following requirements have been established by the SSA in order to be directly paid by the Social Security to act as a non-attorney advocate/representative:
– A bachelor’s degree or qualifications that are the equivalent that are derived from work experience and training
– Complete continuing education courses
– Passage a written exam that the SSA administers
– Professional liability insurance, and
– Passing a criminal background check
Advantages to Hiring A Disability Attorney
When making your decision on whether to hire a non-lawyer representative or disability lawyer, the following advantages of hiring an attorney should be considered:
– Lawyers are bound by ethical obligations and professional conduct rules to represent their clients zealously, while non-lawyer representatives are not held to these same standards (which doesn’t mean these individuals are unethical).
– Lawyers are bound to keep confidential anything that you tell them due to attorney-client privilege standards.
– Attorneys have numerous years worth of specialized training, and that might better enable them to identify and resolve potential legal problems and to draft legal theories for good reasons why you should receive benefits.
– A non-attorney representative is unable to appeal your claims at the federal district court level, and
– Through the grievance commission of your state you are able to file a complaint against your attorney if you feel that your lawyer failed to act in your best interest; with a non-attorney representative, you do not have this same recourse.
According to statistics, at the hearing level, lawyers have higher approval rates. Those numbers are disputed by non-attorney representatives at times, who claim that statistics for non-attorney representative are a reflection of hearing where a claimant was represented by an untrained person such as a family member. We recently sent our readers a survey, where we compared the outcomes of disability applicants who used disability attorneys versus using non-attorney representatives. The approval rates when a non-attorney representative was used were around the midway point between approval rates for those who represented themselves and those with lawyers. See our survey statistics for the details on whether or not it makes sense for you to use a non-attorney representative.
Disadvantages of Hiring a General Practice Lawyer
Attorneys are able to practice in different areas of the law in the state they are licensed in, which means an attorney may only occasionally work in disability law. However, a majority of attorneys who practice in the area of Social Security disability law specialize in disability. If you decide to hire a lawyer, make sure they specialize in disability law and a few other areas such as Medicare law, long-term disability insurance or workers’ compensation (as long as they are closely-related fields) or specifically in Social Security disability law.
Non-lawyer representatives only have disability clients, and that means they have more focused knowledge compared to a general practice lawyer.
It is very important when selecting a representative (non-attorney or attorney) to know the number of disability claims that the person has won at the ALJ hearing level. Another important thing to know is the number of claims a representative ends up taking to the hearing level since non-attorney groups and law firms frequently refuse to represent disability claimants when they feel there is not a good chance of success. They d this to improve their approval statistics.
Be Sure That You Hire a Disability Advocate Instead of a Lawyer
When it is not as crucial for your representative to be a licensed and a trained attorney, then using a disability advocate such as the Disability Advocates Group of Raleigh, NC, is the way to go. These non-attorney representatives go by several well-known names:
– disability advocate
– disability representative
– claimant representative
– legal representative
Although there is not anything inherently wrong with those titles, at times, they may be confusing, and misleading at times.
How To Find A Local Disability Advocate
If you have decided to hire a disability attorney or disability advocate like Disability Advocates Group of Raleigh, NC, then you should pull up online reviews of the advocate and then give them a call to see if it’s a good fit for both of you.