Thursday, November 22, 2007

Using an Attorney to File For Disability

Some readers of this blog and may be aware of the fact that I am a former disability examiner (as well as a former medicaid caseworker). Some may also be aware of the fact that my wife is also a former disability examiner and is a field office claims rep for the social security administration. I mention these facts again to lend background to an annoyance expressed by my wife.

The other day she vented her frustration with disability attorneys who send in paper applications for disability. Why was she frustrated? Because this tends to disadvantage individuals who apply for disability as well as make life harder for social security employees.

You would think that an attorney who actually goes to the trouble of doing this would be helping their clients. And, of course, I commend any social security attorney who provides this level of service for the people they represent. However, good intentions do not always equal good results. For example, submitting a paper disability application can actually have a negative effect on how fast a claim gets processed. Why? Because a paper application has to be manually typed in by whichever claims rep, or CR, receives it. This can equal a lot of time, time that social security employees do not have much of these days due to the fact that their daily appointment schedules (appointments to take disability applications and retirement claims) are literally packed, along with the additional burden of dealing with large numbers of walk-in applicants.

How does a disability lawyer assist his client in getting started on a disability claim without making their claim go as slow as possible? Here's what should be done---If you are an attorney helping someone file for disability, don't submit a paper application. Instead, do the following:

1. Schedule a disability interview appointment for your client with a local social security office.

2. Go online to the social security administration's website and complete form SSA-3368 (the disability report form).

3. Send in to the social security office several copies of form SSA-827 (this is the medical release form used by SSA), along with your fee agreement and the appointment of representative form (SSA-1696).

By doing this, you can assist your client in applying for disability without putting their application at the bottom of a claims rep's priority list. By doing it the wrong way (i.e. by not scheduling an appointment for a claimant to be interviewed and sending in a paper application), you can tick off a social security employee who doesn't have time to decipher a ton of scrawl written on a paper application or time to manually enter the information into the system.

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