There are thousands of Social Security Disability advocates across the United States. What exactly is a Social Security Disability advocate? What do these individuals do? What is the difference between a Social Security Disability advocate and a Social Security Disability attorney? Most importantly, should you use the services of a Social Security Disability advocate to help you with your Social Security Disability claim? Before you consider hiring a Social Security Disability advocate there are some things you need to know...
Social Security Disability Advocate vs. Social Security Disability Attorney
The first thing you need to understand is that while some Social Security attorneys may be Social Security advocates, not all advocates are licensed attorneys. What does this mean to you as a disability applicant?
When applying for disability benefits or filing an appeal, it is crucial that you have proper representation. Statistics show that applicants with proper legal representation have a better chance of winning their Social Security Disability claim than those applicants who do not have proper representation.
A disability attorney attends years of school and is held to the highest ethical standards by his or her Bar Association. Attorneys also carry malpractice insurance and are better equipped to protect your interests during the disability application process. A disability advocate, on the other hand, is not required to attend law school and he or she does not report to any higher organization.
No education or licensing is necessary to become a Social Security Disability advocate. In fact, your friend or family member could do the same job a Social Security Disability advocate can do. With that said, there are some highly qualified Social Security Disability advocates. Some advocates do have a license to practice law and others train extensively in the Social Security Disability process. That does not mean, that you should hire a Social Security Disability advocate who is not a licensed to practice law. In fact, there are some good reasons not to do so.
The Drawbacks of a Non-Attorney Social Security Disability Advocate
Social Security Disability advocates who are not licensed to practice law are not as strictly regulated as Social Security Disability attorneys. A Social Security Disability advocate can train to be an advocate through a “Work at Home” opportunity program without ever fully understanding what it really takes to win your Social Security Disability claim.
Social Security Disability attorneys, on the other hand, go through years of schooling to practice law. They understand the legal aspects of the Social Security Disability application process and will be better equipped to handle your disability claim from a legal standpoint.
Another thing to consider when hiring a disability advocate is whether or not the advocate has your best interests in mind. There have been some allegations that many advocate agencies actually work for insurance companies and that a conflict of interest may arise during the representation of your disability case.
The surprising thing is that disability advocates and disability attorneys tend to charge the same exact fees – either twenty-five percent of your Social Security back payments or $6,000 (whichever is less). Since Social Security attorneys and Social Security advocates cost the same, it makes more sense to hire a licensed attorney to represent you during your disability claim rather than hiring an advocate who may not be qualified to provide you with the best representation.
Another thing to consider when hiring a disability attorney or a non-attorney disability advocate is that only an attorney can represent you in the Federal Court should your Social Security Disability case advance to that level. If an advocate is not able to win your case at the hearing level and you find yourself having to file a Federal District Court appeal, you will be on your own and will be left scrambling to find an attorney who can represent you during this stage of the appeal process.
The Common Sense of Social Security Disability Representation
The bottom line is... When filing an application for disability benefits or filing for a Social Security Disability appeal, which would you rather have representing you? A licensed attorney who has been through years of schooling with extensive legal experience or an advocate who recently finished a “work from home” online training program? While some advocates are highly-educated and extensively trained, it is impossible to tell how qualified an advocate is. Your best option is to hire a licensed Social Security attorney who can properly represent you through all stages of the Social Security application and appeal process.