If your Social Security Disability claim was denied and is going to a hearing, you might be deciding between an attorney or a non-attorney representative for Social Security Disability. Before you make a choice, make sure you know the facts.
The Social Security Administration does not require representatives for hearings at the Administrative Law Judge level to be attorneys, and so some claimants choose to employ the services of a non-attorney representative for Social Security Disability appeals. And while this may seem like a good option, there are several things to consider, and several key differences between the type of representation that you will receive.
Education And Training
While both attorneys and non-attorney representatives must have knowledge of how the Social Security Administration handles Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) cases, there are vast differences between the training and education needed for these roles. A non-attorney representative for SSDI is required to have the following if they want to receive payment for their services:
- A bachelor’s degree or equivalent experience
- Passage of a criminal background check and a written exam from the Social Security Administration
- Professional liability insurance or the equivalent
- Continuing education courses they have completed
Alternatively, an attorney must have the following qualifications:
- A bachelor’s degree and a Juris Doctorate (JD) degree, totalling approximately seven years of higher education
- Admission into a state bar association, including passing a state bar exam
- Passage of a criminal background check
- Continuing legal education courses
Ethical And Professional Standards
When you choose an experienced SSDI attorney to represent you, that attorney is held to a series of standards. If they do not abide by these professional standards, they risk discipline from the court or even removal from the state bar association.
For example, attorney-client privilege protects the communication that you have with your attorney, and prohibits your attorney from repeating any information that you shared in confidence. If you were to choose a non-attorney representative for Social Security Disability, you would lose those protections. The repercussions for any unethical behavior from a non-attorney representative are minor in comparison to those of an attorney.
A Non-Attorney Representative For Social Security Disability Can’t Represent You In Federal Court
Although a non-attorney representative can appear on your behalf before an Administrative Law Judge, they cannot represent you in federal court, since they are not a licensed attorney.
They Are Both Paid The Same Fees
Although you might think that paying for a non-attorney representative for Social Security Disability would be less than the cost of an attorney, it is exactly the same. This is because the Social Security Administration regulates the amount that claimants pay to their representatives.
Payments for legal representation in an SSDI case are made directly to your representative by the Social Security Administration, as a percentage of the retroactive benefit payments you receive. This means that your representative does not get paid unless you are awarded benefits, regardless of their title.
If you are ready to contact an attorney who specializes in Social Security Disability and can bring aggressive and experienced representation to your case, Culbertson Law Group is here for you. You can call our office, or fill out our online contact form. We look forward to working with you as you navigate the SSDI appeals process.