Claimant’s representatives vs. claimant’s attorneys

Some who appeal the social security administrations denial of their application for disability insurance benefits (SSDI) or supplemental security income benefits (SSI) do not always understand who they have hired to represent them. A representative at the Hearing level conducted in front of an Administrative Law Judge need not be a licensed lawyer. Non-lawyer representatives are permitted to represent claimants. I sometimes get calls from claimants unhappy with their representation and telling me they are only now learning that their representative is not a lawyer. Some of these non-lawyer representatives advertise their services on television and or the internet. Many of these non-lawyer representatives are very good advocates, knowledgable in the laws and rules regulating these proceedings. Some are less responsible and or knowledgeable. I am not writing to criticize these representatives as a group. Just as with lawyers, some or responsible knowledgeable advocates, some are not. My post here is meant to encourage every consumer to ask questions before hiring someone to represent them, stay in touch with that representative to see how the case is developing and know patience is required because of the numbers of cases filed and the limited staffing at the Hearings offices. Come see us in Gainesville if you have questions about your eligibility for disability benefits.