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How do I Become a Social Security Disability Advocate?

By A. Leverkuhn
Updated Jan 29, 2024
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Some people involved in helping disabled individuals might consider what it takes to become a social security disability advocate and facilitate payment of due benefits by the U.S. government. A social security disability advocate helps individuals obtain their social security benefits when red tape gets in the way of payments. In addition to helping clients to obtain benefits, a social security disability advocate might coordinate disability insurance or facilitate an insurance appeal.

For those who want to become a social security disability advocate, it’s important to understand how this kind of advocacy works. The bottom line is that the most qualified social security disability advocates are lawyers. Attorneys with specialized training act as social security disability advocates in top programs for compensating the disabled.

To really become a social security disability advocate, according to some industry definitions, an individual has to be able to go before an Administrative Law Judge. Generally, skilled attorneys are the ones to accomplish this. Other kinds of social security disability advocates work in various assistive roles.

To become a social security disability advocate in an informal sense, an individual might get related skills by working in a facility for the disabled such as a residential home, or dealing with administrative duties in the office of a firm providing social security disability assistance. People with in depth knowledge of Social Security and Medicaid payout law can be helpful as social security disability advocates who assist in legal work. The important point is that different people define social security disability advocates differently, and it pays to distinguish an informal social security disability helper from a lawyer qualified to recoup social security compensation through the courts.

A great number of third parties are now offering to assist individuals with obtaining social security disability income. Consumer advocates have some general concerns about a lot of these firms, including questions over whether the social security disability advocates will be qualified enough to provide meaningful assistance. There are also procedural concerns about how the social security disability advocate will protect the legal record, and whether a potential social security recipient only has “one shot” at retaining the right help to be able to get their money. Also, some critics claim that some prominent social security disability advocate groups are only shells for companies looking to collect insurance money, and not acting on behalf of individual clients in the way that they may be advertising. The bottom line is that to really become a social security disability advocate, one would have to pass the bar exam and be qualified to practice law in some state or jurisdiction.

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Discussion Comments
By dog1net — On Jun 17, 2013

“The bottom line is that to really become a social security disability advocate, one would have to pass the bar exam and be qualified to practice law in some state or jurisdiction.”

I have been a Social Security non-attorney representative for the last eight years and have represented hundreds of clients on their claims for both SSI/SSDI. I have also argued hundreds of cases before an ALJ and have won the majority of my cases. I have taken and passed the SSA exam for non-representatives. Regardless of whether you are an attorney or an accredited non-attorney representative, to become a really good Social Security disability advocate, you must have a full knowledge of the CFR pertaining to sections 4.04 and 4.16, SSA’s POM’s and Rulings, SSA’s Blue Book of Listings, and the Grid Rules. You should also understand the sequential process SSA uses in determining disability and whether the individual you are representing will either meet a medical listing for the condition(s) that they have, or whether they will meet the RFC requirement for a 12 month disability.

I have dealt with attorneys who demonstrated a very clear knowledge of all of the above, but I’ve also handled some bungled cases where the attorney originally involved was totally clueless. As an example of a case I argued before an ALJ, I was able to get him to award benefits on the claimant’s first claim that was lost at a hearing the previous year because the attorney clearly didn’t understand the claimant’s medical information and did not know how to properly question the ME to determine if claimant was at listing level or not.

The bottom line, then, is that an individual should make sure he/she is being represented by an advocate, either an attorney or an accredited non-attorney representative, who fully understands SSA law pertaining to Title II and Title XVI of the Social Security Act and can fully represent that individual to the best of his ability and knowledge.

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