A Social Security disability advocate is a person who works to help an individual who is seeking benefits from the United States Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) program. Often, a Social Security disability advocate is a lawyer who has in-depth knowledge of the laws surrounding SSDI. This is not always the case, however, as other types of professionals and even family members and friends of the person seeking disability benefits may act as advocates.
SSDI is a United States program that offers benefits to disabled individuals. Sometimes, an individual who needs such benefits seeks help understanding how to apply and which type of benefits he is entitled to. In such a case, he may turn to a Social Security disability advocate for help. More often, however, a person turns to a Social Security disability advocate to speak up for him when he has been denied benefits or is dealing with frustrating red tape.
The exact job a disability advocate performs may depend on the situation. Some people may only need help with figuring out the application process and submitting claims. In such a case, an advocate may provide the information required and assist with submitting the application or claim.
Often, professional advocates have extensive experience and knowledge of the Social Security disability process. They may be able to answer questions and initiate the application process fairly quickly. If an inexperienced family member or friend is providing the help, the process of getting answers and submitting applications or claims may take a bit longer. A loved one who wants to help in this way may find answers by contacting the Social Security Administration or reading written material about Social Security and disability. The Social Security Administration also maintains a Web site that offers extensive information about filing for and receiving disability benefits.
Sometimes a person who seeks Social Security benefits may need more than just information and help with submitting applications. In some cases, people are unfairly denied or experience unwarranted delays in receiving benefits. This is when a Social Security advocate may be needed most. In such a case, a Social Security advocate may act as a representative for the person who needs benefits, representing him in appealing denials or working through delays.
It is worth noting that a person can represent himself when dealing with the Social Security Administration. He is not required to have an advocate. Additionally, a person must be an attorney if he plans to represent another party in a Social Security or disability case that ends up in a federal courtroom.