Social Security disability insurance (SSDI) benefits provide vital assistance to thousands of disabled workers and their families each year, but the process of applying for SSDI benefits and obtaining them can feel daunting. Unfortunately, anxieties can be heightened by the presence of fraud and deception in the Social Security disability advocacy industry. We want to be sure you know your rights and how to choose and identify a quality, reputable representative who will act in your best interest. While this post is certainly not an all-inclusive guide to choosing the right Social Security advocate for you, there are a few key things to look for when seeking representation, including fees, services, and business history.
Fees, Services, & Business History
When working with a SSDI representative, be sure you understand exactly what and how they charge for their services, so you don’t wind up paying hidden fees. Brown & Brown Absence Services Group only charges a fee if we help our clients obtain an award of SSDI benefits, and when our clients do obtain an award our fee is a one-time charge that only occurs if your claim is awarded and results in past due benefits. If you receive private long-term disability (LTD) benefits, our fee may be covered by your insurance carrier.
In addition to reviewing the fees charged by your chosen representative, ensuring that they are experienced and specialized in their field will help you find an advocate who is well-equipped to help you throughout every stage of the SSDI application process. Many local representatives or attorneys are only able to handle the hearing (or third) stage of the process. Brown & Brown Absence Services Group has acquired benefits for tens of thousands of clients over the last fifteen years, and we manage all aspects of our clients’ Social Security disability claims from the very beginning.
When you work with a reputable representative, they will communicate key information to you throughout the entire claims process. The Social Security Administration (SSA) may want you to have medical tests or consultations done when they are reviewing your disability claim. In these cases, both you and your representative will receive notifications directly from Social Security, so you will be able to keep your own records of the major events associated with your claim. If at any point something doesn’t feel right to you, or your representative tells you that you need to attend an appointment that you aren’t familiar with, trust your gut and contact your local Social Security office to verify that the information they gave you is correct.
While all SSDI applicants ultimately want to get their claim awarded as quickly as possible, it is important to note that high win rates are not necessarily the most important factor when seeking a trustworthy representative. Many individuals need to wait quite a while — potentially even upwards of three years — to obtain a final decision on their claim, as many states face a significant backlog of disability claims waiting to be processed. Additionally, the Social Security disability review process is extremely strict as part of the SSA’s efforts to identify fraudulent claims and prevent them from entering the disability roles. Unfortunately, this often means that qualified and deserving applicants need to wait anywhere from six months to three (or more) years to obtain a final decision.
We recognize that the SSDI application process can be overwhelming in and of itself, never mind adding health issues and the lifestyle and financial challenges that being out of work can bring, but we want you to know that there are resources available to help you. We never want our clients — or anyone going through the SSDI process — to feel like they are going through it all alone.
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You can also help keep yourself organized by creating a free my Social Security account, making it easier to track and manage your various types of Social Security benefits and easily find information about each in one location.
There are many additional resources available to help you with your finances, health, and more. One example is MedlinePlus — a Federal government website with a focus on health conditions, diseases, treatments, and medical industry updates. If you feel overwhelmed or are unsure of what step to take next, please do not hesitate to reach out to your local Social Security office, your medical providers, or a reputable SSDI advocacy firm like Brown & Brown Absence Services Group for additional assistance, guidelines, and resources.
Nothing in this post is intended as advice or a suggestion to elect or not elect to claim benefits of any kind, including Social Security benefits, nor is it intended as financial advice in any way. The decision to claim benefits is a personal one that is contingent upon each individual’s unique circumstances.