Social Security Disability Attorney or Advocate?

Social Security Disability Representatives Attorney or Advocates?

Advocate, Attorney…What is the Difference?

When you’re looking for someone to represent you in your disability case, make sure to find out whether they’re an attorney or an advocate. They’re very different things. An advocate is not an attorney; they have not gone to law school, passed the bar, or done anything to prove their competence other than take a multiple-choice test about social security.

Never underestimate the value of legal training. Law School teaches a little about the law and a lot more about how to think critically. When you’re sitting in your disability hearing and something potentially damaging to your case comes out; that’s when you’ll be glad you’ve got an attorney. Attorneys are trained to undermine assumptions and attack facts that are damaging to your case; it’s just the way we’ve been trained to think. An advocate may know Social Security rules and regulations, but that doesn’t mean they can think on their feet when a problem arises.

Disability Attorney or Advocate?
Advocates and Attorneys are paid the same rate set by the Social Security Administration. The rate is only paid if an application is approved and it is set at 25% of the back payment never exceeding $6,000.

Many of the larger Social Security Disability “firms” employ advocates rather than attorneys. This should be a huge red flag. Essentially these firms are looking to cut costs by employing non-attorneys. If they cut corners with their employees, they’re likely to cut corners on your case too.

Truth is that Judges look at advocates different than attorneys. Think about it: Judges are lawyers too. Lawyers have egos and it’s offensive to them when an advocate walks in and pretends to play the part of a lawyer. While a judge may not say it to your face, I’ve had many behind closed door conversations with judges where they’ve expressed their unfavorable opinions of advocates.

Keep in mind that Social Security Attorneys and Advocates are both paid the same fees. If you’re going to pay for someone to work on your Social Security Disability case why pay an advocate when you can get an attorney to work on your case.

Requirements for an Advocate Set by Law
1.Have a bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution of higher education or at least four years of relevant professional experience and either a high school diploma or General Education Development (GED) certificate.
2. Pass a written examination that the Social Security Administration (SSA) writes and administers which tests the knowledge of the relevant provisions of the Act and the most recent developments in SSA and court decisions affecting titles II and XVI of the Act;
3. Secure and maintain continuous professional liability insurance or equivalent insurance, which SSA determines to be adequate to protect claimants in the event of malpractice by the representative;
4. Undergo a criminal background check to ensure the representative’s fitness to practice before us; and
5. Demonstrate ongoing completion of qualified courses of continuing education including education regarding ethics and professional conduct, which are designed to enhance professional knowledge in matters related to entitlement to, or eligibility for, benefits based on disability under titles II and XVI of the Act.
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