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More Social Security Disability Applicants Are Seeking Representation
Date:4/20/2009

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Not all disabilities are alike--the SSA has specific Disability Impairment Criteria for hundreds of specific conditions, from back injuries and arthritis to fibromyalgia and strokes. It's essential to prepare each case with details and in the language required by the SSA to avoid unnecessary delays, a reduced award or denial of benefits.

How does the organization - and who within the organization - will keep you informed on the progress of your claim?
Disability applicants should make sure that the representation organization they choose will keep them regularly updated on the progress of their application, including timely notices of deadlines, documents required or scheduled hearings. Sometimes people assume they'll have regular in-person meetings throughout the duration of their case, Swierczek said. "Knowing the communication approach of the representative you choose is essential in making sure you're not disappointed."

Will you have to attend any hearings?
Approximately one-quarter of SSDI cases proceed to the hearing level where there are hearings before judges. However, this might not be necessary if the representative asks for and receives an "on-the-record" decision, where the judge makes a decision based on a review of information in the file. It does require that your representative create a well-written brief that provides a thorough, factual record of your claim. For example, about 70 percent of Allsup customers at the hearing level never have to attend a hearing because many judges will make a decision without the need for an oral hearing based on the information Allsup presents.

What is the organization's success rate?
No organization has a 100-percent track record, but consumers should look for a representative with a
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