Many Illinois Social Security disability applicants in Springfield, Decatur, Champaign, Bloomington and other communities in central and southern Illinois ask whether they need to hire an attorney to file the initial application for benefits. Social Security has been denying more claims on appeal lately. Some of the reasons for the denials are incomplete or misunderstood forms, and poor development of medical evidence. While you may do the initial application yourself, it may be wise to consult an attorney at the outset.
Filing Your Initial Claim
One way to file your initial claim for Social Security disability benefits is via the Internet at http://www.socialsecurity.gov/disabilityssi/apply.html. Another way to begin the claim process is to telephone the Social Security Administration’s teleservice center at the toll-free number 1-800-772-1213. When you call the teleservice center, you will be able to make an appointment for a telephone interview with a Social Security Administration representative from your local office. The claims representative will then call you back at the appointed hour. Alternatively, you can make an appointment to visit a local Illinois Social Security office to complete an application in person.
To prepare your initial claim, you will need to provide basic information. The information will be entered into a computerized benefits application form. The form will be printed and given to you (or, if it is a telephone interview, will be mailed to you) for signature along with other forms to be completed and signed. Except in the unusual case (when a court has appointed a lawyer), the application for benefits is not to be signed by a lawyer. It is signed by the claimant only.
Helping Someone Else File a Claim
If you are helping someone else prepare an Internet Social Security Benefit Application, make sure you read the important information on the Social Security Administration’s website at http://www.socialsecurity.gov/onlineservices/thirdparty.htm. Some of the requirements you need to know are:
- Do not electronically sign the application on behalf of the applicant. Only the applicant (that is, the person you are helping) may electronically sign his or her Internet Social Security Benefit Application and may confirm that the information provided is accurate.
- In order to appoint you as the applicant’s official representative in dealings with Social Security, the applicant must submit a signed written statement. The applicant should use Form SSA-1696 (Appointment of Representative) for this purpose.
- The primary address in the application must be the mailing address of applicant (the person you are helping) who is filing for benefits. Therefore, unless you live at the same address as the applicant, do not list your address as the mailing address for the applicant.
- In the Summary/Remarks section at the end of the application, provide your: name; agency name; complete mailing address; and phone number.
- If you are the official representative of the person filing for benefits, then you and the applicant should complete and sign Form SSA-1696 (Appointment of Representative). Then, in the “Summary/Remarks” section of the Internet Social Security Benefit Application, you should add: “A form SSA-1696, Appointment of Representative, is being forwarded to SSA on ___ (date).”
After the Initial Determination in an Illinois Social Security Disability Case
In the majority of Social Security disability cases in Illinois and around the country, the initial claim will be denied. But if you are the claimant and you are dissatisfied with the initial determination, you may and you should appeal the denial. Most cases will go through two stages of appeal before the claimant is able to obtain disability benefits.
In most states, including Illinois, the first appeal is called a request for reconsideration. If you request reconsideration, a different team than the one that issued the initial determination will make the reconsideration determination; but the result will probably be the same. Relatively few reconsideration determinations result in a claimant receiving benefits.
The second appeal is to request a hearing before an administrative law judge.
Springfield Illinois Disability Attorneys Available to Help with Social Security Claims
Many Illinois Social Security disability applicants in Springfield, Decatur, Champaign, Bloomington and other communities in central and southern Illinois will benefit from an attorney’s assistance with a request for reconsideration or request for a hearing before an administrative law judge. Illinois Social Security disability claimants who are represented by a disability lawyer generally have better results than unrepresented claimants have. Of course, the results that can be obtained for any particular client in a disability claim will depend on the specific factual and legal circumstances of the client’s case. If you are a central or southern Illinois Social Security disability claimant, you want to request reconsideration or request a hearing before an administrative law judge, and you want help from an experienced Illinois Social Security attorney, please provide a brief description of your claim using the form to the right, and I will respond promptly. Or you may contact me at:
Donald J. Hanrahan
Springfield Illinois Social Security Disability Attorney
Local phone: 217-789-1200
Toll free phone: 800-640-2789
1119 S. Sixth Street
Springfield, Illinois 62703