Q: Are social security attorneys and social security representatives the same thing?
A: No, social security attorneys and social security representatives are not necessarily interchangeable. Social security attorneys hold law degrees. They have not only the educational and institutional knowledge to successfully represent claims, but they have the experience to know how to navigate the process and trouble shoot any issues or delays that may arise. Many social security representatives have a great deal of experience with the claim review process. In fact, many were disability examiners at some point. But there is no requirement that representatives hold law degrees and it can sometimes be difficult to know the level of expertise of representatives. Those who hire social security attorneys should ask if an attorney or representative will actually represent them in court. Some firms have representatives accompany clients to a hearing.
Q: Is it better to appeal or apply again if a claimant is denied after initially applying?
A: Assuming the application and supporting materials were submitted accurately and thoroughly, it is almost always better to appeal instead of filing a new application after initially applying. The claim is likely to be denied again if a new application is submitted, which will add more time to what can be an already lengthy process. Submitting a new application is starting at step one again when appealing will allow the claim to progress to the next level in the process. A claimant should appeal for reconsideration instead of submit a brand new application again. That appeal must be submitted within 60 days of notification of initial denial. Claimants who wish to appeal but have missed that deadline should seek assistance from social security attorneys.