The Social Security Advisory Board collected data over the last two years to study the impact that professional representation has on the claims process. In its published report, the board was unable to reach a conclusion about the impact of representation, but it did find that the number of cases with professional representation at the initial application level has increased significantly and suggested that the Social Security Administration might be able to benefit from this trend.
The board reported that the SSA completed nearly 3.4 million initial disability claims in 2011, up from 2.5 million five years earlier. The agency spent about $3.6 billion processing those claims in 2011, up about $700 million from five years earlier.
At the same time that the number of claims has been rising, the number of resources available to the agency has been decreasing. The board reported that the SSA currently has about 82,000 employees, down from almost 90,000 in 2010. The Office of Budget expects that more employees will be lost this year.
The report suggested that the increased representation for claimants may help to reduce the agency’s workload by helping claimants to put together more complete applications earlier in the process and preventing more claims from proceeding to a hearing. In such cases, not only does the representative decrease the agency workload by helping to prepare the claims, but also by ensuring that fewer claims have to go through the costly and resource-intensive process of getting a hearing.
While the report suggested that having a representative who can help to prepare a more thorough application may improve chances for having a claim approved (since approximately 70 percent of cases receive a final decision at the initial application level), it also said that data was inconclusive about whether representation helped improve the success of a claim.
The board recommended some changes for improving the interaction between the Social Security Administration and these representatives, including improving the electronic filing process and better monitoring the conduct of claimant representatives.
North Carolina Social Security Disability Lawyers
A qualified Social Security lawyer may be able to help you get the benefits you are entitled to under the law. Call the Law Offices of James Scott Farrin at 1-866-900-7078 for a free evaluation of your case and to find out how one of our North Carolina Social Security disability lawyers may be able to help you.