Disability Advocate vs. Disability Attorney: What’s the Difference?


Posted by: Chris

The process of applying for Social Security disability benefits is not easy. Many people have trouble filling out the appropriate forms, figuring out what documents to submit, and understanding the application process in general. Furthermore, most initial claims are denied, which means many disabled applicants must face the complex appeals process. For these reasons, a lot of applicants seek help from either a disability advocate or disability attorney. What’s the difference? Here’s what you should know:

Qualifications

Most disability advocates have a college degree, but it is possible to become an advocate with work experience and training that is equivalent to a college degree. Advocates are required to pass an exam on disability regulations and rules to ensure they thoroughly understand the subject. Because the laws constantly change, advocates must also fulfill continuing education requirements. 

You cannot become an attorney without obtaining a law degree and passing the state bar exam. Attorneys are also required to complete continuing education requirements to ensure they are familiar with the changes to Social Security rules and regulations. Overall, attorneys must go through more extensive training and complete higher levels of education than advocates.  

Services

Both advocates and attorneys help applicants with every step in the process of obtaining disability benefits. However, attorneys are trained to craft strong arguments, cross-examine witnesses, interpret laws, and present persuasive cases, whereas advocates are not. Because of this, attorneys typically have more to offer their clients than advocates.

There’s no doubt that an advocate can assist with certain parts of the application process, but an attorney can be your greatest asset in the fight for disability benefits.

Fees

You may assume that hiring an attorney would cost far more than hiring an advocate, but that’s not the case. The Social Security Administration (SSA) prohibits advocates and attorneys from charging more than 25% of your back pay or $6,000, whichever is lower. There are some advocates that offer their services for free, but in general, most advocates and attorneys charge their clients the same fees. Since the cost is the same, it’s best to choose an experienced attorney rather than an advocate. 

If you need help obtaining Social Security disability benefits, turn to the experienced attorneys at Armstrong & Vaught, P.L.C. right away. Let our attorneys stand by your side and aggressively fight to obtain the benefits you deserve. Call us now at 918-582-2500, toll free at (800) 722-8880, or contact us online for a free consultation with a skilled attorney.