The first step is to go through the training you need to become an advocate. A number of private companies have training that you can go through at home, but it isn't necessary to purchase one of these training programs to be able to handle jobs in disability processing. It is also possible to get training for this type of disability job through an established company that offers the service. The Social Security Administration's publication "Your Right to Representation" outlines the requirements for becoming a disability advocate. The publication spells out the rights of someone filing for disability insurance. Advocates must be very knowledgeable about this information.
Certification to jobs in disability advocacy comes from the Social Security Administration itself. There is no other certification from an educational authority or governing body. In-depth knowledge of the way the Social Security Administration works is necessary for certification. An applicant submits his or her request in writing for a representative using Form SSA-1696, "Request for Representation."
Some jobs in disability processing assistance are more specialized than others. Some people specialize in Social Security disability benefits, and others may specialize in state disability insurance advocacy. When you set up your home office, you'll need a computer with Internet access, a fax machine, phone, and copier. With each disability job you will be completing and copying a lot of paperwork, so it is important that you and your office be well organized to manage the case file paperwork as efficiently and thoroughly as possible.
Specialists with jobs in disability advocacy charge fees of at least 10% of the benefit award. Social Security requires recognized disability advocates submitting Form SSA-1699 to receive their fee directly from the Social Security Administration rather than the beneficiary. Certain disabilities can apply for what is called advanced standing so that they can get their application processed quicker than applicants with other types of disabilities. A Certified Disability Specialist will make less when handling advanced standing cases because their fee is a percentage of Social Security back pay that the applicant is awarded. The back pay dates to the day the person became disabled and continues until the Social Security Administration sends the first benefits check.
If you're interested in jobs in disability advocacy, you must be aware that Social Security rules change frequently, and the process of applying for benefits is complicated. You must be up to date in your training and knowledge of the rules and regulations of the Social Security Administration. The time frame for having an application processed will depend on the type of disability the applicant has and the amount of paperwork involved. A good disability specialist can greatly speed up the process of getting an applicant his or her Social Security benefits.