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Roger N. Meyer "...of a different mind "
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  BENEFITS AND ENTITLEMENT PROGRAMS

Index

 

Like most Aspies, I'm a rules freak. That very manifestation of AS is responsible for my understanding of how benefits and entitlement programs work through their rules, regulations, program operating manuals and directives. Just like any good advocate, I tend to keep the law books and regulations in my car as I arrive at a conference room or an administrative hearing with my other tool, a "virtual paddle" of a two by six with one side covered with soft leather and the other with dulled spikes. I use this virtual tool as a respect reminder to authority figures when things get a bit rough for my clients, whether they're paying me or I'm representing them pro bono.

One of the articles below refers in its subtitle to special education lawyers or advocates. Advice in this article is good for an attorney or advocate for any complex entitlement program.

Two articles cover Social Security. I wrote the first one titled Social Security Documentation -- Strategy and Tactics for Adult Claimants in 2003. For the most part, it remains accurate, although the reader must remember that neither my article nor the one below it, Practising Social Security Law, constitutes legal advice. As I indicate elsewhere in the description of my business, I have a very high "win" rate because I'm involved with the claimant very early, often before any application is first filed. I specialize in administrative-level representation, although I have appeared before administrative law judges. The second article is written by two excellent Northwest appellate attorneys, Alan Graf and Kimberly Tucker. It's one of the best "hornbooks on real-life practice" on line for Social Security attorneys and experienced lay advocates. It appears on this web site by kind permission of the authors.

Most attorneys do not accept SSI cases "from scratch." They prefer first involvement at the administrative law judge level, where, because of the lengthy delay between your application and the hearing, if you prevail, their fee then makes it financially worthwhile for them to represent you. Some will take your case on appeal beyond that level up one more "bump" in the administrative appeal process, but beyond that point, some attorneys may advise you to find a lawyer whose practice is restricted to federal court appeals.

Because of the great number of indigent claimants, it is quite difficult for the average person with a good claim to have their case handled by no-cost county or regional legal aid services, or your state's Protection and Advocacy representatives. If your case is accepted, rest assured that in both both agencies, your case will be handled by a skilled, highly experienced lay representative.

A major note of caution to individuals considering applying for SSA disability benefits: The system has gotten a lot tougher and far more adversarial in the past decade than at any time in history. I strongly advise you to engage an attorney very early on in the administrative development of your case. The times have changed, especially under our current, nasty-minded Republican administration and Congress. Overall, the quality of administrative law judges at the level you will have your first appearance has diminished considerably in legal knowledge, respect for claimants, and neutrality. Some of them truly have axes to grind, and once assigned such a judge, your representative is expected to do the best job s/he can, but the most likely next step will be an appeal. Before their recent appointment, many administrative law judges had no experience with social security law. There is no effective oversight over administrative judges' misconduct that holds these judges to any uniform set of practice, due process minimums or ethical standards. That's the reason their decisions are, literally, "all over the map." No case can any longer be considered a slam-dunk. Some District and US Circuit Courts of Appeal are extremely hostile to even the most persuasive argument by your lawyer, especially if before you engaged the attorney, your case development and the record was badly managed, with all kinds of holes, gaps in the record, and equivocal documentation that only an experienced representative or attorney knows how to challenge and to preserve objections in the record for eventual consideration by a US federal court judge.

Articles linked by their titles on this page are likely to be a bit dry, as they emphasize the "how to" in addition to explaining the reasons "why for.

Social Security Documentation -- Strategy and Tactics for Adult Claimants

Practicing Social Security Law - by Attorneys Alan Graf and Kimberly Tucker


The Medical vs the Social Inclusion Model of Vocational Rehabilitation

Signatures, Consent, and How to Make Your Disagreement Count in the Special Education Process

How to Find and Use Professionals for Your Case -- Shopping for and Working With a Special Education Lawyer or Advocate

 


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