If you have a disability especially if it is considered as severe, then you should consider hiring a Los Angeles social security disability lawyer as your representative when filing a claim for benefits under the Social Security Administration (SSA)’s disability programs or appealing your application. Having a representative, whether it’s an attorney or another qualified individual, will lessen your burden of having to gather evidence or expert witnesses and help you go through your business with the SSA. Here are some things you need to know about if you want to hire a representative: Your representative has the power to act on your behalf before the SSA. He may do the following: - Obtain information from your Social Security case file - Help gather medical records or pertinent information to help establish your claim - Appear with you to any interview, hearing, or conference - File a request for reconsideration, hearing, or appeal before the Appeals Council - Prepare you or your witnesses during hearings You can have more than one representative or appoint someone from a firm, corporation or organization. However, you cannot hire someone who has been disqualified or suspended from representing others before the SSA or who are prohibited by law to act as a representative. In terms of fees for services, the SSA requires that any fee agreement or fee petition is approved by the agency. It should be filed with and approved by the SSA and no further charges shall be paid unless authorized by the agency. To have a valid fee agreement, according to the SSA it should: - Be written and signed by the claimant and the representative - Be approved and will result to past-due benefits - Be no more than 25 percent of past-due benefits or $6,000 whichever is less Any representative who charges or collects without authorization from the SSA may face criminal prosecution and may be suspended or disqualified from representing anyone before the agency. However, in case your appeal has been elevated to Federal Court, your fee need not be authorized by the SSA as long as it does not exceed 25 percent of all past-due benefits.