When you are about to seek help with your Social Security disability benefit application you might turn your thoughts to getting representation. Anyone with minimal training can represent you; this individual would be termed a “disability advocate.” This individual is not an attorney but someone who helps applicants with their claims. There are major differences between an advocate and an attorney and when you are aware of them you can see why it is preferable to hire a disability attorney in San Diego over a disability advocate.
The criteria that a disability advocate must meet has been set by the SSA; it includes the need to be a college graduate or have the equivalent work experience and training, carry liability insurance, pass a test on the rules and regulations of the SSA and pass a criminal background check.
In contrast to these rather simple requirements, the training that a disability attorney in San Diego must have is far more rigorous. Not only must the attorney successfully pass a four year degree program, they must complete law school and then pass the state bar exam. As well as these strict requirements the attorney must be a member in good standing of the local bar association and keep up to date with any changes to the law through continuing education.
Regardless of what area of law is the focus of a lawyer’s practice they are all bound by rules of ethics, disability advocates who are not attorneys are not bound by these strict rules of professional conduct. An attorney has the obligation to represent his or her client with zeal, stay up to date with the applicable laws, keep you fully aware of the status of your particular case and charge a fee seen to be reasonable. If a client has reason to think that the attorney is not maintaining these standards a complaint can be filed with the bar association which may result in disciplinary action. If a disability advocate falls short of your expectations you have no recourse.
One of the hallmarks of a client-attorney relationship is confidentiality. Any and all communications between the two are protected; sensitive information will never get into the hands of a third party. It is fair to say that communications between a client and a disability advocate will also remain confidential, the truth is they are not duty bound as is your disability attorney in San Diego.