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Legal Services

SSLG Practices Law and Provides Legal Services

The Social Security Administration (SSA) will recognize the person assisting you as the Appointed Representative. Under SSA regulations, if you wish to have someone assist you with your claim or appeal, you must complete the form entitled: SSA–1696 Appointment of Representative.

This form is SSA’s official recognition of the person you appoint to assist you. Under SSA regulations, Appointed Representatives can be Attorneys, or non-attorney “advocates”. There is a box on the SSA form in which the representative checks if he/she is an Attorney or Non-Attorney.

The Social Security Law Group is a law firm, staffed by Attorneys. We practice law exclusively in the area of Social Security. We are not “advocates”. Advocates provide perfunctory assistance at the Initial and Reconsideration stages of the Social Security claims process, and then when your case arrives at the most critical stage, a Hearing before an Administrative Law Judge, most of them ”farm-out” your claim to per-diem lawyers that they pay anywhere from $500-$700 as an “appearance” fee – win or lose.

In such cases, you are not the lawyer’s client. The lawyer’s client is actually the advocacy firm that retained them. We see them all the time at SSA Hearing Offices across the country. They walk-in looking for their client that they meet for the first-time minutes before going in front of the Judge. They have virtually no personal relationship with the person they are about to represent and don’t do anywhere near as much preparation as required, or that an SSLG staff attorney does. After all, who can afford to put in that much prep time for $500? Additionally, that Attorney’s own clients are his/her priority, not the advocate’s clients who pay such a small fee. This operational protocol is not an accident. Such an arrangement clearly helps the advocate’s balance sheet by summarily eliminating the Malpractice insurance coverage, salaries, benefits, medical development, and travel costs of the traditional employee/staff attorney relationship. This arrangement certainly helps the advocates, but we believe you, the Client, is the casualty of this “independent contractor” relationship. An ALJ Hearing is one of the most critical events of your entire life. Don’t chance it!

When you appoint us, Attorney Victor J. Arruda is your Appointed Representative throughout the entire process. If your case requires a Hearing, either he, or one of our Associate Attorneys, will represent you personally in front of the Judge. SSA regulations allow a person to hire more than one Attorney when they’re from the same law firm. We have been representing disabled Americans since October, 1994. Our Attorneys are all experienced litigators that specialize in Social Security law, with an average of 17-years’ experience. We have a stellar reputation in front of the ALJ’s and in the SSA Hearing Offices.

Below, are the Legal Services the Social Security Law Group provides to its clients. We also list some of the services and types of claims that we don’t provide assistance with, unless you were a former client of ours.

Title 2 Social Security Disability (SSD)

These are individuals who have paid sufficiently into FICA and can no longer work. If you worked for a State, County, or Local Municipality and that entity paid into FICA, then you too would be eligible for Title 2 SSD. We assist at all levels of the SSD claim process:

  • Initial Application
  • Request for Reconsideration
  • Request for a Hearing before an Administrative Law Judge, if denied at Reconsideration
  • Request for Review with the SSA Appeals Council, if denied at ALJ Hearing
  • File an Appeal/Complaint with the Federal District Court sitting in your area

Call us today at 800-909-SSLG

Title 16 Supplemental Security Income (SSI)

These benefits are for individuals who can no longer work but have not paid enough FICA withholdings to be eligible for SSD benefits, or they’ve paid into a state or local retirement system that did not contribute the SSD portion of FICA and, therefore, are not eligible for SSD benefits. In order to qualify for SSI, you must meet SSA’s strict non-earnings (resources) requirements. If you exceed SSA’s designated resource requirement, you would be ineligible for SSI, irrespective of your medical condition.

Most Americans that have paid into a State, County, or Local Retirement System (Teachers, Police/Fire, etc.) would not be eligible for SSI because they are over the resource limit. If you are disabled, and meet SSA’s resource limit for SSI benefits, then the application process as far as the question of disability is identical to SSD. SSLG assists at the following levels of the SSI claim process:

  • Initial Application for SSI
  • Request for Reconsideration
  • Request for a Hearing before an Administrative Law Judge, if denied at Reconsideration
  • Request for Review with the SSA Appeals Council, if denied at ALJ Hearing
  • File an Appeal/Complaint with the Federal District Court sitting in your area

Call us today at 800-909-SSLG

Survivor’s (Widow’s) Benefits

Some of our clients are disabled and are eligible for a monthly benefit based on their deceased spouse’s work record. The SSA calls these Survivors benefits, we call them Widow’s or Widower’s benefits. If you’re over age 50, and you are disabled, we will represent you in filing a claim for Survivors Benefits on your deceased spouse’s work record. The question of your disability is the same, as is the applications process we note above. So if you’re a widow(er), or you’re not sure if you qualify for such benefits, call us today.

Call us today at 800-909-SSLG

Continuing Disability Review (CDR)

A Continuing Disability Review (CDR) occurs when the Agency has previously approved your case and they have been paying benefits for some time, but they now wish to revisit the question of your disability. They call this a Continuing Disability Review (CDR). Actually, when SSA approved your benefits, they categorized your likelihood of medical improvement and set an internal diary for themselves to review your case in either 1, 3 or 5 years. Because of budgets and workload, they have fallen behind on conducting CDR’s. If you receive a letter from SSA asking you to list your current treating sources and frequency of treatment, etc., that’s a pretty good indication that they have initiated a CDR.

If you receive such a letter from the Agency that they are reviewing your claim, don’t hesitate to call the Social Security Law Group. You don’t have to hire us on the call but we can walk you through the process and offer a roadmap of what happens from the time you receive your written notice of a CDR. If you end up having your SSD benefits terminated because of a CDR, then you can retain us to appeal the termination of benefits. You can also retain us to assist you with the CDR itself.

Call us today at 800-909-SSLG


If you received Social Security Disability benefits as a minor, the SSA Regulations require the Agency to reassess your medical conditions when you reach the age of 18. Why? Because the definition of Disability differs. Once you become an adult, you must now meet the adult definition of Disability, which is different from the Childhood Disability definition. If you have turned 18, and the Agency is reviewing your claim to see if you continue to qualify under the adult Disability rules, you can call us for Consultation and Legal Representation.

Call us today at 800-909-SSLG


We only charge Attorney Fees if we win your case. In addition, SSA must approve our fee before it’s disbursed. Our Attorney Fee is set by Federal SSA regulations and by Congress. Our Attorney Fee comes out of what we call your SSA backpay. The Agency refers to this money as your SSA Past-Due Benefits.

If we win, we cannot and will not charge you a fee that is higher than the statutory SSA maximum fee. The statutory SSA fee is the lesser of 25% (Twenty-Five Percent) of your SSA backpay (past-due benefits) or $7,200 (Seventy Two Hundred Dollars). Below are examples of how this this SSA statutory formula works:

Your SSA Backpay


Our SSLG Attorney Fee

$7,200 (the SSA max fee)

As attorneys, SSA is authorized to pay us our fee directly out of your backpay. If we are representing you and you’re approved, the Agency will withhold the statutory fee and send that amount directly to us. The remainder is then deposited into your bank account.

Practice areas for which we do not provide assistance

We receive a lot of calls from would-be clients asking us to assist them in other matters that are not listed above. At this time, we do not provide assistance or Legal Representation in the following areas of Social Security practice:

SSA Overpayment

These are instances in which SSA says they have paid you Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits that they were not supposed to. They are now seeking to have you repay them those overpaid benefits. If you receive a notice from the SSA that they have overpaid you, there are only two courses of action.

The first is to challenge whether or not you were actually overpaid. In rare instances, SSA makes a mistake and you don’t actually owe them the money. In most instances, though, you have in fact been overpaid. When you file a claim for Social Security benefits, they alert you very clearly at several stages throughout the Application and appeal process that you will need to notify SSA if your medical condition improves, or you return to work, even Part Time. The burden is on you to tell them, not on them to hopefully catch the error.

Claimants are reminded of this obligation again when they are awarded benefits. Once you’ve been approved, you’re no longer considered a Claimant. You are now deemed an SSA Beneficiary. The rules are different for Claimant’s and Beneficiaries. Many of our would-be Clients don’t realize that the overpayment actually is their fault because they returned to work and continued to accept ongoing SSD payments.

The second course of action is to seek a waiver of your overpayment. If you seek a waiver, you are admitting to the Agency that you were in fact overpaid but you’re asking them to forgive that balance due.

In order to successfully seek a waiver of an overpayment, you first have to prove that the overpayment was not caused by any fault of your own (as explained above). This is hard to do and rarely the case, because many people knowingly continue to get Social Security checks after they have returned to work. Telling the Agency that you didn’t know won’t be enough. You signed documentation agreeing to notify them if you return to work.

The second step of obtaining an overpayment waiver from SSA is you must demonstrate that if the Agency forces you to repay that money, you would be left in dire straits and destitute. These questions are often resolved at the ALJ level. You have to provide copies of your monthly expenses, income, etc. This is not a fun thing to do.

If you’re a former client of ours and you’re about to return to work, we ask that you notify us in advance and work in coordination with us so that SSA doesn’t overpay you. We often return overpaid SSA funds to our local Field Office and get receipts. At SSLG, our client service goes beyond successful representation.

Unless you’re a former client and you contacted us and followed our protocols, SSLG does not help individuals to resolve overpayments with SSA.

Childhood Disability

These are claims in which a minor child is disabled per SSA regulations. If approved, the child will receive monthly benefits until they reach the age of 18. At the age of 18, the Agency will do a review of the disabling condition(s) to determine if those conditions which disabled the individual as a child meet the adult definition of disability, which is different.

While SSLG represents individuals who attain the age of 18 and are being reviewed by SSA to determine whether they meet the adult rules for disability benefits, we do not provide assistance with childhood disability claims.

Retirement Questions

Once you reach the age at which you can receive full SSA Retirement benefits (Full Retirement Age), the Agency will no longer pay you Disability benefits. Individuals can also elect to start collecting reduced Social Security retirement benefits beginning at age 62. This only makes financial sense in certain situations because those benefits are permanently reduced, which can significantly reduce the lifetime amount of benefits you collect.

While SSLG assists former and current clients with Social Security Retirement (SSR) questions, we do not assist non-clients with questions about their SSR benefits. We recommend you contact your financial advisor or the SSA’s Toll-Free number (800–772–1213) for resolution of these questions and other retirement matters.

Post-Award Issues

We receive calls from individuals who have questions about their Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits and how they affect other matters. Examples include how SSD benefits coordinate with Long-Term Disability (LTD). If you are a current or former client of ours, much of that content is available on the private pages of our website and we are a continuing resource long after we secure SSD benefits.

SSLG does not provide general Q&A assistance to individuals who are not current or former clients that have questions about post-entitlement issues. We recommend you contact the SSA’s Toll-Free number (800–772–1213) for resolution of these questions and other post-award matters.