Disability Assistance, LLC
Past-President of the National Association of Disability Representatives
Graduate of the University of California
I graduated from the University of California at Irvine, with a degree in Social Ecology. Following graduation, I was hired by the Social Security Administration (SSA) as an Adjudicator with the Disability Determination Service (DDS) in Columbus, Ohio, and was later promoted into a training position. While at the DDS, I served on a committee to explore moving to an electronic claim folder and filing applications electronically,initiatives that former Social Security Commissioner Joanne Barnhardt indicated were vital to improve the disability process, and has since implemented.
I Switched From Bureaucracy To Advocacy In 1994
In 1994, family circumstances brought me to Atlanta, Georgia, where I switched from bureaucracy to advocacy, working for attorneys assisting claimants in appealing unfavorable decisions. In that capacity, I developed and prepared thousands of cases for Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) hearings, wrote hundreds of successful on-the-record briefs, and trained and supervised staff and associate attorneys in the complexities of the Social Security disability program. I later worked at UNUMProvident and The Hartford in Long-Term Disability claims examination and on numerous special projects, but much preferred advocacy. I was then courted to open the Southeastern satellite office of a prominent Social Security Disability advocacy firm, hiring, training and mentoring associates and staff while establishing procedures and successfully representing hundreds of claimants in obtaining their benefits. I have operated my own private practice in Georgia for several years, representing thousands of claimants throughout the South. I have proudly served as the former Secretary, Director at Large, Vice President and President of the National Association of Disability Representatives, and on numerous committees, including Membership, Certification, By-Laws (as Chair), Certification Examination (as Chair), and Conference Planning. In addition to creating and hosting the yearly study session series for SSA's fee withholding examination, I have presented training sessions at conferences and for various local social service organizations, with topics including Winning Early, Written Persuasion, Breast Cancer (training for attorneys doing pro bono work through Atlanta Legal Aid), Children's Disability Claims, Business Practices, and Mock Hearings.
SSA's Fee Withholding for Non-Attorney Representatives
I am very proud to have met the stringent criteria to participate in SSA's Fee Withholding for Non-Attorney Representatives, which included passing a written examination created by the Social Security Administration to test my knowledge of all aspects of the disability and SSI programs. I participate in annual continuing education, enabling me to stay abreast of the constant changes in the law, regulations and rulings in order to provide the best possible representation to people with impairments. Because of my skills and experience, I was chosen to create and host a study session series on behalf of NADR for fee-withholding applicants throughout the country, in order to help them prepare for the written examination. Because the series was so successful, I now offer that study session series privately, independent of NADR.