Attorney Timothy N. Tripp

Restoring hope, one client at a time. As an Iowa disability lawyer, I am driven by that one goal; it has been my personal and professional mission since I first began representing disabled Iowans in 1996. Prior to that, I worked for the Social Security Administration, as one of their attorneys, and have seen first-hand how a large government bureaucracy can frustrate and confuse even the most determined claimant.

Whether you live in a large city like Des Moines, a mid-sized city like Ames, or a smaller community like Pella, most people seeking Social Security disability benefits in Iowa have questions. I created this website to help provide you answers. Please take a few moments to review this page or visit our website for additional information as well. I hope you find the information to be helpful.

My Experience With Iowa Social Security Disability Claims

After graduating law school in 1989, I began my career as a lawyer working for the Social Security Administration in its Office of the General Counsel. I did my job well and learned volumes about the workings of Social Security Administration, however, I went to law school to help people who could not help themselves; the poor, the disadvantaged, and those at the end of their rope. I left the Social Security Administration and moved to Iowa, where I have been representing disability claimants since 1996. I was appointed to the Board of Directors of NOSSCR, the National Organization of Social Security Claimants’ Representatives, since 2010 through the present.

Restoring Hope One by One. That is my goal in representing Social Security disability claimants here in Iowa. I pride myself on providing close, personal attention to all my clients at all stages of the administrative process. I take the time necessary to gather all the facts, assemble all the medical records, and carefully analyze your case. I will help you prepare for your hearing so you that can relax and give your best testimony. I won’t give up on your case. If necessary, I will pursue your appeal all the way to federal court.

State of Admission:
New York (1990), Iowa (1996)

Courts of Admission:
S.D. N.Y.
E.D. N.Y.
S.D. Iowa
N.D. Iowa
8th Cir.,
U.S. Supreme Court

Professional Organizations: National Organization of Social Security Claimants’ Representatives (“NOSSCR”); American, Federal, NY State, Iowa State, Polk County Bar Associates; Christian Legal Society

Board Membership:

  • NOSSCR, Board of Directors | 2010 – Present
  • Pella Community School District | 2010 – Present
  • Iowa Legal Aid | 2008-2011
  • Pella Public Library, Board Member & President | (2000-2006, 2006)

2009 and 2010 IA Supreme Court – Pro Bono Service commendation US, Dep’t of HHS, Exemplary Perfromance 1992


•NOSSCR Spring 2003 (DC) Social Sec. Primer Panel

•NOSSCR Spring 2005 (DC) Ethics Co-presented

•NOSSCR Spring 2006 (Boston) Words of Wisdom Panel (Topic = Obesity; SSR 02-1p)

•NOSSCR Fall 2006 (Phoenix) Ethics Co-presented

•NOSSCR Fall 2007 (St. Louis) Fees Co-presented

•NOSSCR Fall 2008 (Los Angles) Ethics

•NOSSCR Fall 2009 (San Francisco) Ethics Co-presented

•NOSSCR Spring 2011 (Baltimore) Ethics Co-presented

•NOSSCR Spring 2012 (Philadelphia) Ethics Co-presented

•NOSSCR Spring 2013 (DC) Aux. Bene.s Co-presented

•NOSSCR Spring 2014 (Indianapolis) DAA – SSR 13-2p Co-presented

•NOSSCR Fall 2014 (Las Vegas) Ethics Co-presented

•NOSSCR Fall 2015 (Denver) Ethics Co-presented

•NOSSCR Spring 2016 (Miami) Ethics Co-presented

•NOSSCR Spring 2017 (DC) CDR and Overpayments Co-presented

•NOSSCR Fall 2017 (Phoenix) SSR 16-3p Co-presented

•NOSSCR Spring 2018 (Atlanta) Succession Planning Co-presented

•8th Cir. NOSSCR | Aug. 2005 (Des Moines) | Ethics & Rapid Fire – Obesity

•8th Cir. NOSSCR | Aug. 2006 (Omaha) | Ethics

•8th Cir. NOSSCR | Aug. 2008 (Little Rock) | Ethics Co-presented

•8th Cir. NOSSCR | Aug. 2009 (Des Moines) | Ethics

•8th Cir. NOSSCR | Aug. 2011 (Minneapolis) | Ethics Co-presented & Weighing Medical Evidence

•8th Cir. NOSSCR Aug. 2014 (St. Louis) | Ethics

•8th Cir. NOSSCR Aug. 2015 (Des Moines) | Ethics

•8th Cir. NOSSCR Aug. 2016 (Minneapolis) | All Evidence Regulations

Drake General Practice Review
2 day CLE – approx. 300-400 attendees | Sponsor: Drake Law School Since 1997, annual presentation on 8th Circuit update in Social Security Law

Polk County Bar Association, 2003, 2004, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
One day CLE | Presented on Social Security issues to local bar (approximately 100 attendees);

Notable Cases:

– Becker v. Asrue, 2009 WL 5158639 (S.D. Iowa 2009) (medical improvement)

– Vander Molen v. Astrue, 2009 WL 1904402 (S.D. Iowa 2009) (law of the case

– Torruella v. Astrue, 2008 WL 4371333 (S.D. Iowa 2008) (third party statements)

– Wood ex rel. Wood v. Barnhard, 2007 WL 98354 (S.D. Iowa 2007) (medical improvement)

– Downs v. Barnhart, 289 F. Supp. 2d 1072 (S.D. Iowa 2003) (SGA and farming)

– Roberts v. Barnhart, 283 F. Supp. 2d 1058 (S.D. Iowa 2003) (Obesity, SR 02-1p).

How Do You Know If You Should Qualify For Social Security Disability?

The Social Security regulations provide that an individual is under a disability if his physical or mental impairment or impairments are of such severity that he is not only unable to do his previous work but cannot, considering his age, education and work experience, engage in any other kind of substantial gainful work which exists in the national economy . . . . In applying this definition to your application for disability benefits, the Social Security Administration will consider the following five factors, in order:

  1. Are you presently employed?

Under the Social Security Administration regulations, if you are working at substantial gainful employment, then you are not disabled, no matter how severe your impairment is. Substantial gainful employment is work that requires a good amount of physical or mental activity and is the kind of work usually done for pay or profit, even if a profit is not realized. Thus, in general, if you are working at a job that requires more than minimal duties and you earn more than $1,000 per month at that job, then the SSA will find that you are not disabled.

  1. Do you have a severe physical or mental impairment?

You must have a medically determinable impairment that is so severe that it prevents you from working. A medically determinable impairment is a condition that is diagnosed by a doctor and/or supported by objective medical evidence. An impairment that has only a slight effect on your ability to work is not a severe impairment. In addition, a severe impairment is one that is expected to result in death or to last for a continuous period of 12 months.

  1. Do you qualify under the Listing of Impairments?

The Listing of Impairments is a set of medical criteria for disability found in the Social Security regulations. The Listing impairments are so severe that if your condition meets or equals a Listing impairment, then the Social Security Administration will determine that you are disabled by virtue of your medical impairment alone.

  1. Can you perform work you have performed in the past?

When your claim for disability benefits cannot be decided on the medical factors alone (that is, when the answer to Question 3, above, is No), the Social Security Administration will continue its evaluation of your claim by considering your ability to perform past relevant work. In making its evaluation, the Social Security Administration will compare your current ability to work, or residual functional capacity, to the mental and physical demands of your easiest job. If SSA determines that you are able to do any work that you have done in the last 15 years, then it will find you are not disabled.

  1. Can you perform any other type of work?

If the answer to Question 4 above is no, then the Social Security Administration will ask, “Can you perform any other job that exists in significant numbers, in the national economy? Here, the SSA decision maker will take into consideration your age, education, work experience and current ability to work, despite your disability.

Should You Apply?

If you have a physical or mental impairment that prevents you from working and has lasted or is expected to last for a continuous period of not less than 12 months and is documented by medically accepted evidence, then you should apply for Social Security disability benefits. To learn more about when, how and whether to apply for disability benefits, I suggest you start with visiting our FAQ page, or by reviewing my ‘9 Tips for Applying‘ guide as well.

Whether or not you are applying for social security disability, it is always a good idea to get a copy of your Social Security statement. This way you can confirm that your earnings have been properly credited to your Social Security account. To get your statement go to your SSA Account.

Conveniently Located

  • Pella Office
    810 Washington Street
    Pella, Iowa 50219
  • West Des Moines Office
    4090 Westown Parkway, Suite E.
    West Des Moines, Iowa 50266

Though the process of obtaining Social Security disability benefits often is frustrating, it seldom is hopeless. Please contact me if you would like my advice about your claim.

Contact Timothy N. Tripp

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Our Address:

810 Washington Street Pella, Iowa 50219


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