Here is the scenario: I presented myself to a disability lawyer who reluctantly accepts my claim. He is a one man operation. By the time I obtained his services, I had current copies of ALL my medical records plus any related reports, labs, x-rays, etc. There was nothing left for him to do other than review the reasons I was originally denied and apply the law where appropriate. My denials were based off of clerical errors resulting in an incorrect onset date that was attached to my application and was never corrected (even almost 4 years later I am STILL dealing with an incorrect AOD). Several emails of mine were ignored as I submitted RFC's and new medical records. My multiple requests to view my CD of evidence were also ignored. I later found out he received this CD 8 months prior.
I also found out that he didn’t even submit a fully favorable RFC from my Rheumatologist (key evidence). When the hearing date was set, I again requested to view my CD of evidence; ignored. My promised “pre-hearing meeting” resulted in a 5 minute phone call 2 days before the hearing, but not by the lawyer I hired for representation - it was a newly hired lawyer of his that he passed my claim off onto. The original Fee Agreement and Appointment of Representative contract was somehow photoshopped to include the name of this new lawyer while using my original signature from a year prior. I was not given a choice for this last minute switch of representation. After I was denied, he withdrew his representation. My concern is the legality of him trying to collect any fees in the event I am approved now that I have a new rep. It’s been over 2 years since contact with the original rep. Are these situations favorably appealed?
Social Security Lawyers
The appointed representative should not be allowed to collect a fee if he was not successful in securing you benefits. I would recommend requesting a letter in wiring from him withdrawing from your claim and waiving all fees and costs related to your representation. If he refuses, send a letter to the current judge advising that you have requested the attorney to withdraw and that you do not feel he has earned his contingency fee for securing benefits.
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Elder Law Attorney
Attorney Bruni has given you good advice. I'll just add that IF the prior rep were approved by SSA for any fee then you will get a notice and you will have the opportunity to object to the payment of a fee. You'll want to carefully look at all documents you might receive from SSA.
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Workers' Compensation Lawyer
If you ultimately prevail, this lawyer may nevertheless file a fee petition in your case. The fee agreement will no longer be valid. You should ask him to withdraw and "waive" any fee. If he refuses, then file a Bar Complaint with the State Bar in your state. If as you assert he did nothing, he should do the ethical thing. He should withdraw and waive any fee. Of course, if you prevail, you can also object to his fee petition.
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This response is meant to be information only and should not be considered to be legal advice. This information is not meant and should not be construed to be the formation of an attorney client relationship. I practice Virginia Workers compensation law and Social Security Disability law.
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