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When it comes to a Social Security Disability claimant and a representative - attorney, who is the boss in that relationship?

Dallas, TX |

From what I have researched and learned from personal experience, there are many instances in which a claimant likes to be involved in their claim for disability. I am of the belief that it doesn't take a degree in law in order for a claimant to be able to assist their rep. A rep doesn't necessarily have all the answers, and I don't think it's wise for a rep to ignore the requests of the claimant (especially when it's been proven time and time again the rep doesn't always know best). So, if a claimant requests to have something submitted to the Appeals Council that was never submitted (because of faulty DDS employees), at what point does the claimant get the final say in what they want submitted? What happens if I get denied because the rep doesn't submit the one document that was needed?

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Attorney answers 3

Posted

As the client, you are always the boss. If you don't trust your attorney's judgment and knowledge of the rules, that is a serious matter, and you should consider changing your representation. However, you should also be aware that your attorney is likely to have much better knowledge about the applicable rules and what is going to be persuasive in your appeal. I have had many, many discussions with clients over the years about arguments that my clients wanted to make. Sometimes they persuaded me, sometimes I persuaded them. Ask your attorney why he or she does not want to submit the item in question.

Posted

Your attorney is your agent, but your attorney is also the legal expert. If you question your lawyer's actions, that is a conversation you need to have with him or her.

Posted

The Client/Claimant is always the boss in an attorney-client relationship.
The client has the final say on decisions made. The attorney is there to guide and offer advice on the proper way to handle the case.

This is intended for information purposed ONLY and NOT legal advice or counsel in any way. THIS DOES NOT CREATE AN ATTORNEY-CLIENT RELATIONSHIP.

Asker

Posted

Thanks for the response, but what are my options if the Appeals Council denies my claim based off evidence that I begged my representative to submit? My representative has held back a medical opinion statement from my Rheumatoid doctor, withheld evidence of recent and continued reports about the decline of my condition, and he would not submit any notes from my chiropractor who wrote in great detail about the x-ray results and how changes in my spine have been progressive for the past 10 years. Even though I explained to my rep about how chiropractic testimony "can" be accepted in order to give more in depth details about a condition after that condition has been established by a treating source (acceptable source), he still would not submit the chiropractor's testimony. My x-rays are ONE of two criteria I need in meeting listing 14.09C - I have Ankylosing Spondylitis, so ANY reports about my x-ray results are very critical and goes to direct proof of my condition. Maybe my representative doesn't know the fine details about some of SSA's rulings and regulations. When I find out he didn't submit what I gave him, his response is "you don't need it - your claim is strong enough." Apparently he doesn't realize the road my claim has traveled before I had to obtain him as a second lawyer (when my first lawyer withdrew himself). He was obtained after my first ALJ hearing and before my second ALJ hearing. I had to write my own request for review after my first lawyer withdrew, and the AC remanded my claim - this is when I had to find another representative. I've had absolutely THE worst luck with lawyers who dip their foot into the pool of disability law. I wish I would have known to search for a lawyer who specialize in disability because these lawyers who may work 20% with disability simply do not know the law of disability beyond the surface. My claim is currently at the AC for the second time now. During the second ALJ hearing, the judge did at least rule favorably to my disability and that I met listing 14.09C1, but because of a 3+ year ongoing incorrect onset date, the ALJ continues to disregard 8 years of medical records. These are the critical years of my progressive impairment. Even after explaining all this to my current representative, he still believes "he knows best". If he "did" know best, he would have been able to argue more during the hearing. His "only" question to the ME at the hearing was "why don't you agree he's disabled further back in years." The incorrect onset date also caused the ME to not have access to 8+ years of my medical records. Even though I told my representative all this, he didn't argue ONE bit about the ongoing onset date issue. I just hope that the AC thoroughly reviews ALL my medical evidence, because if they do, there is no way I will not win a fully favorable decision. In the little brief my rep wrote, since he didn't even bother to point the AC in the proper direction to certain exhibits, I hope the AC reads everything.