Questions about how to use the forum?

Visit our new Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) section.

Welcome, Guest. Please login or register.
Did you miss your activation email?

September 27, 2022, 11:36:22 pm

Login with username, password and session length

Recent

Members
Stats
  • Total Posts: 246137
  • Total Topics: 24580
  • Online Today: 282
  • Online Ever: 1127
  • (January 16, 2020, 04:17:02 pm)
Users Online
Users: 1
Guests: 106
Total: 107

You are no longer alone ...

Author Topic: Issue with Attorney at AC level  (Read 5854 times)

sweetcandisue

  • ~ Copper ~
  • *
  • Posts: 22
  • People helped 1
Issue with Attorney at AC level
« on: December 31, 2015, 08:17:55 pm »
hi. my name is Candi. I just hate to complain, but I think I have chosen the wrong lawyer group. and I think my case will not be approved. They didn't look into alot of my case and I have major depression and social anxiety so I don't like to make waves. Id rather just cry and think everything is going wrong. I hired binder and binder.... My case is in the final appeals . before it would go to federal court. I don't even know if they would fight my case there. Let me know. can I get another lawyer if its stuck in appeals or do I have to wait for a decision?? Thanks from Candi. :Main08:
I wish I could be happy again. It will come. Someday...

Misssy2

  • ~ Gold ~
  • *
  • Posts: 121
  • People helped 3
  • Never give up!
Issue with Attorney at AC level
« Reply #1 on: December 31, 2015, 08:21:48 pm »
I'm not especially pleased with my lawyers either.
AND I was told if I "fire" my lawyer...it doesn't matter...they still will have access to money if you get approved and it seems they are far into your process. :(.

And I also read somewhere...that many lawyers won't take my case...if I have left another lawyer...Of course that would depend on what lawyer firm you checked with.

Have you checked with any others?  Most give free consultation.
Everything happens for a reason!
One Day at a time!
Live and Let Live!

Misssy2

  • ~ Gold ~
  • *
  • Posts: 121
  • People helped 3
  • Never give up!
Issue with Attorney at AC level
« Reply #2 on: December 31, 2015, 08:24:21 pm »
Duh..this is an advocate thread. (sorry, I only read your post and felt your pain).

Yea...why can't you get an advocate?  You would have to pay them to thou I'm sure..but it may be worth it.
Everything happens for a reason!
One Day at a time!
Live and Let Live!

sweetcandisue

  • ~ Copper ~
  • *
  • Posts: 22
  • People helped 1
Issue with Attorney at AC level
« Reply #3 on: December 31, 2015, 08:34:05 pm »
Thanks guys. Thats true. I suppose I am to far into this appeals process. But I am just so irritated.... But I will keep who I have, I only have like 3 more months to wait. Well see... From Candi. :Main13:
I wish I could be happy again. It will come. Someday...

Lit Love

  • Global Moderator
  • ~ Platinum ~
  • ****
  • Posts: 4391
  • People helped 371
Re: Issue with Attorney at AC level
« Reply #4 on: December 31, 2015, 08:44:36 pm »
I created a new thread since this has nothing to do with the old one.  (Non attorney reps can't represent you at the AC level or at federal court.)

I'm not sure if Binder and Binder will be able to represent you in federal court or not.  It would likely be a different attorney than you've already dealt with.  They may choose to drop you anyway.  You can certainly research potential new attorneys now.  You may also consider submitting a new application if your Dast Last Insured has not past, or if you qualify for SSI.

Misssy2

  • ~ Gold ~
  • *
  • Posts: 121
  • People helped 3
  • Never give up!
Re: Issue with Attorney at AC level
« Reply #5 on: January 01, 2016, 08:46:13 am »
LitLove...is it normal for her to have to wait for the Judges decision?  She was represented by a lawyer...and 99% of the cases I have read on here that go in front of a judge..they usually know where they stand at the end...I would be flipping out if I went THAT far and still had to wait this long.
Everything happens for a reason!
One Day at a time!
Live and Let Live!

Helper

  • Global Moderator
  • ~ Platinum ~
  • ****
  • Posts: 4535
  • People helped 585
Re: Issue with Attorney at AC level
« Reply #6 on: January 01, 2016, 08:58:07 am »
LitLove...is it normal for her to have to wait for the Judges decision?  She was represented by a lawyer...and 99% of the cases I have read on here that go in front of a judge..they usually know where they stand at the end...I would be flipping out if I went THAT far and still had to wait this long.


It is very common to not receive a bench decision & need to wait for a letter.
Moderator

Lit Love

  • Global Moderator
  • ~ Platinum ~
  • ****
  • Posts: 4391
  • People helped 371
Re: Issue with Attorney at AC level
« Reply #7 on: January 01, 2016, 12:22:42 pm »
LitLove...is it normal for her to have to wait for the Judges decision?  She was represented by a lawyer...and 99% of the cases I have read on here that go in front of a judge..they usually know where they stand at the end...I would be flipping out if I went THAT far and still had to wait this long.


It's actually a fairly small percentage that receives bench decisions.  99% is WAY off.  My guess would be more like 10-20%.  Frequently poster's will say their attorney believes they'll be approved and that all went well, that is not the same thing as a bench decision.  (Most ALJ's decide the claimant's RFC rating after the hearing, which then determines which hypotheticals by VE will be used, thus determining approval or denial.)

And, from what the OP wrote, she was denied at the ALJ hearing level and she's waiting to hear back from the AC.

newdawn

  • Global Moderator
  • ~ Platinum ~
  • ****
  • Posts: 3857
  • People helped 516
Re: Issue with Attorney at AC level
« Reply #8 on: January 01, 2016, 01:22:35 pm »
It is very common to not receive a bench decision & need to wait for a letter.

I keep having to remind myself of this because it does seem that a lot of people who post online here or on other forums report getting bench decisions or the judge letting them know they won their case at the hearing. I know it's not common, but it feels anecdotally common.
Location: IL
Age at Application: 31
Disability: Depression, anxiety
Applied: 11/2013
First Denial: 03/2014
Reconsideration Denial: 11/2014
Hearing: 11/13/15 (Friday the 13th!)
ALJ Approval: 01/15/16 Fully Favorable
Back Pay: 02/13/16
Award Letter: 02/17/16
1st monthly benefit: 03/21/16

vrad58

  • ~ Gold ~
  • *
  • Posts: 104
  • People helped 7
Re: Issue with Attorney at AC level
« Reply #9 on: January 02, 2018, 10:39:31 pm »
I hired Disability Rep and was the worst mistake I have made in this whole process. She lied in front of the ALJ claiming she went over my file with me (a file I had never seen, or had a chance to go over.)
I looked up the § 416.1540. Rules of conduct and standards of responsibility for representatives.

(a) Purpose and scope. (1) All attorneys or other persons acting on behalf of a party seeking a statutory right or benefit must, in their dealings with us, faithfully execute their duties as agents and fiduciaries of a party. A representative must provide competent assistance to the claimant and recognize our authority to lawfully administer the process. The following provisions set forth certain affirmative duties and prohibited actions that will govern the relationship between the representative and us, including matters involving our administrative procedures and fee collections.

(3) Conduct his or her dealings in a manner that furthers the efficient, fair and orderly conduct of the administrative decisionmaking process, including duties to:

(i) Provide competent representation to a claimant. Competent representation requires the knowledge, skill, thoroughness and preparation reasonably necessary for the representation. This includes knowing the significant issue(s) in a claim and having a working knowledge of the applicable provisions of the Social Security Act, as amended, the regulations and the Rulings; and

(ii) Act with reasonable diligence and promptness in representing a claimant. This includes providing prompt and responsive answers to our requests for information pertinent to processing of the claim;

After a denial at ALJ I fired her and asked for a letter stating she will not take any fees. She agreed to this because I showed her the statute and gave her a list of the things she screwed up.

I hired a Disability Attorney. I am so much more happy with their communication, and letters to court are so much more professionally written.A lot of people do not know that any attorney and a Rep will receive the same amt of back pay up to $6000. Attorney knows how to write legal briefs and bring up arguments in court, they have a degree. Reps take classes and have a certificate.

I realize this will not help you but hopefully it will help future inquiries.
Age 59, MN
Chronic migraines
Spine benign tumo
Alleged onset: 3/11/14
Denied: 11/1/12, 11/24/14 & ALJ 7/12/17
Appeals Council sent: 10/5/17
25 day letter: 12/18/2017
Remand letter 3/16/2018
Approved (bench) 8/31/2018
SSI starts 10/3/18
SSDI Starts 12/03/2019
"Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition"

sosadwaiting

  • ~ Platinum ~
  • *
  • Posts: 713
  • People helped 67
Re: Issue with Attorney at AC level
« Reply #10 on: January 03, 2018, 12:55:29 pm »
Sorry for the long post in advance.. but it's an important decision..the lawyer you chose.

My lawyer showed up 1-1/2 hours late for my hearing. 
I was extremely lucky to have a judge that was willing to move case times around.  Actually I think it had more to do with the judges assistant. But either way they took the case scheduled after me first.

I had never even met my lawyer prior to my hearing date.
He was supposed to meet me at the courthouse 1- hour before my hearing to "go over and familiarize himself" with my case.  However the minute he walked into the building we were taken right into the court room.  The judge was furious. 

And she made that clear from the start. She asked, demanded really, to know exactly why the lawyer was late.
He said 'I apologize your Honor I got lost".  He was about
25- years old and clearly had not reviewed my case file.
The judge asked him many questions that he could not answer.  I don't believe looking back on it that that is typical
behavior from a Judge.  She was making a point.

I almost went into cardiac arrest my blood pressure was so high. Between waiting a year for a hearing, sitting there waiting for that 1-1/2 for him to show up, then the tone in the Judges voice it was all too much.  It wasn't until I received a copy of the hearing and watched it did I remember anything about the hearing.  Nothing, to this day do I remember a thing about it.  Only walking into the "courtroom" and leaving in a daze. A side note here, people should plan on getting a ride home from the hearing I know I shouldn't have driven after mine.

After mentally recovering a few days later it really sunk in that this law firm (a big one/national) had literally done nothing. Let me clarify.. the attorney they sent to the hearing had done nothing.  Not even look at my file.

I only explained all of this because I tried to do what you are asking.  Fire the lawyer or at the very least not automatically hand over the $6,000.00 from my back pay but lower the amount they should be paid.
At the time I was awarded lawyers were automatically
paid $6,000.00. They had to give the court their bill indicating hours spent on the case. This is where everyone
must pay very strict attention to the contract you sign with any law firm.  Not only were they paid the $6,000.00,
the had the b**** to bill me an extra $2,500,00 claiming
they had spent so many hours on the case.

I took them to court over the $2,500.00 (small claims) and won. They did not show up for the hearing.

You will be responsible to pay them, it's not even up to you. If you are represented and the law firm submitted a copy of the contract you signed the government will automatically deduct the maximum amount from your back pay and pay them.  Because the lawyers always bill for the maximum.

The worst part though is most contracts include the caveat that they can bill you over the amount. Believe me, most of them do.  When I took them to small claims court I won not by default but because I kept meticulous records of how many minutes I spent on the phone with them, how many emails/correspondence there were for billable hours.
I submitted all of the paperwork (medical records etc) myself to them and copied them to the court just to be safe.
But you need to be careful with that, too much irrelevant/repetitive/unorganized paperwork submitted directly to the court can work against you. 

There really needs to be more laws written that protect people from these lawyers.  When people are applying for disability they are emotional and it's an overwhelming process.

Also, if you try to fire your lawyer it's possible that your hearing will be delayed, you go back to last place in line which could be an entire year or more..
The letter I received from the Judge in response to
my request for review of the hours they billed was
terse.  She point blank stated it was my own fault for hiring who I did and I should have paid attention to what I was signing, meaning the contract. Then she asked if I wanted to start all over again and file a new claim from scratch.
Of course that's not going to happen she sure put me in my place!

Judges (in my case anyway) want nothing to do with lawyer/client issues.

It's important to read the contract you sign.  If I had to do it all over again I would have looked for a small, "local" lawyer with an office I could go to. Not some online big national firm.


Sorry for the long post... I wish you the best outcome.

vrad58

  • ~ Gold ~
  • *
  • Posts: 104
  • People helped 7
Re: Issue with Attorney at AC level
« Reply #11 on: January 03, 2018, 10:40:53 pm »
WOW! Looks like you had a brutal time with your "person" too.  I was like you too. I kept track of all calls and length of time, calls I made and not returned. It is easy to do with a cell phone because you can print screen the records and keep them by emailing yourself and putting them in their own file in your email. So when I went to the head of my "Disability Specialist" and talked to the owner I was also prepared with not only my records but the statutes and showed them the "error of their ways". I told them I was going to turn them into SSA.
I had a copy of this and the statutes with me.

All attorney and non-attorney representatives of claimants who practice before the Social Security Administration (SSA) must comply with the Rules of Conduct and Standards of Responsibility for Representatives (Rules of Conduct) found at 20 C.F.R. § 404.1740 and 416.1540. The Rules of Conduct specify both affirmative obligations and prohibited conduct.

Quote
Standards of Conduct for Representatives
If a representative violates the Rules of Conduct, is not qualified to be either an attorney or non-attorney representative under 20 C.F.R. § 404.1705 and 416.1505, or has been convicted of a violation under section 206 of the Social Security Act, SSA may file charges and initiate proceedings to suspend or disqualify that representative from acting as a representative before SSA.

Any person who believes that an attorney or non-attorney representative has acted in a manner that violates the Rules of Conduct should promptly report that representative to an SSA field or hearing office. Allegations of representational misconduct may also be reported in writing to:

Social Security Administration
Office of the General Counsel,
Office of General Law
6401 Security Boulevard,
Room 617 Altmeyer Building
Baltimore, MD 21235

Section 205 of the Social Security Protection Act of 2004

If you go online you will find a bunch of attorneys telling you how bad it is to fire them. I didn't care.. I was in a vulnerable place and trusted them. THEY let ME down and were going to charge me for the privilege of having the screw me over ...Having my father's German temperament I was not going to stop until it was set right.  I got my letter from them claiming that they will not take any of my backpay... and it was much easier to find a new attorney.  I researched website forums and social media and found the most recommended attorney I could find.  They told me they never take cases at AC level, but sent me to someone they truly trusted. I am very happy with my attorney now!!!

I am sorry you had to go through this crap too...it can be so frustrating and having bad representation only adds salt to the wounds.
Age 59, MN
Chronic migraines
Spine benign tumo
Alleged onset: 3/11/14
Denied: 11/1/12, 11/24/14 & ALJ 7/12/17
Appeals Council sent: 10/5/17
25 day letter: 12/18/2017
Remand letter 3/16/2018
Approved (bench) 8/31/2018
SSI starts 10/3/18
SSDI Starts 12/03/2019
"Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition"

Sickandtired

  • ~ Titanium ~
  • *
  • Posts: 186
  • People helped 2
Re: Issue with Attorney at AC level
« Reply #12 on: January 06, 2018, 07:35:24 am »
Just curious, my attorney told me she has 8 cases a month she works on. Is that a lot? I have told her need to see her way before my date with her a week before hearing.  Is that asking too much?

SFVLance

  • SSDFacts Supporter
  • ~ Platinum ~
  • *
  • Posts: 1382
  • People helped 203
Re: Issue with Attorney at AC level
« Reply #13 on: January 06, 2018, 10:43:53 am »
Is that asking too much?

That completely depends on how each attorney handles their workload.

As an example, it would not have been a problem for my attorney, nor would it have been an issue to set up a phone appointment at any time. However, there are many claimants who have said they did not meet with attorney until morning of the hearing.

So if you've sent an email asking her to meet, that's fine. If for some reason she can't, at the very least, maybe she will be able to have a phone appointment.
Los Angeles, CA

Short Version: Filed June 2012 at age 46; major depression + general anxiety. Denied all the way. Fed district court remanded, 2nd hearing delayed twice (11 months total delay). Bench approval at remand hearing in March 2017. Took over six months to receive closed-period award pymt.

FormerSSAALJ

  • ~ Bronze ~
  • *
  • Posts: 40
  • People helped 26
  • Retired SSA Administrative Law Judge
Re: Issue with Attorney at AC level
« Reply #14 on: July 30, 2020, 11:03:08 am »
Try to work with your current attorney.

Edited to remove personal contact info and other statements. Soliciting clients not allowed on SSDFacts.
« Last Edit: July 30, 2020, 11:38:58 am by newdawn »