How Do You Switch Your Disability Lawyer?
If you are contemplating switching from your disability lawyer, you should remember that you signed a legally binding agreement that included expenses that you might be held accountable for whether you win benefits or lose your disability claim.
This is why you should always read over any fee agreement prior to signing. However, this does not mean that you cannot change your disability lawyer or disability representative. It simply means that you might have to pay the out of pocket incidental expenses and perhaps even for the hours spent working on your disability claim if that is what you agreed to do in your fee agreement.
If you determine that you are going to switch disability lawyers or representatives, you should send a letter to both Social Security and your current disability lawyer stating that you no longer wish for them to represent your disability claim. Also, you should request that your current disability lawyer send a letter of withdrawal from your claim to Social Security.
At this point, your new disability lawyer or representative can send SSA their disability representation papers as well as a new fee agreement. This will effectively allow you to switch your disability lawyer. However, it will not preclude your initial disability lawyer from petitioning Social Security for part of the fee in your disability case if they refuse to sign a withdrawal letter.
Additionally, none of this prevents your initial disability lawyer from pursuing the expenses and fees you agreed to pay by signing their fee agreement. For example, if your initial disability lawyer spent money on postage, phone calls, travel, medical records or any other expense in the development of your disability claim they are entitled to receive compensation for their expenses. And, you are also liable for any expenses that you agree to pay your new disability lawyer when you signed their fee agreement.
Generally, disability claimants are able to switch their disability lawyers with very little inconvenience. Most disability lawyers sign withdrawal letters for their disability applicants once any agreed upon expenses are satisfied. However, there are some disability lawyers and disability representation firms that refuse to sign any kind of withdrawal letters so that they can petition for part of your disability fee should your claim be approved for disability benefits.
If you have a disability lawyer or representation firm that refuses to withdraw from disability claims, it may be a little bit difficult for you to switch your disability lawyer. Many disability lawyers do not wish to be involved in contested fee petition cases.
About the Author: Tim Moore is a former Social Security Disability Examiner in North Carolina, has been interviewed by the NY Times and the LA Times on the disability system, and is an Accredited Disability Representative (ADR) in North Carolina. For assistance on a disability application or Appeal in NC, click here.
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