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Switching Social Security Disability Attorneys in California
If you're curious as to how I came up with the idea to write this post, this is how: I found an individual's complaint about her disability attorney in a forum. What follows is a paraphrased version of what she had to say.
I have had my attorney since August and he has really done almost nothing for me. My claim is at the reconsideration stage so it has been there a long time. Basically, my disability lawyer has done nothing but file the reconsideration. I have done all the rest.
This is actually a fairly common sentiment. Is it valid? In some cases, the complaint that a claimant may have about his or her disability representative may be entirely valid. However, in this instance I have to wonder and for these reasons:
1. The bulk of a disability attorney or non-attorney's work will occur in preparation for a disability hearing.
2. Prior to the hearing level, there really isn't that much for a rep to do other than file a request for reconsideration, other than to check the status of a case.
It may be that this particular claimant had the notion that, by virtue of being represented, her case would either move faster in the system, or that certain steps in the disability process could be eliminated. However, that is never the case.
Representation can certainly improve the chances of winning disability benefits in California at a hearing, and by a substantial margin versus non-represented claimants. But at the lower levels (application and reconsideration), cases proceed according to a "rhythmn" that reps have no control over.
Does this mean that you shouldn't consider representation prior to the hearing level? Not at all. For many claimants, having representation can make the process easier (not having to file the first appeal and not having to do status checks). And for many, turning a case over to a representative can be emotionally freeing. Also, there is the fact that claimants with psychological or psychiatric issues may really need someone to turn their cases over to (particularly if they have memory or comprehension problems).
Back to the title of this post, however. Can you switch disability attorneys whenever you choose? Yes, you may. And social security will recognize your newly designated representative as soon as a new appointment of representative form has been recieved (form SSA-1696). However, bear in mind that if your "former representative" has done a significant amount of work on your case at the time you discharge him or her, they may petition for a portion of the eventual fee which, if you think about it, may only be fair.
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Disability claims in California with certain conditions
Applying For Disability On the Basis of Back Pain in California
Filing for Disability with Fibromyalgia in California
Social Security Disability For Mental Illness in California
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California Disability Lawyers and Representation
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Disability lawyers in California
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Hiring a Disability Lawyer in California
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Should you get a disability lawyer before you get denied in California?
Lawyer for a disability hearing in California
Why was I denied disability in California?
For the sake of clarity, SSDRC.com is not the Social Security Administration, nor is it associated or affiliated with SSA. This site is a personal, private website that is published, edited, and maintained by former caseworker and former disability claims examiner, Tim Moore, who was interviewed by the New York Times on the topic of Social Security Disability and SSI benefits in an article entitled "The Disability Mess" and also by the Los Angeles Times on the subject of political attempts to weaken the Social Security Disability system.
The goal of the site is to provide information about how Social Security Disability and SSI work, the idea being that qualified information may help claimants pursue their claims and appeals, potentially avoiding time-consuming mistakes. If you find the information on this site helpful and believe it would be helpful to others, feel free to share links to its homepage or other pages on website resource pages, blogs, or social media. Copying of this material, however, is prohibited.
To learn more about the author, please visit the SSDRC.com homepage and view the "about this site" link near the bottom of the page.