One of my biggest pet peeves in practicing Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) claims is attorneys and representatives that do not personally know or meet with their clients before the hearing. This is probably second only to non-attorney representatives handling Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and SSI cases. See “Dangers of Non-Attorney Reps in Social Security Disability.” Very often the claimant who meets his representative thirty minutes before his hearing is dealing with a non-attorney representative from some out-of-town advocacy group, but I also see it occurring with local and regional attorneys and that is even worse because attorneys should be held and should hold themselves to a higher standard based on the Tennessee Rules of Professional Conduct.
I believe the standard of care in representing SSDI and SSI claimants requires that you meet with the claimant at some point in time prior to the hearing. Meeting with the claimant prior to his or her hearing allows for the attorney to discuss the hearing, including the judge, questions to be asked, witnesses to testify, hearing procedures, and the ALJ’s decision-making process. This meeting should calm and inform the client. This is also an opportunity for the attorney to review the file for any red flags, including missing evidence (medical or lay testimony), work during the period of disability, drug, alcohol, or criminal issues. Often issues discovered in the pre-hearing meeting can be remedied quickly and can often bolster a claim, but without the pre-hearing meeting a case can easily be lost because the issues are not discovered and remedied in time.
If you need more information about a Social Security Disability/SSI, personal injury, EEOICPA, long or short-term disability, VA disability, Railroad Retirement Board disability, or a workers compensation matter, please contact the Law Offices of Tony Farmer and John Dreiser for a free case evaluation. We can be reached at (865) 584-1211 or (800) 806-4611 or through our website.