The Social Security Administration (“SSA”) recently adopted final rules revising the Rules of Conduct and Standards of Responsibility for Appointed Representatives for representation of claimants in Social Security Disability Insurance (“SSDI”) and Supplemental Security Income (“SSI”) claims. The SSA announced the rule revisions are to update and clarify procedures for bringing charges against a representative for violating the rules and standards and that they are necessary to better protect the integrity of the administrative process.
One interesting inclusion in the rules is a requirement the representative provide potential dates for hearings and that the SSA will inform the representative how many potential dates and times are required to coordinate the hearing schedule. This will lead to difficult situations for many attorneys who represent claimants before different hearing offices or practice other types of law. One, the hearing offices do not communicate regarding hearing dates. Overall, if dates are left open on attorneys’ calendars, it will lead to inefficient scheduling and conflicts.
Additionally, the rules added that a representative can only withdraw at a “time and in a manner that does not disrupt the processing or adjudication of a claim and that provides the claimant adequate time to find new representation, if desired.” A representative should not withdraw after a hearing has been set, unless the representative can show that a withdrawal is necessary due to extraordinary circumstances as the SSA determines on a case-by-case basis. This rule change is problematic for several reasons and can actually potentially lead to violations of the attorney-client privilege. For instance, if an attorney does not believe that the claimant has a good case or for some reason needs to withdraw because of certain evidence in the attorney’s possession that would have to be turned over, this potential rule change might tie the attorney’s hands in withdrawing from the case. In the end, the harm will most likely fall on the client if having to necessarily proceed with the case or by requiring the attorney to reveal to the Court the reasons for the withdrawal may potentially disadvantage the claimant’s possibility of success in the case.
If you need more information about a Social Security Disability/SSI matter, personal injury matter (car wreck, boating accident, slip and fall, etc.), EEOICPA claim, long or short-term 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, through Facebook, or through our website.