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.
A recent report by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) shows statistical evidence in the fact that claimants in Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) claims have a three times higher rate of success at hearings than those claimants who do not have representatives. The report sites as one of the reasons for higher success rate is that the representative can help the claimant ensure that medical evidence and other evidence is fully developed and help the claimant present testimony at the hearing. The GAO report also sites representatives' selectivity regarding claims as a possible factor as well.
I recently blogged about new rules promulgated by the Social Security Administration (SSA) regarding Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) claims. There has been a lot of confusion regarding whether an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) can decline to consider evidence that was not necessarily provided prior to the five business day rule, but in which the claimant or claimant's attorney provided information informing the ALJ about the existence of the written evidence prior to five business days of the scheduled hearing.
Social Security Disability and SSI claimants should always be wary of incompetent representation. As discussed before, my belief is that part of ensuring competent representation is to hire a licensed attorney experienced in practicing before the Social Security Administration. A recent law review journal written by Drew Swank Non-Attorney Social Security Disability Representative and the Unauthorized Practice of Law discusses some of the pitfalls and liabilities of claimant representation by non-attorneys. Drew Swank is an ALJ with the Social Security Administration and although is allowance rate appears to be on the low side, his position does give him an excellent vantage point to witness and thus comment on the subject of non-attorney representation.
The Tennessee General Assembly recently passed "Loser Pays" legislation that will affect civil cases, including personal injury cases. The legislation, which takes affects claims filed on or after July 1, 2012, requires a party that is represented by an attorney to pay all reasonable and necessary litigation costs actually incurred up to $10,000.00 if the civil case is dismissed for failure to state a claim. If the case is filed pro se, then the trial court has the discretion whether to award the costs to the winning side.