The Social Security Administration passed new regulations on when your attorney can withdraw from your Social Security Disability case. Previously, attorneys and non-attorney representatives could essentially withdraw from your case whenever they wanted to withdraw under social security’s rules. Attorneys still had to comply with State Bar rules that make it against the rules to withdraw in way that harmed their client. However, non attorney representatives are not governed by State Bar rules. Further, State Bar rules do not give a specific date when it’s not okay to withdraw from a case. The Social Security Administrative tried to solve that with its new regulation.
Under the new Social Security Rules, your representative cannot withdraw from your case once a hearing has been scheduled except under extraordinary circumstances. This means your attorney can’t look at your file for the first time after the hearing has been schedule and withdraw. It also means your attorney can’t wait to see who the judge is and withdraw. However, it’s likely that if you disappear and stop returning calls an attorney can probably get a judge to let him/her withdraw.
From talking to attorneys about the new rule there are mixed emotions. Attorneys are worried that they will have to waste time at hearings on bad cases. Sometimes clients promise that their doctor is about to fill out an important disability questionnaire and once the hearing is scheduled, you realize that questionnaire is never coming. Attorneys are going to be less willing to wait on the case to develop because no one wants to waste a day at hearing on a bad Social Security Disability case.
Alternatively, attorneys are hopeful that this will keep lazy attorneys from waiting until the hearing is scheduled to review the case for the first time. I’ve had many cases come to me after the judge postponed the hearing because the prior attorney withdrew so late that the client didn’t have time to hire a new attorney before the hearing. That kind of behavior is a giant waste of time. It means that my clients have to wait longer for hearings because the judges are having to schedule numerous hearings on the same case. Most attorneys are happy that that kind of abuse of the system might stop with this new rule.
As someone applying for disability, you just need to make sure you’re working diligently to build your case through continued treatment and getting any forms filled out that your attorney asks for. You need to return calls and stay in contact with your attorney because if your attorney loses contact with you, he/she might withdraw rather than wait until a hearing is scheduled and be forced to go to the hearing. Preparing for a social security disability hearing is a collaborative effort. You need to help your attorney win your case.