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Apr 30, 2012

Law Review Article On Non-Attorney Representation At Social Security -- And Pay Attention To What's Coming In June

     Drew Swank has written an article for the Southern Illinois University Law Journal on non-attorney representation of claimants at the Social Security Administration and unauthorized practice of law. Swank argues that Social Security should require that non-attorneys who represent Social Security claimants be competent and that the agency should establish a code of ethics applicable to both attorneys and non-attorneys who represent claimants before the agency.
     By the way, a footnote indicates that the Administrative Law Review will publish another article by Swank in June to be titled "The Social Security Administration’s Condoning of and Colluding with Attorney Misconduct."

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    Anonymous Anonymous said...

    Drew Swank used to be our Chief ALJ. That was not fun.

    8:41 AM, April 30, 2012  
    Anonymous Anonymous said...

    Judge Swank should spend less time complaining about non-attorney representatives in an esoteric article and more time learning how to apply the law. His decisions probably make up about 90% of all cases in the Eastern District of Virginia.

    9:31 AM, April 30, 2012  
    Anonymous Anonymous said...

    FYI: http://bristowbeat.com/richmondbeat/disability-claimants-see-injustice-in-judge%e2%80%99s-denials/

    Formerly active in child support cases and a US Army commission after law school. Very much against the helping of pro se individuals in courts.

    10:03 AM, April 30, 2012  
    Anonymous Anonymous said...

    Swank is next to the top in percentage of denials of ALL SSA ALJs.

    10:05 AM, April 30, 2012  
    Anonymous Anonymous said...

    The Code of Federal Regulations already outlines very clearly what the ethical obligations of ANY representative (attorney or non) are. Maybe ALJ Swank should read it.

    3:10 PM, April 30, 2012  
    Anonymous Anonymous said...

    The CODE, however, fails to hold non-attorney reps to the same ethical obligations that most state rules of professional conduct do. I wouldn't mind SSA adopting additional ethical rules for all those who practice,especially as it relates to advertising and similar areas not currently address in the the CODE.

    3:35 PM, April 30, 2012  
    Anonymous Anonymous said...

    I found nothing to disagree with in ALJ Swank's article. Nothing at all. He may be a terrible ALJ, but he's right on about this stuff.

    We have a non-attorney rep around here who goes by the title of "Judge" (an old state administrative appointment for one year), and everyone assumes him to be a lawyer. Not so. He even flunked the non-attorney fee certification exam.

    My biggest complaint is about the attorneys who form "non-attorney" businesses -- same address, even suite number -- just to work with LTD insurers and betray their clients (the claimants) to the inmsurance companies. They do things as "non-attorney's" that would get an attorney disbarred.

    4:18 PM, April 30, 2012  
    Anonymous Anonymous said...

    What would happen to the hearing process if individual ALJs were given disciplinary authority over the representatives who appeared before them? Would it lead to whippings or executions of representatives? Would there be large scale investigations, hearings, subpoenas, etc. of rep practices?

    10:09 AM, May 01, 2012  
    Anonymous Anonymous said...

    For the 2012 fiscal year, Administrative Law Judge Drew A. Swank has approved 17% percent of dispositions in Richmond Virginia. All other ALJs in Virginia approved 46% and all other ALJs in the Nation approved 49% for the 2012 fiscal year.
    So, to paraphrase:
    What about Judge Swank? Ultimately, the issue is not about Judge Swank, but rather what is best for the disabled applying for Social Security disability benefits and the taxpayers who provide those benefits. Only by registering, testing, bonding, and policing Judge Swank and all of the other outliers can we be assured that the disabled, the taxpayer, and the integrity of the system is protected. Judge Swank today should merely have to meet the same standards as the majority of his peers did last year.

    2:49 PM, May 01, 2012  
    Anonymous Anonymous said...

    RE: ALJ Swank's statistics - that 17% comes mostly from partially favorables. His fully favorable percentage for FY12 is a dismal 1.9%. Which is all you need to know about him.

    3:26 PM, May 01, 2012  
    Anonymous Anonymous said...

    Wow...not sure I should even bother reading the article now. 1.9% FF??? That's obscene.

    4:16 PM, May 01, 2012  
    Anonymous Anonymous said...

    I tried reading it, but after a few opening paragraphs setting up a strawman named "Bob the rep," I quit. Why a law review would publish such juvenile nonsense I do not know.

    9:21 AM, May 02, 2012  
    Anonymous Anonymous said...

    Regardless of his denial rate, which is immaterial to his article, the point he made is correct. I have referred 19 reps to management regarding ethical misconduct (actions that would raise the ire of my state bar and for which I am obligated to report). I know this number because every time I see something that is materially inconsistent with our Rules of Professional Conduct, I email management to make sure I do not get in trouble with my bar for not reporting it. Out of those 19 referrals in the past two years, 16 were for non-representatives. Moreover, most of them were from the nationwide entities. There should not be a set of rules for one group and no rules for the other group, especially given the fact that the other group is less qualified than the first group.

    5:17 PM, May 02, 2012  

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