Oct 17, 2014

What I Spend A Lot Of Time Doing

     If you wonder what attorneys who represent Social Security claimants do, let me tell you about one client I recently met with. He's a young man with a congenital health problem. In addition to helping him file a request for reconsideration of his disability denial and telling him how ridiculously long it will take for him to get a hearing after he's denied at recon, I advised him on the help available to him under the Affordable Care Act (not much since NC declined additional Medicaid benefits), advised him on local free or lost cost health care (which will be an enormous help to him), advised him on prescription assistance plans to help with his very high drug costs (which again will be an enormous help to him and his parents) and advised him on filing for Medicaid. I also talked with him about applying for Disabled Adult Child (DAC) benefits once one of his parents dies or goes on Social Security, making sure to warn him that he wouldn't be able to get DAC if he's married.
     This client needed more non-Social Security advice than most but an attorney must know all this and a lot more to effectively advise Social Security disability claimants. 
     Most Social Security employees have no idea how much help Social Security claimants need from their lawyers and how much of that help is only indirectly related to Social Security benefits.
     And to lawyers who don't do this sort of counseling because they never meet with their clients until the day of the hearing, real lawyering is a fulfilling career. You ought to try it.

15 comments:

Anonymous said...

I think your form of non-SSA counseling is sadly not often practised.

Anonymous said...

Hopefully you are wearing a helmet. It is an awful long fall off that high horse of yours.

Robert Crowe said...

Ditto. It a wonder we don't get honorary social work degrees.

I doubt the previous commenter has ever done this kind of work.

Anonymous said...

I guess today is "patting yourselves on the back for doing what you are PAID to do" day.

Anonymous said...

What Charles is saying that the SSD attorney automatically becomes the de facto "expert" for most of our clients. We are often the only professional person in an SSD or (especially) SSI claimant's life who will take their call and listen to them. Issues that have nothing to do the underlying disability case will often be asked of the attorney: med insurance problems, landlord disputes, child custody, overdue bills, etc... Not asking for a medal, but representing a SSD client requires an attorney to wear many hats.

Anonymous said...

You say your client "needed more non-Social Security advice than most but an attorney must know all this and a lot more to effectively advise Social Security disability claimants." No, you don't "know all this and a lot more". You may be aware of various sources for help, but SSA employees routinely assist people with referrals for assistance to public and private agencies and organizations, and make appropriate follow-ups. They have better access working with these sources, keep more up-to-date, and they do this in a more altruistic way. After all, the people coming to SSA for help do not pay any portion of their allowances to the government employees who help them!

Anonymous said...

"After all, the people coming to SSA for help do not pay any portion of their allowances to the government employees who help them!"

WTF.


Mr hall you sound like a good attorney. I had a slightly P.O.S virginia attorney who withdrew citing MERITS as an issue. I pursued the appeals process to judicial review,myself. And eventually an allowance was made.

Anonymous said...

I hate to be picky, but I think real lawyering would include gathering the large amounts of relevant medical evidence not yet in the file; gathering opinion letters from treating sources; gathering written statements from lay witnesses; and preparing a POMS based argument that the claimant is eligible. All this so that the claimant can receive a favorable reconsideration determination and not wait two years for a hearing. There are, in fact, cases that can be won at reconsideration and even case that could be won at recondsideration but denied had they gone on to the hearing level.

Anonymous said...

If we should applaud you for doing all that while taking 25% of your clients' back pay, we ought to throw a party in the streets for a week for all the Legal Aid attorneys, paralegals, and staff who do all that and more (and don't just give a phone number or the name of the places they can go for various types of help--they guide their clients through a lot of those processes) for a fraction of what you, your associate attorneys and staff, and other private SS firm employees make.

Anon said...

October marked my anniversiary for when I regained my independence: I was awarded my first disability check. It just showed up,and thinking it an error, I went into my bank and asked the teller to tell me who the depositor was. I cried right there in the lobby I was so relieved. I'm legally blind, but had a doctor who refused to give the certificate - won't go into it here, but the DDS doc found me blind with no hesitation at all, and withing a few working days I had my check. My attorney did so much for me, even drove me to the appointment! I was down to my last dollars, literally. Couldn't afford transport even. Bdcause I didn't have insurance, I'd saved for years for the dr.s appointment just to try to get new glasses - which started the whole ball of wax. I  was legally blind/had statutory blindness likely years before, but we couldn't document it that far back. 
I felt very bad for my lawyer that for all the extra effort she had to put in over a consulting doc who refused to work with me. My case, while shorter than most and I am grateful, should have been even shorter. Plus she had to put up with my worrisome emails and calls. She was very certain it would be fast tracked, when it did not go that way, I was in panic mode. 
I sought her out because I wanted everything done right the first time, and I wasn't confident I could gather it all together in timely fashion. She was vastly underpaid IMO.  When I received a bill for $20 someodd dollars, I paid it right away. Her office was shocked and replied most ignore the request for repaying medical records, copying etc.
While I know there are lazy lawyers out there, I also know there are some who truly care about their clients. She got around 300 for about 7 months of work from herself and her office. I don't begrudge them any of it. They earned it by filing my case to the letter, promptly, gave me confidence and peace of mind when things seemed shaky with dr's response, and certainly above and beyond by being my ride for that appointment! She gave me the lift, not someone on her staff.
So I say thanks to those of you who care. You're appreciated.

Anonymous said...

@246

You've just typed several paragraphs which are more cogent than what most claimants could. You also admitted that you can respond to emails and make calls to follow up with your case. Surely there is some type of work you can do.

Anon said...

I do work, and all my income is reported as required. This is what you gathered from my post? Interesting.

Anonymous said...

I really hope that 3:01 is being sarcastic, indicating why many legitimate claims are denied by SS.

Those were kind words your wrote, 2:46. I'm glad it worked out for you. It sounds like you had a good attorney working for you. I hope you've referred her many new clients!

Anonymous said...

hey Charles, GET A LIFE

Anonymous said...

@ 2:46 PM

Very kind words! And I think it's awesome that you are working and reporting.

@ 3:01 PM

Statutory blindness. Any idea if this person is using an assistive device to do these things? No. You're problem isn't with this person, it's with the rules. Don't like the rules, work to change them. Attacking someone who's following them isn't helpful to anyone.

@ Generally, Reps spend a fair amount of time with claimants doing things that don't help our bottom line. Yeah, there are windfall fees, very little work, collect $6,000.00. But if you think that's the norm, that's just incorrect. You don't seem to mention the cases like this one with seven months of work for $300.00, or an amended AOD to four months ago. We've worked two years, ALJ offers monthly payments at the price of no back payment (and this no attorney's fee), we tell Claimant to take it 95% of the time. We could gamble for a fee, but don't, because it's not in the best interest of the claimant.

Justin