Jun 7, 2006

OIG Investigates Non-Attorney Withholding

Congress passed legislation recently requiring SSA to implement a program that allows non-attorney representatives of Social Security claimants to obtain withholding of fees in much the same manner as has been the case for attorneys since 1968. This is on a five year trial basis and began last summer. Non-attorney representatives who want to qualify must pass a test and meet other requirements. Social Security's Office of Inspector General has issued a relatively brief report on this trial program. The report contains only mild criticism of SSA and does not address some of the larger questions that have been raised about the program, such as whether the test is adequate or whether other provisions, such as the requirement of liability insurance, have been properly addressed. The issue on liability insurance is whether the insurance that many non-attorney representatives have obtained would actually reimburse for errors and omissions committed by the non-attorney representative or whether the insurance would only pay for something such as a situation in which a client suffered a physical injury in the attorney's office due to negligence, such as slipping on a wet floor.

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