Can I fire my Social Security Disability Lawyer?

Of course you can.  No one has to keep an attorney they are unhappy with.  And your lawyer does not have to keep you as a client.   But whether you will have to pay for that attorney’s services is another matter.  Social security disability attorney haves the right to ask for a Fee even if you have parted ways at the time your claim is approved.   Take a careful look at the contract that you signed. It will conform to the strict rules social security has set out in the regulations.

Whether it is wise or fair ,however, to  fire your social security disability attorney is another matter.

I probably field 2 or 3 calls a day from folks wanting to fire their attorney and hire me. I urge them to take a careful look at why they are unhappy with their lawyer. Often times people are frustrated with the delays, and have the unrealistic expectation that the attorney should be “speeding things up”. Because the social security disability approval process is so long, many feel the attorney “is not doing anything”.    I always tell people, however,  to give the attorney a chance to respond to their concerns.  Many times the attorney has done all that can be done, or they have a specific time frame in which they prepare a case.  When your case reaches that stage your case will be front-and-center.

Other times claimants are unhappy with calls not being returned.  This is a practice the attorney should remedy, but realize you and your attorney are in very different places: social security disability lawyers must handle a high volume of cases to make a decent living, whereas most disabled persons have a lot of time on their hands.

I often find that the understandable frustration folks have with the social security administration gets transferred to their attorney.  Don’t assume your attorney is part of the bureaucracy; he or she went into this practice to help people. Give them the benefit of the doubt!

If you cannot settle your differences with your disability attorney, ask them to withdraw.  They may, or may not, waive their right to a fee.  If they do not waive their fee, they will have to file what is called a Fee Petition when you win your case.  This is a request to the Administrative Law Judge that she approve the fee requested by the attorney.  If you disagree with the fee requested, you will have the opportunity to tell the ALJ why you think the fee is unfair.

Often times in this situation where an attorney has been fired and does not waive her right to a fee, their is a new attorney involved.  In this case both attorneys will have to file a Fee Petition.  Realize, however, that all attorney fees paid out on your case in total will not exceed 25% of your retroactive disability benefits.


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