Social Security Disability and SSI claimants should always be wary of incompetent representation. As discussed before, my belief is that part of ensuring competent representation is to hire a licensed attorney experienced in practicing before the Social Security Administration. A recent law review journal written by Drew Swank Non-Attorney Social Security Disability Representative and the Unauthorized Practice of Law discusses some of the pitfalls and liabilities of claimant representation by non-attorneys. Drew Swank is an ALJ with the Social Security Administration and although is allowance rate appears to be on the low side, his position does give him an excellent vantage point to witness and thus comment on the subject of non-attorney representation.
The main point of Judge Swank’s article is that non-attorney representation, as currently allowed by the SSA, does not guarantee competency and this lack of competency can harm the claimant and government alike. Some interesting key points from the article are:
- Promoting competence and ethical behavior are the twin goals of the unauthorized practice of law doctrine (and should be that of the SSA).
- If an attorney acts improperly, he or she can be sanctioned by a state bar, sued for malpractice, and punished by a court.
- Non-attorney representatives are eight times more likely to be suspended or disqualified by the Social Security Administration than attorneys.
- Non-attorney representatives only have to meet competency standards if they want to be paid faster by the Social Security Administration.
- Incompetent representation harms the claims and wastes government resources.
I have often said that if someone is going to a court hearing, why go with a non-attorney when a lawyer costs the same?
If you need more information about a Social Security Disability/SSI matter, personal injury matter (car wreck, boating accident, slip and fall, etc.), EEOICPA claim, long or short-term disability, VA disability, or a workers compensation matter, please contact the Law Offices of Tony Farmer and John Dreiser for a free case evaluation. We can be reached at (865) 584-1211 or (800) 806-4611, through Facebook, or through our website.