When you hire a lawyer to represent you in your Social Security disability benefits claim, you expect that you and the lawyer will be in general agreement about how to proceed. If you have hired a reputable, local attorney, you should be just fine. But what happens if you and your lawyer disagree about your claim?
Cash, Cash Money
To use a hypothetical, suppose you have been working for cash and earning more than is allowed for Social Security disability to consider you disabled. There
are no records of your cash income. You don't want your lawyer to tell the Social Security Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) hearing your case about this income. Your lawyer, meanwhile, is obligated to do so. Neither side will give in. What happens next?
No Option But To Withdraw
Your lawyer has no option but to drop your case. He cannot present false facts to a judge and keep his license to practice law. That is the easier part of the problem. How the lawyer goes about withdrawing from your case is where it gets interesting. Due to client confidentiality, your lawyer probably cannot tell the ALJ about your income. But, what if the ALJ demands to know why he wants to withdraw before she will allow it?
Walk A Fine Line
Your lawyer has to walk a fine line. He must respond to the ALJ without prejudicing your chances of getting approved. Social Security regulations
say that in these circumstances, the lawyer must tell the ALJ that he has a reason to withdraw, but he cannot say what the reason is without violating client confidences.
Now The ALJ Doubts You
Keep in mind that the lawyer's request to withdraw and not say exactly why is going to make the ALJ suspicious. By the time you get in front of her, she is thinking something is amiss in your claim. The ALJ is likely to ask you more questions than she might otherwise. She will likely be more inclined to deny your claim.
An Easy Solution
So, what is the solution? First, don't put your lawyer into an ethical quandary as in this hypothetical. Always tell the truth. If it is too late, you can try to work out with your lawyer an explanation for his withdrawal that does not make the ALJ suspicious. You could simply say you want to change lawyers because you have lost faith in your current one. Keep in mind, your lawyer cannot dispute this characterization without revealing privileged information. He is still your lawyer until the ALJ releases him. If you are lucky, the ALJ might simply grant your lawyer's request to withdraw. On the other hand, she might not and keep
Always Do The Right Thing
The bottom line is that you need to be as honest as possible. If you do that, all these problems go away.