Disability lawyer- Lost contact with them
Can't find my disability lawyer, what do I do?
Some disability applicants may have to fight months or years for their Social Security Disability Insurance benefits (SSDI). Given this extensive length of time it is not unusual for some disability applicants to lose contact with their disability lawyer. Recently on our disability forum we had a claimant ask, What do I do if I hired a disability lawyer but I have lost contact with them?
Hiring a Disability Lawyer
If you have hired a disability lawyer to help you with your SSDI case you have signed a fee agreement with them. This agreement is a written contract that outlines the relationship with your lawyer. The fee agreement specifies the fee the disability advocate or attorney expects to charge and collect, and the claimant expects to pay, for services the representative provides.
Generally, the fee agreement is submitted to the Social Security Administration (SSA) prior to the SSA making a favorable decision on behalf of the SSDI claimant. What happens if the fee agreement is not submitted? The SSA will assume that the disability lawyer will submit a fee petition prior to the decision or has decided to waive the fee.
The SSA will approve the fee agreement at the time of the favorable decision if the statutory conditions for approval are met and no exceptions to the fee agreement process apply.
You will also have to complete and submit a written statement to the SSA appointing the representative to represent you in your dealings with Social Security. Form SSA-1696 (Appointment of Representative) is used for this purpose (Appointment of Representative, Form SSA-1696). This form in on file with the SSA.
Finding your Disability lawyer or advocate
The good news is if you have signed a fee agreement and submitted Form SSA-1696 to the Social Security Administration then the SSA has record of who is working your SSDI case. The best way to find your lawyer may be to contact the SSA at 1-800-772-1213 and ask them the name and phone number of your lawyer. Ideally, however, you would keep track of this information yourself.
What do you need to do to help your SSDI case?
One of the best things you can do as a disability claimant is stay informed about your case. Should you call your lawyer ever day? No, but every couple of weeks it may be a good idea to touch base with them and find out the status of your SSDI case. Contact times may be extended, for example, if you are waiting for a hearing and the hearing is likely to be months in the future. Consider, however, winning benefits may not be possible without both you and your lawyer doing all you can to ensure the case is moving smoothly through the SSA system.
When should I contact the SSA? If you move you should definitely contact not only the Social Security Administration and your disability lawyer and give them your new address and contact information. If the SSA or your advocate repeatedly tries to contact you and they are unable, it is likely you could miss a court hearing or the SSA will terminate your case and you would have to start your case all over again.