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| | |-+  Attorney Fee Petition Again
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Topic: Attorney Fee Petition Again  (Read 1010 times)
rosecup
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« on: November 04, 2016, 11:34:14 AM »

So this has turned into a bizarre mess. Any suggestions on where to go for help?

In keeping short, basically after case being sent to appeals and then sent back for hearing, i signed agreement with attorney two weeks prior to hearing. Basic 2 tier agreement.

Won hearing, notified in July then get a letter from attorney to sign a FEE petition. I wasn't confident signing this as we already had an agreement it and seems he was asking more than 25%. Sent a letter to judge explaining this.

Didn't hear anything, then lump sum appeared in my account and a few weeks later a smaller amount as a refund of what was held for attorney..So obviously they paid him.

So now assuming all that is behind me. Get another letter from attorney a copy he had sent judge saying he didn't want them to approve our original agreement and he plans to file a fee petition asking for more money than he received. Clearly he wasn't happy with the amount he received and i don't know if maybe any mistakes were made in the process.

Then another letter asking me to sign a fee agreement.. I didn't get into all the dates and specifics.

I do understand attorneys can request more money but two issues i have, one we signed an agreement 2 weeks prior to the hearing knowing this was a repremand hearing and should we win he would request up to 25%.  So how do you then turn around and say that agreement wasn't any good? Second isn't there a time limit on these things? Why when we both received the letter stating the judged approved our agreement wasn't that delt with then. Near three months later he's asking the judge to throw out the approval on the agreement so he can file a fee petition.

Has anyone ever run into anything like this? Very hesitant to sign anything further when we had an original agreement, besides I don't understand any of this legally. Seems an odd thing to do to ask your client to sign a different agreement after the hearing. Clearly if my attorney feels a mistake was made he deserves to have that corrected, but i wouldn't think that would involve me. Any ideas or a place i may be able to go to ask?
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Lit Love
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« Reply #1 on: November 04, 2016, 11:42:11 AM »

Did you receive a Fully Favorable Decision?  (Did the ALJ use your Alleged Onset Date?)

You don't need to do anything.  He can ask, it doesn't mean he's entitled. 
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Bonzai
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« Reply #2 on: November 04, 2016, 01:52:31 PM »

You don't have to go anyplace else, we have seen this happen before.  Some attorneys try to obtain every cent they can from their clients.  When you sent a letter to the ALJ, it 'should' have been considered a request for Administrative Review of the attorney's fee petition.

By regulations, the Social Security Administration is supposed to only use the most recent fee agreement BEFORE the date of the decision.  An attorney may file a fee petition and ask for more, but there is no guarantee they will receive it.  A claimant also has the right to request an Administrative Review of the attorney's fee petition, and then the attorney will have to submit a detailed billing for their hours and office expenses.  Depending upon the level of the hearing, the ALJ, Deputy Chief of the Social Security Appeals Council, U.S. District Court ALJ, etc... may be the official to review the fee petition.

Attorneys can ask for their standard fees, but the Social Security Administration has their own limits on how much an attorney can charge per hour.  They will also review the case to decide if the hours being billed are reasonable.  Example:  Charging a 1/2 hour to answer an email that is asking about status of claim is unreasonable.

As this was a remand hearing, the ALJ is not the person who will conduct the Administrative Review.  It will be an official higher up the line at the Appeals Council.

Do NOT sign anything!!!  The attorney may hold you for liable (due to signing the new agreement), if they do not get their way from the Social Security Administration.  If they threaten you with any form of action for not signing, inform the Social Security Administration immediately.
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"If one of these engines fails, how far will the other one take us?"
"All the way to the scene of the crash!" - Ron White
Name: Bonzai
Location: TN
Age at Application: 47
Disability: BP 1, OSA, HTN, DM II, Arthritis Knee
Date Applied: Feb 08
First Approval/Denial Date: Denied Dec 08
Reconsideration Approval/Denial Date: Denied Mar 09
Hearing Date: second hearing June 2012
ALJ Approval/Denial Date: Approval - Aug 2012
Date Award Letter Received: Oct 2012
Date Back Pay Received: Late Sept 2012
Additional Info: remanded

« Last Edit: November 04, 2016, 01:55:16 PM by Bonzai »
rosecup
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« Reply #3 on: November 04, 2016, 02:30:16 PM »

Thank you so much for your replies. I can surely take a red pen to the breakdown I received as always a tad inflated, and some errors.

What made me more hesitant to sign is the office has sent me two different fee agreements to sign about two months apart and each has a specific amount I am to agree to and oddly those amounts were different.

As he sent a letter to the judge asking to disapprove our original agreement  so he can file the fee petition do you think I need to write to the judge also? She already has the agreement that was approved and my last letter saying I wouldn't sign the first fee petition.

Just looking for ideas and opinions, not legal advice. Thinking it is really between his office and disability at this point.

Thanks again!
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Bonzai
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« Reply #4 on: November 04, 2016, 02:38:10 PM »

All you need to do is inform the Social Security Administration that you are requesting an "Administrative Review of the attorney's fee petition".  You may do it by phone (no evidence), go into local office and ask for signed receipt (long wait), or send a priority USPS envelope (give you tracking and delivery time for minimal fees).
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"If one of these engines fails, how far will the other one take us?"
"All the way to the scene of the crash!" - Ron White
Name: Bonzai
Location: TN
Age at Application: 47
Disability: BP 1, OSA, HTN, DM II, Arthritis Knee
Date Applied: Feb 08
First Approval/Denial Date: Denied Dec 08
Reconsideration Approval/Denial Date: Denied Mar 09
Hearing Date: second hearing June 2012
ALJ Approval/Denial Date: Approval - Aug 2012
Date Award Letter Received: Oct 2012
Date Back Pay Received: Late Sept 2012
Additional Info: remanded
rosecup
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« Reply #5 on: November 04, 2016, 03:35:57 PM »

Thank you Bonzai!
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grove800
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Posts: 580


« Reply #6 on: November 05, 2016, 01:26:25 AM »

 Forum10 Bonzai with helping for this topic.
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😊
Name: Vicki
Location: IL
Age at Application: 59. Age now 62
Disability: Hypogammagobulimannenia , aggressive arthritis spine, 4 level cervical fusion, chronic pain, DDD,COPD,
Date Applied: 7/2013
First Approval/Denial Date: 11/2013
Reconsideration Approval/Denial Date: 5/2014
Date OTR requested: 6/2014
Hearing Date: January 19, 2016
Date Award Letter Received: February 3, 2016. per benefit letter on my SS website
Date Back Pay Received: February 4, 2016 direct deposit
Additional Info: fully favorable letter by mail Feb 6, 2016. Medicare started Dec 2015
rosecup
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« Reply #7 on: February 14, 2017, 03:00:55 PM »

So to update, i was sent a fee petition to sign by my attorney. I did not sign it as I had signed a fee agreement 2 weeks prior to my appeals hearing.

He sent in a request to the judge to revoke the original fee agreement we signed so he could submit a fee petition. The Judge granted that and i now have 30 days to respond. Again i've searched endlessly for more information but have come up empty.

1. Do I simply sign I do not agree and let SSA review his fees? or do i have to go through his breakdown or write why i feel the fee is too high?

For many reason had he better prepared for my first hearing I strongly feel it never would have gone to appeals and his fees should have been substantially less. Many errors were made in my case. One being a dr requested an exam that likely would have provided very strong evidence in my case, while it was noted that the test would later be performed after the hearing it is my understanding now that my attorney could have requested SSA to perform this test prior to making their final answer. Thus very likely being awarded at first hearing.

Suggestions?Huh??
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« Last Edit: February 15, 2017, 10:43:27 PM by rosecup »
newdawn
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« Reply #8 on: February 16, 2017, 10:54:20 AM »

So to update, i was sent a fee petition to sign by my attorney. I did not sign it as I had signed a fee agreement 2 weeks prior to my appeals hearing.

He sent in a request to the judge to revoke the original fee agreement we signed so he could submit a fee petition. The Judge granted that and i now have 30 days to respond. Again i've searched endlessly for more information but have come up empty.

1. Do I simply sign I do not agree and let SSA review his fees? or do i have to go through his breakdown or write why i feel the fee is too high?

For many reason had he better prepared for my first hearing I strongly feel it never would have gone to appeals and his fees should have been substantially less. Many errors were made in my case. One being a dr requested an exam that likely would have provided very strong evidence in my case, while it was noted that the test would later be performed after the hearing it is my understanding now that my attorney could have requested SSA to perform this test prior to making their final answer. Thus very likely being awarded at first hearing.

Suggestions?Huh??

You could let them know you don't agree, let SSA review his fees, and maybe submit something like you said along with it outlining why you don't feel the lawyer is entitled to the additional money. I would be very clear though and just list objective things point by point. I don't think it would hurt to submit this list of reasons why you don't feel the lawyer is entitled to additional money, but I don't really know.

Anyone else have any thoughts?
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Name: Dawn
Location: IL
Age at Application: 31
Disability: Depression, anxiety
Date Applied: 11/2013
First Approval/Denial Date: 03/2014
Reconsideration Approval/Denial Date: 11/2014
Hearing Date: 11/13/2015 (Friday the 13th!)
ALJ Approval/Denial Date: 01/15/2016 Fully Favorable (rec'd 01/21)
Date Award Letter Received: 02/17/2016 (rec'd 02/20)
Date Back Pay Received: 02/13/2016 (paper check)
Additional Info: 02/09/16 mySSA account updated with approval info. 02/22 rec'd medicare card in mail. Hired lawyer after reconsideration denial. Requested an in-person hearing.
Helper
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Posts: 1637


« Reply #9 on: February 16, 2017, 12:14:59 PM »

So to update, i was sent a fee petition to sign by my attorney. I did not sign it as I had signed a fee agreement 2 weeks prior to my appeals hearing.

He sent in a request to the judge to revoke the original fee agreement we signed so he could submit a fee petition. The Judge granted that and i now have 30 days to respond. Again i've searched endlessly for more information but have come up empty.

1. Do I simply sign I do not agree and let SSA review his fees? or do i have to go through his breakdown or write why i feel the fee is too high?

For many reason had he better prepared for my first hearing I strongly feel it never would have gone to appeals and his fees should have been substantially less. Many errors were made in my case. One being a dr requested an exam that likely would have provided very strong evidence in my case, while it was noted that the test would later be performed after the hearing it is my understanding now that my attorney could have requested SSA to perform this test prior to making their final answer. Thus very likely being awarded at first hearing.

Suggestions?Huh??

Did your doctor request a test?  Or a CE doctor recommend a test?

If it was your doctor, your attorney could have requested more time for you to have the test done & results submitted to SSA.  However, SSA is not going to order & pay for tests your doctor recommends. 

Even if a CE doctor recommends a test, SSA is not required to order the test.  They typically only order tests that are outlined in listings (such as pulmonary function tests to show whether someone has the right lung values) or plain x-rays (such as of joints).  They do not typically order invasive (such as biopsies) or expensive tests (such as MRIs).  You are still free to get any recommended tests on your own though & submit the results to SSA.

I agree with newdawn that you should submit reasons why you disagree with the lawyer's fee.
Logged
Age at Application: 26 age of onset (but I did not apply until 28)
Date Applied: August 2011
First Approval/Denial Date: November 2011
Additional Info: I was fortunate to be approved on my initial application due to extensive medical records (12+ doctors) & documentation of unsuccessful work attempts even with significant accommodations
rosecup
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« Reply #10 on: February 17, 2017, 03:41:54 PM »

Thank you Newdawn & Helper.

My personal Dr requested the test. And it couldn't be done prior to the hearing but it was brought up at the opening of the hearing that this test would be done, but it takes many months to get an appointment, and the judge still denied my case without having that evidence and my attorney didn't do anything. This exam was vital to my case. I would have happily paid out of pocket and had already planned on doing so.

I also lost a substantial amount of money in back pay.  I've learned a lot about the process NOW, even about EON dates etc. He never told me how any of this works, normally I would have done all my own research but I was incapable at the time and had no one to help me.  Even to the point I was told I could NOT see my case  file prior to hearing Now I'm finding out I had a right to see it.

Completely irrelevant now. He did a job and he deserves to get paid, just don't feel he's due a full amount he's requesting. 

I only wish I had found this site when I first applied. The service you offer is incredible! Especially to people like me who haven't the first clue about any of this. You really are a life-support to those struggling to navigate.
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