2. I hadn't had SGA since the original onset date of 5/01. That's why I was seeking to appeal it. I never changed my AOD prior to the hearing. I spoke to my attorney today. She stated that I amended it during the hearing and there is no documentation to support it. She recommended that I request a CD of the hearing that there was nothing more that she could do to help me unless the error was clerical. Yes, you may be able to get the transcript - but given it is 3 years old, eesh, I hope it still exists - it is a tough one because since it is out of time for appealability - it would appear that there may be no valid reason to keep it - this should have been happening righ after you got the award. Not only would you have to show that the change of onset to 11/06 was a clerical error and did not occur in reality - by even then, an onset date can not precide the rule of the case of your 2005 denial - meaning, you had a denial in 2005 that you never appealed (and failure to appeal means acceptance of result), so even if you could get the 11/06 onset re-opened, you'd still only get it back to the day after prior application denial - potentially.)
3&4. I asked the SSA rep for the recording of the hearing, and he told me that he was researching it and would call me back once he had reviewed it. Excellent!!! Did you follow up in writing, cert. r.r.r. Remember, talk is cheap, so I would do so so that he won't feel he can just say it to get you off the phone.
I haven't received a response yet, so I will take your advice and send him a certified letter restating what we discussed. Ah, yes!
5. It was not my intention to trick or cheat anyone. OF COURSE NOT!! Truly, I am just trying to show you from an objective standpoint why I believe your efforts were improper and how if you put yourself in the others' shoes, you say, yea, I didn't look at it that way.
I was a mental wreck after having to gather info for the hearing. When I retained her, I was desperate and had less than 2 weeks to get representation. I remember telling her that I wanted to discuss a reduced fee since Why would she reduce the fee after you signed the agreement? Also, when we take cases 'last minute' it often requires (if we are to do a good job) blowing off the rest of our lives for 2 weeks. Literally, no other work, no family, cancel that vacation, no dinner with the kids, little sleep - all because a claimant was hoping to do it herself, despite not investing in the education or training, so that IF she won (despite hurting her chances by not using an experienced rep), she'd have a bigger check of back benefits. Going cheap and then realizing we should have been willing to invest a tad in ourselves. Then the claimant hears from the Judge - you need a better job here, get an experienced attorney - and she does, but still keeps thinking about the payday and how to pay less IF she wins. I see this a lot, and I don't think most claimants consciously think this way, but it is typically clearly an unconscious mindset.
she had just begun the case and all of the paperwork had been submitted, The paperwork was clearly inadequate because if you had adequate paperwork, guess what? Judges provide OTR awards - "on the record award" because the paperwork makes clear that there is legal disability. Apparently your legal brief didn't cut it, as you didn't get the OTR AND, the judge even put off your hearing since at the hearing you didn't seem to cut it - but your rep's new presentation did...
but she wouldn't compromise at all. Neither would I. ANd neither would you have agreed to change your agreement to 2X25% of back benefits if the case went on for 2 years and your lawyer would otherwise have worked for less than min. wage - would you? If the fee was 5300 and she said, come on, I worked my tail off for 2 years for you, as a result we WON, I think you should pay me 10k even though are agreement was capped at 5300...WOULD YOU SAY, OK, here is another $5k for you...
Remember, the point of contingency is that ALL the cases, the lawyer absorbs ALL of YOUR financial risk. She accepts the fact that she gets paid zero for all work if you lose your case, despite fine work put forward, and you are thrilled with that, but she also gets 25% if the case gets won faster. That is the balancing of contingency. Imagine getting zero without the benefit of knowing that on another case if you win you will make the 5300 to help offset the zero or near zero win. BUT FOR CONTINENCY, people with hard cases, (like you, apparently, since you lost more than once) would be unable to get anyone to help them - we wouldn't be able to take potential non-winners if we were not allowed to make are contractually agreed fee elsewhere). Half the claimants that win a tough case because they had a working rep making their case stronger, would lose the ability to retain a rep, and all would then lose chance of winning their benefits - and have to live in a homeless shelter, potentially, forever. This is what happens when we change the rules of fairness in fees - people just stop being willing to help the difficult case client.
I was hoping that it would be addressed at the hearing, but it wasn't. Your FEE? You were hoping the Judge would discuss your FEE??? His job is to determine if you are diabled. Period. Afterwards, he approves or disapproves the FEE AGREEMENT to see if it is legal as per SSA requirements. He checks to see if YOU agreed to the fee. In the end, I was taken advantage of. Not by your attorney - you are saying she took advantage of you because she fulfilled EXACTLY what you asked her to do (please get me a win AND limit your fee to just 25% of back benefits (and I have news, $5300 for 1-2 weeks of full time work would typically run, billable, at $300x40 hours = $12000 bill per week - but she agreed to the SSA very discounted disability fee arrangement, probably because she likes helping people legally, even though it does not pay well as a career, which puts her in a different breed of lawyer than most, I suspect) - now you are unhappy with it and want your contract changed so you keep more of her paycheck. That is confusing to me.That's life I guess. Not being permitted to breach your signed agreement, yes, that is typically life, and we are all stuck with that.
Moreover, your AWARD letter (decision letter) TOLD you could ask for a different fee from what your contract stated, and while I think that would be wholey unethical for you to do, the SSA law, very claimant protective, did allow you that AND you were told then in your letter. Usually about 15 days time limit to do so. I guess you didn't decide to do that but still feel the world is against you because the fee didn't change magically? (I'm not being rude here, I promise, I'm just trying to show that you may be feeling wronged when there was no wrong - and that you didn't take the action you were invited, expressly, to take, if you didn't like this, that or the other.
6. I asked my WC attorney to add language after the wage differential award (before the SSA award), How did you know about the "language" if WHY did you agree to sign an agreement you were uncomfortable with? You have to realize, when you sign something, a contract, saying you agree to it, that is a promise. Don't sign it if you secretly don't agree to it.
but he refused to do anything for me after the hearing. Again, I'd not sign unless he explained to me in writing WHY the language should not be changed. And if he committed malpractice, I'd file a malpractice claim against him - not sleeping on that right - but doing so before the statute of limitations runs.
(Unfortunately, that situation made it difficult for me to trust my next attorney.) Therefore, I requested a hearing pro se to get more defined language for my wage differential award, but the WC ALJ did not address it at all. She only dealt with attorney fees to be paid to the 2 former attorneys that had worked on my claim. I take it you'd already settled your case and it was a done deal - so she was saying - Ma'm, this is YOUR agreement - I can't go change it, that is not how contract law works.
(I really wish I had contacted you then.) Can you recommend a good Illinois WC attorney, or a website where I can find good, reputable attorneys? I find word of mouth is best, XXXXX XXXXX I don't work with any IL WC attorneys. You could, however, search on martindale.com or lawyers.com and see which law firms are highly rated by their peers AND their clients (particularly on martindale).
I believe my case has been reopened to address the onset date because I requested a reconsideration. Reconsideration request is done AFTER an initial decision (your decision was not initial but, rather, was after ALJ Hearing) and must be done within 60 days, not 3 years. I still can not find where you will escape the fact that you chose to wait 3 years? Typicall, when we appeal an ALJ hearing, it is to the Appeals Counsel, then we file suit in federal district court if still unsatisfied.
Since then, the responded saying I amended the onset date and they determined the overpayment during the reconsideration. Overpayment has to do with WC, not Onset, right?
After speaking to the SSA rep today, his information is changing, so I will try to send him a letter confirming what we have discussed also. Yes, please do. Since they usually do not know what they are talking about, they speak to you, then learn more, than change what they said - he is NOT a binding decisionmaker, in any event.
He says it could take a couple of weeks to get the CD? of the hearing transcript. I am sure.
Therefore, I will need to file or decline an appeal to the onset date before knowing whether I agreed to an amended AOD or not. Just appeal, you can always withdraw later, if you find out you did something you forgot about.
Thank you for your encouragement. You are welcome, I know I am likely sounding "tough" here, but there are things I think you interpret differently, that are causing you to feel tromped on (because you likely HAVE been tromped on in other ways, in other places and by other people), and you may not have been tromped on in this instance - knowing that, if it is so, can help to move on from it, rather than brain analyze the perceived tromping for months and years to come. It can sometimes be more profitable (as a person) to cut losses and move on.....rather than stay in the mud because we feel we were wronged, not realizing that we may have dropped the ball causing the wronged effect.
This process is very difficult for me and is taking a lot out of me, but I'm afraid to not fight it. Just make sure the fight, even if you win, won't cause you more loss (mentally, physically) than the win willl reap you.
Can you recommend a good WC attorney in IL? See above.
It has been my pleasure communcating with you. My honor to interact with you! Thanks again. Welcome and thank you as well.