The Social Security Administration has promulgated a set of rules of professional conduct that your Social Security representative must follow during the course of their representation. While one might think these rules are meant simply to protect the public and disability claimants from unscrupulous rules, in fact the rules are meant to protect the integrity of the Social Security disability fact finding process and ultimate administration of disability benefits to those disability claimants truly in need.
The Social Security disability regulatory process used to determine which Social Security disability claimants meet the definition of “disabled” under Social Security’s rules is not what one typically sees in a court room, or for that matter on TV, depicting a court room. Instead of it being an “adversarial” process where opposing sides argue it out in front of a neutral judge who is meant to be an arbiter of a dispute, the Social Security disability determination process is an administrative one that is a fact finding process where there is only one side arguing their position to a neutral judge who is meant to be a neutral finder of fact.
On April 20, 2015, the Social Security Administration (SSA) put into effect new adverse evidence regulations which laid out both an attorney’s, and a disability claimant’s, obligation to submit evidence. Prior to those rules going into effect, the professional rules required claimants and their representative to furnish medical and non-medical evidence that is “material” to a determination of disability. However, given this rule allowed attorneys to make a legal assessment as to what constitutes “material” evidence, the new rule clarified any ambiguity by requiring both lawyers and their disability claimants present any evidence, medical or non-medical, which “relates” to their disability claim.