Recently it’s been brought to my attention that the Westchester Department of Social Services has contracted with an organization based in Idaho to handle Social Security Disability claims for some of their local clients.
While it is certainly wonderful that members of New York’s most underserved population have access to assistance in obtaining their Disability benefits, it is disturbing to me that the DSS feels the need to contract that service out of New York State. What I find appalling, however, is that the DSS actually encourages–dare I say–pressures their clients to utilize this service even if those clients have already retained my services. One of my own clients came to me this week, confused and upset that he was being told by DSS to discontinue his relationship with me.
As an attorney who has been representing Disabled individuals in the Social Security process for over a decade, I know better than most how important it is that a claimant be represented throughout the Disability process, and I am thrilled that people are being encouraged to obtain representation and assistance with their claims. At the same time, it is frustrating to me that my clients are being pressured to reconsider their choice of representative, and being encouraged to develop what would essentially be a phone relationship with an organization based 2600 miles away, creating a situation where they will never have the opportunity to meet their attorney or any of the staff handling the case.