Court finds valid waiver of right to counsel where claimant received multiple written notices
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Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Court finds valid waiver of right to counsel where claimant received multiple written notices

By Payroll and Entitlements Editorial Staff

A claimant can waive his right to counsel once advised of the manner by which an attorney can aid in the proceedings, the possibility of free counsel or a contingency arrangement, and the limitation on fees to 25% of past due benefits. Here, the claimant argued that the ALJ did not obtain a valid waiver of his right to counsel before allowing him to proceed pro se at the hearing. Noting that the regulations merely require the agency to notify the claimant in writing of his options for obtaining an attorney and the organizations that provide free legal services, the court concluded that the claimant was adequately advised of his right to counsel. The record contained evidence that months before the hearing the agency mailed several written notices explaining the claimant’s rights. Moreover, there was nothing to support the claimant’s argument that there was no evidence to prove he received the pamphlet on his right to representation. The claimant did not deny he received the pamphlet, he signed a form indicating he received at least one notice, and he appeared at the hearing at the correct place and time, suggesting that he read the agency’s letter to which the pamphlet was attached. In addition, the ALJ confirmed at the hearing that the claimant was appearing without an attorney and that he was aware of his right to counsel. The decision of the district court was affirmed (Christopher Jozefyk v. Commr., CA-7, No. 18-1898, May 8, 2019).

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