It's not uncommon that a claimant seeking SSI/SSDI benefits comes to a lawyer after having been represented by another lawyer who is now out of the picture. Sometimes, the reason is because the claimant fired the previous lawyer or firm and sometimes it is the other way around (the firm withdrew from the case). Lawyers or law firms can withdraw from a case without cause or reason. As an example, a major national Social Security Disability law firm recently began to wind down its practice and as a result had to withdraw from representation from thousands of claimants' cases.
One issue that the subsequent lawyer faces after evaluating whether he/she believes the case can be proven at the hearing is the question of whether the prior lawyer is waiving all potential fees. If not, the new lawyer would need to file a fee petition (delineating the work done and potential amount of payment sought for the work) in the event the claimant wins the case.
Although the new lawyer's fee petition is often approved when well supported and reasonable to the ALJ (administrative law judge) which permits the new lawyers to be paid for services rendered, some lawyers may consider this to be a burden and for that reason reject representation of the claimant who has had a prior representative. This puts the claimant in a difficult position therefore - he or she is searching desperately with little time remaining before appearing in front of the ALJ, thereby creating additional stress after the long wait to the hearing. Sometimes the claimant can procure a letter from the prior representative that "waives all fees" for services rendered creating an easier transition for the new representative.