You are here

Bench Bar Committee on Social Security Disability Appeals


The Committee has produced four podcasts, approximately 15 minutes each. Attorneys can obtain one CLE ethics credit from the Washington State Bar Association for listening to all four segments in this series. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Committee chose an audio-only format to provide access to this informative series, featuring attorneys and judges discussing important ethics topics. Written materials and outlines are also provided. The WSBA Activity ID for requesting CLE credit is 1164520.

Podcast 1: Practice Tips for Effective and Ethical Legal Writing
In this podcast, Magistrate Judge Theresa Fricke will discuss ethics in Social Security disability appeals practice specific to writing. This is a panel presentation with Chris Dellert, plaintiffs’ attorney, and Joe Langkamer, a Government attorney. The discussion will involve Washington’s Rules of Professional Conduct (RPC) with respect to briefing practices in federal court.

Podcast 2a & 2b: Ethical Considerations Regarding the Respective Roles of the Claimant and the Attorneys for Both Sides
(2a: Attorneys for the Claimant; 2b: Attorneys for the Administration)
In these podcasts, Magistrate Judge J. Richard Creatura will have a panel discussion about ethical considerations regarding the respective roles of the claimant, the Administration, and attorneys for both sides. In podcast 2a, we will hear the perspective of Victoria Chhagan and Amy Gilbrough, attorneys who represent claimants. In podcast 2b, we will hear the perspective of Stephen Dmetruk, an Administration attorney.

Podcast 3: Ethical Considerations in Case Management
In this podcast, Magistrate Judge David Christel will have a panel discussion with Erin Highland and Leanne Martinez about Washington Rules of Professional Conduct 1.3 and 3.2. The panelists will share their experiences, challenges, and best practices of case management.

Combined Resource Materials for the Podcast Series.

United States District Court for the
Western District of Washington
Bench Bar Committee on Social Security
Disability Appeals

Members: The Honorable Tana Lin, District Judge (co-chairperson); The Honorable Theresa L. Fricke, Magistrate Judge (co-chairperson); The Honorable Grady J. Leupold, Magistrate Judge; Eric Smits; Victoria Chhagan; Nicole Jabaily; Becca Cohen; Maria Manalac.

The Social Security Disability Bench Bar Committee is comprised of representatives from the Court, attorneys who specialize in Social Security practice for the plaintiffs’ bar, and government counsel from the Office of General Counsel and the U.S. Attorney’s Civil Division. The Committee is a problem-solving sounding board and serves as an advisory group to help the Court implement and obtain feedback about proposed changes to protocols. This Committee also collaborates with the Social Security disability legal community to host Continuing Legal Education events.


The Annual Bench-Bar CLE on Social Security Appeals Practice in the Western District of Washington

Thursday, December 7, 2023

1:30 p.m. – 5:00 p.m.

Please join us for the annual CLE Seminar sponsored by the Western District of Washington’s Social Security Disability Bench Bar Committee.  This year’s program will be hosted by the Hon. Tana Lin, District Judge, and the Hon. Theresa J. Fricke, U.S. Magistrate Judge – Co-Chairs of the Western District of Washington Bench-Bar Committee on Social Security Disability Appeals. This CLE is planned and produced in partnership with the Federal Bar Association for the Western District of Washington, and the King County Bar Association.

Opening remarks and an overview of the Social Security Disability Bench-Bar Committee of the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington, and a preview of the afternoon’s CLE program will be given by Chief Judge David G. Estudillo, and District Judge Tana Lin.

Joe Solseng, Attorney, and Adjunct Professor at Seattle University will provide insights and recommendations about respectful language in the disabilities context.

Judge Kidd, Chief Administrative Law Judge and Kirk Larson, public affairs specialist with SSA, will discuss practical aspects of the appeals process in the Social Security Disability benefits system.

Attorneys Amy Gilbrough and Sarah Moum will present the new and notable SSA opinions published by the Supreme Court and Ninth Circuit.

Attorney and Chair of the Federal Bar Association's disabilities law committee, Leasnne Martinez, will moderate a panel presentation. The Hon. S. Kate Vaughan, Hon. Grady Leupold, and Judicial Law Clerk Maria Manalac will provide guidance from the District Court’s perspective, speak about practice tips for Social Security appeals, and answer questions from the Bar.

The Social Security Bench Bar Committee will host a reception/networking meeting immediately following the CLE presentation where speakers and attendees can collaborate with their colleagues, and informally discuss the Supplemental Rules of Civil Procedure that became effective in December 2022.



CLE Agenda

Caselaw Update - Sarah Moum and Amy Gilbrough

Language of Justice - Joe Solseng

Practical Aspects of Social Security Disability System - Judge Kidd and Kirk Larson


Please contact Moderator Leanne Martinez at with substantive questions for the panel.

The program is free of charge and we are seeking approval for CLE credit.

Please register in advance using the following links

In-person:  Annual Bench-Bar CLE on Social Security Appeals Practice in WDWA Tickets, Thu, Dec 7, 2023 at 1:30 PM | Eventbrite.

Virtual: Webinar Registration - Zoom (


Social Security Case Resources