Surveys show that claimants who hire Social Security disability lawyers are more likely to win their claim than if they file alone or with a disability advocate. Before making the decision, it’s a good idea to understand how much it will cost to hire a disability lawyer.
Social Security disability lawyers work on a ‘contingency’ basis. This means we do not receive payment unless we win your claim. This means that unlike other attorneys, disability lawyers do not charge up-front fees by the hour. They also don’t require a retainer to work on your Social Security disability claim.
If you hire a disability lawyer, you will receive a document called a free agreement. This agreement will include language that allows Social Security to pay your attorney if you are successful.
The Social Security Administration (SSA) will review this agreement to make sure it meets their general guidelines.
Your disability lawyer is entitled to payment if you win your claim. This pay is calculated using the following formula:
The Amount of Past-Due Benefits You Are Awarded x 25% = Attorney’s Fee
It’s important to note that this fee is capped and cannot exceed $6,000. This amount is based on the amount of any past-due benefits you are awarded – commonly called back pay. First, Social Security determines your ‘date of disability.’ Then, they calculate back pay based on that date. Since claimants typically wait two to three years to receive benefits, it is common for them to receive back pay.
In some instances, the SSA will rule you are disabled going forward but not as of the alleged onset date of disability. If that’s the case, you will still receive benefits, but your lawyer will not receive any payment for time spent on your claim. This does happen occasionally.
What’s a Fee Petition and When Is It Used?
In rare circumstances, your attorney may file a fee petition with Social Security asking to be paid more than the fee Social Security allowed for on your claim. At our firm, we rarely see fee petitions come across our desk. When they are used, we typically seem them submitted when a claimant has worked with multiple lawyers and their former lawyer is requesting a percentage of the fee.
No matter how many lawyers you have worked with on your claim, their total fees can still not exceed the $6,000 cap.
In addition to the attorney fees, our firm charges minimal out-of-pocket fees to reimburse us for the cost of requesting relevant medical and vocational records. We use these records to help us to develop a successful claim.
Most of the time, these costs are under $100 but it depends on the number of medical facilities and the number of visits we use in developing your claim. We front these costs for our clients and then collect these fees at the conclusion of your claim.
If you’re considering filing for disability, we encourage you to contact us for a free consultation on your claim. You owe nothing if we’re not successful and we’d be happy to advise you accordingly as to best next steps.