The Social Security process can be complicated and lengthy, especially if appeals are involved. It is possible that a person can handle the matter without the assistance of an attorney, but the process can end up being much easier and handled much more efficiently if an attorney is hired.
However, how much does an attorney cost in a typical social security case? We have asked attorney, Alaina Sullivan, and here is what she had to say:
Contingency Fee Arrangement
Disability or social security attorneys do not tend to require up-front fees or retires to take a case. Most of them are paid only if they win the case on a contingency fee basis, much like personal injury attorneys.
A contingency fee agreement is signed by the client and the attorney when the attorney takes on the SSDI or SSI case that allows the Social Security Administration (SSA) to pay the attorney if the claim is approved.
It is important that the SSA has the chance to review the agreement to ensure that it meets legal requirements for fee agreements in these cases. This review is to ensure that the attorney does not receive anything more than legally allowed and to ensure that the attorney is not taking advantage of the client.
How Much Will the Attorney Receive?
Under Social Security disability fee agreements, the fee the attorney will be paid must be limited to 25 percent of the total past-due benefits the client is awarded. A cap does exist, capping the amount the attorney receives to a maximum of $6,000.
It should be noted that the attorney will only receive payment out of the “back pay” or the amount of benefits that are past-due. If the client does not receive back-dated or past-due benefits, the attorney will not receive a fee.
If this is the case, the attorney can submit a fee petition to the SSA to request a higher fee. The SSA will take the lawyer’s fee from the first disability check received, which will include the award of bank pay, before the agency sends the client the check.
What is Disability Back Pay?
After the client is approved by the SSA for disability benefits, they will determine just how far back these benefits go. Under SSDI, back pay includes retroactive benefits that go back to the date of approval to the date the SSA determined that the disability began.
This date is set to a maximum of twelve months back from the date of the application. For SSI benefits, these are calculated from the date the client is approved for benefits back to the month after the person applied for benefits.
However, regardless, the disability attorney can only charge 25 percent of the back pay for his or her services, capped at a maximum of $6,000. The attorney can attempt to get more money in back pay by negotiating the disability onset date with the SSA.
A disability attorney will many times need to pay for certain services to go along with the client’s case. For instance, if the attorney needs to request medical, work, or school records, these come at a cost, and the cost can end up being quite a lot.
The attorney will often require the client to pay these costs up-front, separately from the attorney’s fee. The attorney may also require the client to pay charges for copying and for postage, which tend to be fairly minimal in perspective to other legal fees.
The attorney may ask for the client to pay for these costs in advance before the costs are made, especially if the attorney anticipates the need to request medical records and would like to have this money held in trust for when the costs are incurred.
All of these costs should be discussed with the disability attorney before any agreement is signed so that the client is aware of the costs beforehand and so that they are also included in any agreement and not sprung on the client after-the-fact.
Contact an Attorney Today
If you are in the middle of a complicated social security disability dispute and have questions about how to proceed with your case, it is recommended that you contact a social security attorney to discuss your options.
An attorney can listen to the facts of the case and can best advise you on how to proceed. Contact an attorney experienced in social security disability to schedule a consultation today.