There are specific rules in place to hire an attorney or advocate speaking on your behalf with regard to your Social Security Disability claim. These rules are there to protect claimants from unsavory business practices and to make sure that attorneys get paid if the disability claim is successful. They are universal and apply to anyone representing a Social Security disability claimant.
The first step is to create a fee agreement with your chosen disability attorney or advocate and submit it before a favorable determination is granted on a particular claim. If this is not completed before hand, then a fee petition must be filed.
For any type of representation, there are limits on how much an attorney can receive. The fees are limited to 25% of the accrued benefit amount, and they cannot exceed $7,200. Payment will be made only after a favorable determination has been made at the end of the application process. Since claims can take a long time to be processed and the first payment will be retroactive to the date the claim was filed, the first payment will include all of the months prior to the date benefits were awarded.
Attorneys will only receive 25% of the first payment or $7,200 depending on which one is lower. The payment will be sent directly from the Social Security Administration to the attorney and the balance will be sent to the claimant in the form of a check or direct deposit.
Keep in mind that it is strictly forbidden and illegal for someone to charge upfront or ongoing fees for assisting you with your disability claim. Payment is only received after a positive determination has been made. If a claim is denied, then your representative is not entitled to any compensation or payment.