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Social Security lawyers work "on contingency," which implies they only get paid if they succeed with your disability claim.
Whether you are applying for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI), an attorney or disability help group will work on your case for free until the case is resolved. Even if your case drags on for years, you do not pay a lawyer until it is resolved.
What Should Be In A Fee Agreement?
The Social Security Administration (SSA) must receive a written fee agreement from a lawyer before issuing a favorable ruling on the case. The attorney will submit the fee agreement as soon as they accept your case.
Social Security provides language suggestions for fee agreements; generally, there are only two main requirements. The fee cannot exceed Social Security's maximum: 25% of back pay or $6,000, whichever is less. For example, if you are awarded $20,000 in backpay, your lawyer can collect $5,000 (25% of $20,000).
Alternatively, the attorney and the Social Security claimant must sign an agreement. In the case of a child, a parent must sign on behalf of the child. Adults with guardians should have the guardian sign the claim.
SSA permits disability lawyers to request more than the $6,000 fee limit if a case requires several hearings or appeals to the Appeals Council or federal court. Social Security will review fee petitions and approve them only if they appear reasonable.
Who Pays For Legal Costs?
There are two types of expenses in a case: the amount charged by the lawyer for their time and the expenditure they spend while working on your case. In a standard Social Security case, a lawyer will pay for copying and postage to obtain records that will support proving a claimant's disability.
These records are usually found in a hospital, doctor's office, school, or a mental health facility, among other places. Some medical facilities will give your records free of charge to a lawyer; however, most charge for copies, sometimes 25 cents per page. Typically, copying and mailing expenses in a case are between $100 and $200.
Attorneys in Social Security disability cases are not permitted to charge upfront fees for their time. However, they are allowed to charge an upfront fee reasonable enough to cover predicted expenditures in a case. As a result, some lawyers can ask you to pay a small fee beforehand to cover the costs of your case.
Suppose you are in the midst of a complex social security disability dispute and are unsure how much representation can cost you. In that case, it is advised to consult with a social security attorney to discuss your possibilities.
An attorney or disability help group can best recommend how to proceed after listening to the facts of the case. Schedule a consultation with an attorney with experience in Social Security disability.
What other benefits can you get along with SSDI? Read our blog post at Disability Help to learn more about your options.