How Much Does It Cost to Hire a Disability Social Security Attorney?
In most cases, there is no upfront cost to hire a disability lawyer. They work on a contingency basis, and their fees are paid directly from your back pay when your case is approved.
However, the SSA caps attorney fees at 25% of your back pay or $6,000, whichever is less. So what does it cost to hire a disability Social Security lawyer?
Costs for Medical Records
An attorney for disability social security must often request medical records, school or work records, and other documents to support a claim. These costs can add up quickly and include charges for photocopying and postage.
Generally, most disability attorneys will not ask clients to pay for these expenses out of pocket. Instead, they will put those charges in a trust account and seek reimbursement from the SSA directly. These types of expenses usually do not total more than a hundred dollars.
For cases that require a hearing or other significant legal representation, disability attorneys may use an arrangement called a fee petition. This allows them to charge a higher, non-capped fee, but the petition still needs to be approved by Social Security. For most disability claims, however, the attorney’s fee is capped at $7,200 or 25% of any back-pay awarded by SSA, whichever is less. This limit is imposed by law and cannot be exceeded by the lawyer.
Costs for Tests
Most disability lawyers will not ask you to pay anything upfront for their services. They typically work on a contingency basis, meaning they only get paid once the SSA approves their client’s claim. At that point, the SSA will award their clients back benefits. The lawyer’s fee is limited to 25 percent of the past-due benefits the SSA awards the client.
When winning a disability case, an attorney must request records from various institutions, such as hospitals and doctors’ offices. Some facilities may charge a fee for copies, but others do not. In most cases, they are copying fees, and postage costs average at most $100-200. In addition, if the lawyer needs to request independent medical or psychological examinations, those expenses can add up. The SSA must first approve all disability attorneys’ fees before they can collect them, though. As such, they are not allowed to overcharge for their services.
Costs for Legal Documents
During a disability case, a lawyer must request various legal documents from hospitals, doctors’ offices, schools, and mental health facilities. These documents can come at a cost, such as copying fees and postage charges. However, these costs usually do not add up to more than $100-200 during a case.
The client will usually be responsible for paying these costs separately from the attorney’s fee, but the attorney should explain this in the fee agreement before any costs are incurred. This ensures that these costs are not sprung on the client later in the process.
Social Security disability attorneys typically work on a contingency basis, meaning they only get paid when their claim is approved for back pay. They must submit a fee agreement to the SSA for approval before charging a contingency fee. The SSA will then subtract the lawyer’s fee from the back pay award before paying the client.
Costs for Travel
A good disability attorney will best know how to present evidence for your case. They can also develop arguments that will make an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) more likely to approve your claim. They will be able to explain the medical tools you need, and they can make sure that irrelevant information is not submitted, which could aggravate an ALJ.
Some attorneys will ask you to pay for expenses like photocopying and travel, but they will reimburse you from the money they receive from Social Security in your case. In any case, the attorney fees are capped at $6,000 or 25 percent of back payments you would receive during an appeal, whichever is lower. Surveys show that applicants with an attorney are much more likely to be approved for benefits. The earlier an attorney gets involved, the better. This is especially true during the application stage and at the appeal hearing.