'No Fee Unless You Win' - How Social Security Lawyers Get Paid
It may surprise you to learn that you will not need to pay any money up front to hire an attorney to represent you in your Social Security Disability case. In fact, if we do not win your case, there will be no fee at all.
How much do I pay if I win my case?
The usual fee is 25% of any “back pay” that you receive. In other words, the fee is one-fourth of the benefits that build up by the time you are found disabled and benefits are paid. In most cases, the fee is capped at $6,000. However, if we have to file an appeal after the first Administrative Law Judge hearing, our contract drops the $6,000 limit. Still, the fee will never exceed 25% of your back pay and will never come out of your future benefits.
What is back pay?
“Back pay,” sometimes called “past due benefits” or “retroactive benefits” is the money that Social Security should have been paying you all along. When your disability claim is approved, Social Security will pay you back for the time that you should have been receiving benefits. In some cases, this “back pay” will go back to the day that you filed your application. In other cases, it will go back as far as 12 months prior to the date of application. The attorney fee comes out of this “back pay” only. Your attorney will not get any portion of your “future benefits.”
What are future benefits?
When your claim is approved, you will begin receiving a monthly disability payment from the SSA. You will continue receiving these benefits for as long as the SSA believes you are disabled – or until you reach the age of retirement and begin collecting Social Security retirement benefits. As explained above, the attorney fee does not include any portion of these future benefits. They are 100% yours.
When is the fee paid?
The fee is paid only after you win your case and benefits are awarded.
How is the fee paid?
The vast majority of the time, the Social Security Administration will withhold the attorney fee from your back pay and pay your attorney directly. However, on a rare occasion, the SSA will forget to withhold the attorney fee and pay it directly to the claimant. If this happens, you will be responsible for returning the fee to the SSA or paying your attorney directly.
What are costs?
The process of proving that you are disabled sometimes requires us to order medical records from your treating medical providers. While Social Security normally orders these records and pays the costs, sometimes they leave it up to you. As your representative, we will order the records for you, and pay the costs up front, but will ask you to reimburse us when the case is closed. The costs are typically no more than $50 to $200.