Some people seeking help with disability claims are hesitant to contact an attorney because they think they can’t afford one. If that’s holding you back, relax! Unlike other areas of law where attorneys charge $200 per hour, those handling Social Security Disability cases don’t charge AT ALL until a client is awarded benefits.
It may seem too good to be true that you can talk to an attorney for free, but that’s the rules. Lawyers dealing in Social Security matters are hired on a contingency basis. It doesn’t matter if you are applying for SSDI benefits (which are based on your work history) or SSI (based on financial resources). No fee unless you win your claim — no matter how long it takes. Attorney fees come out of any back benefits that you are awarded.
If you hire us to represent you, one of the documents you sign is a Retainer Agreement. The amount we are able to charge is set by law. Currently, fees are limited to 25 percent of back pay or $6,000, whichever is less. This agreement also applies to anyone else awarded benefits under the claim, such as minor children (who are awarded benefits if a parent is found disabled).
However, medical record fees are not included in that amount. This means we do pass on the charges imposed by doctors and their offices for providing us with medical documentation necessary to win your case. Obviously, we can’t absorb all the costs associated with obtaining medical records for all our clients. Those fees must be paid by clients whether the claim is approved or denied. And we send you notification of these as we request records along the way, so you aren’t surprised by the charges all at once when you claim is settled.
Once benefits are awarded and the Social Security Administration has approved the attorney fees, they generally withhold that money out of theback benefits and pay it directly to the attorney. Once in awhile, mistakes happen, and the fee is not withheld. In that case, clients are responsible for paying the fee out of benefits they received.
In the event a disability case requires more than one hearing, or hearings at a higher level such as the Appeals Council or in federal court, an attorney is permitted to request payment in excess of the $6,000 limit. In those instances, the attorney files something called a Fee Petition with SSA, which decides whether to approve the higher charge.
Occasionally, people who have hired attorneys or disability firms to represent them no longer want their services and want to switch. This happens for various reasons. But some are afraid to make the change because they were told by the previous rep that it will cost them double and they will need to pay both. This is absolutely false! If the previous attorney or rep won’t waive their fee for the case, it is up to SSA to decide how the fees are allotted between the two. The maximum, total amount remains the lesser of 25 percent or $6,000.
Don’t let a tight budget keep you from contacting us. Call or e-mail us and set up an appointment. You’ve got nothing to lose — and possibly much to gain.