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The Cost of Social Security Disability Attorney

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Dollar Bills
  • When a disabled individual applies for Social Security Disability benefits it is likely that they will have their initial application for benefits denied and they will have to appeal that decision. It is strongly recommended that when you are appealing those denials that you seek out competent representation to help you navigate that appeals process. Statistics show that those with attorneys by their side have a significantly higher chance of having their benefits approved on appeal then without one.

  • Because of how beneficial it is to have representation when appealing a denial one of the most frequently asked questions is “how much will my attorney charge to represent me?” The answer to this question is straight forward but can be a bit confusing.

  • To make it easier to understand I will break it up into:

    1. Up-Front Costs

    2. Fee-Agreement/Amount

    3. Direct pay

    4. Attorney-Expenses

Up-Front Cost

  • None

  • There is no upfront cost to hiring a Disability Attorney to represent you and typically an attorney will only get paid if you win your case.

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  • When you hire an attorney, the attorney normally will have you sign a Fee-Agreement.  This Fee-Agreement is essentially a written agreement between you and your attorney about what the attorney will get in the event you win your case.

  • Currently the allowable fee to be charged is as follows:

    • The lesser of either:

      1. $6,000 or

      2. 25% of the backpay.

  • Examples

    • Example 1:

      • Jane wins her disability case and receives $50,000 in backpay. The attorney would only receive $6,000 as the attorney can only get paid the lesser of either 25% or $6,000 of the backpay. Since 25% of the backpay is $12,500 the attorney would only be entitled to the maximum amount of $6,000.

    • Example 2:

      • Janes wins her disability case and receives $500 in backpay. 25% of that is $125. Thus, the attorney would receive a maximum of $125.

    • Example 3:

      • Jane loses her disability case and receives nothing. The attorney would not be entitled to a fee at all.

  • This means that the maximum amount the attorney would get if they won your case would be the smaller amount of either $6,000 or 25% of whatever the back pay you receive is. And if you lose your case, you do not have to worry about paying your attorney a fee at all.

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  • To make it easier for clients many firms, Lemmens & Norcross PLLC included, use what we call a direct pay method. This means that Social Security will send your attorney his fee directly out of your backpay proceeds and the remainder of your backpay would be sent directly to you. This way you do not have to worry about receiving a fee-bill from the attorney as their fee has already been sent to them by the Social Security Administration.

  • Additionally, Fee Agreements must be sent into the Social Security Administration for review to ensure it complies with their rules and will be typically approved if there are no issues with them.

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  • One exception to the above fee rules is for Attorney-Expenses. These expenses are separate and distinct from the Fee-Agreement. While you do not have to pay an attorney a fee if you lose your case this is not necessarily true for the Attorney-Expenses. These expenses are typically anything your attorney had to pay in the work-up of your case. These costs include things such as obtaining your doctors records, MRI reports, X-ray reports, and CT-reports, and other objective studies. It may also include any costs your doctor charged them for filling out forms such as medical source statements or residual functional capacity assessments. Your attorney will not charge you for paper, paperclips, phone calls, time they use writing or working up your case file, etc. Attorney Expenses are solely what the attorney had to pay on your behalf to obtain your medical records and doctors’ statements.

  • Luckily, many doctors and hospitals use patient portals or may provide you your records for free. Due to this often the Attorney-Expenses will turn out to be $0 or a very minimal amount. Most attorneys will ask that you pay these expenses at the conclusion of your case so that you may reimburse them out of the proceeds of your backpay.

  • While there is a cost in hiring an attorney to represent you in your appeals process, statistics show that it is well worth it as there is a significant increase in chances of winning your case with an attorney than without. 

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