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How Is A Social Security Attorney Paid



Social security attorneys tend to use what is known as a contingency fee structure when charging for their services. This means that you do not have to pay unless and until your attorney wins your case. The money will come out of the settlement with the Social Security Administration for the back pay that you are owed. According to SSA regulations, lawyers may not charge more than 25 percent of the total back pay for their services up to a maximum amount of $6,000.

About Contingency Fees

Contingency payment is a relief for many workers seeking SSDI benefits, as money is usually tight due to medical bills associated with the recent illness or disability. The contingency fees will include the hourly cost of meeting with the lawyer, any related legal applications and any court appeals if necessary.

Some social security attorneys charge additional money for preliminary costs such as requests for medical, school and work records, postage and copying. These costs are not included in the attorney's fee as recognized by the SSA, but many lawyers simply float these costs and charge the full 25% of back pay if and when they win the SSD case.

How Payment Works

Your lawyer will work out a payment agreement directly with the SSA, so you may not have to discuss money at all. The SSA will deduct 25% of the back pay awarded, to a maximum of $6,000, and give it to your lawyer. In order to do this, you and your lawyer must file a fee agreement with the SSA before it makes a decision. This agreement is generally filed with the rest of the SSDI paperwork. As long as there are no exceptions to this agreement, the SSA will accept it and pay your lawyer.

In many cases, your lawyer will even be paid before you begin receiving your disability benefits due to the bureaucratic process involved in the SSA offices.

What to Ask Your SSD Attorney

When it comes to money, the only important questions you need to ask your SSD lawyer are:

  • Do you work on contingency?
  • Will you charge any out-of-pocket costs prior to my claim's approval?

These will help you determine if you can afford the lawyer's help or not. Contingency is a given; if a SSD lawyer will not work on contingency, consider other options. Attorneys do not always float out-of-pocket charges, however, so figure out your budget and if it is worth it to get a certain lawyer if he makes you pay up-front for retrieving records and other preliminary elements of your case.