Hiring a lawyer to handle your Social Security disability claim may seem overwhelming. Due to your disability, finances might be especially tight, and you may not think you can afford an attorney.
But, a disability lawyer can navigate the in’s and out’s of the claim system for you, taking on the paperwork and everything else involved.
Of course, you are asking, “how much does a disability lawyer cost?” Not as much as you may think. Check out this guide to learn more about how disability lawyers get paid.
How Much Does a Disability Lawyer Cost: The Contingency Fee
The good news is that disability lawyers neither charge up-front fees nor do they require a retainer to work on a Social Security disability case. Rather, disability attorneys will receive a fee only if they win the case. This fee is called a contingency fee.
When you hire a disability attorney you will sign an agreement that allows the Social Security Administration (SSA) to pay your attorney only if they approve your claim. The SSA will also review the agreement to make sure it meets standard fee agreement guidelines. This review ensures that your attorney cannot overcharge you.
The SSA will normally limit the contingency fee to 25% of your “backpay” (or “past-due benefits,”) or $6,000, whichever is less. According to recent surveys, 7 out of 10 claimants said their lawyers received less than the maximum attorney fee for social security disability.
And, since the fee comes from your back pay, you will not need to write a check for the cost of your legal services. If you are not awarded any backpay, your lawyer will not receive this fee. This fee agreement applies if you receive benefits as early as the initial application stage, or if your lawyer represents you at a hearing.
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How Is Backpay Determined?
Backpay will include benefits accrued from the date of your approval back to the date the SSA determined your disability began (for a maximum of 12 months.)
Here’s an example: if your back-dated benefits are $10,000, your attorney will get paid $2,500 (which is 25 percent,) and you will receive $7,500.
An attorney can also attempt to get more benefits for both of you by negotiating your disability onset date with the SSA.
Other Possible Costs
Your disability lawyer will request a lot of paperwork on your behalf, such as medical, work, or school records. There may be copying and postage fees incurred by your lawyer as well. You will most likely have to pay any costs incurred in tracking down that paperwork.
Usually, you will have to pay these costs up-front, apart from the contingency fee. But, your attorney will be required to keep any monies you give them for this purpose in a trust, using it only when needed for said costs. These fees are usually not burdensome, often under $200.00.
Reputable firms, such as this disability attorney, will disclose all fees upfront before you hire them. If they don’t, find another firm.
How to Hire a Disability Attorney
Now that the question of how much does a disability lawyer cost is answered, you might want to do a little research about the particular condition you are facing, and what SSA benefits you may be entitled to.
Ask friends or family for a recommendation, as word-of-mouth is often the best advertisement for legal services.
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