How Does a Disability Lawyer Get Paid?
Published February 15, 2019
Many disabled veterans are in need of Social Security disability benefits, but the process for receiving those benefits can be complex, stressful, and confusing if they try to do it alone. A social security disability lawyer can help make the process faster, easier, and will effectively represent a veteran’s best interests to the Social Security Administration. However, many veterans do not utilize an attorney because they feel that they do not have the money to pay for one or they do not understand how a social security disability attorney is paid.
How a Lawyer Gets Paid
Almost every social security disability attorney operates on a contingency fee basis. The lawyer’s fee is contingent on you winning your social security disability claim. If the lawyer can not secure your benefits, then they do not collect a penny. If the attorney does help you win your case, the Social Security Administration will facilitate the fee payment to the lawyer.
The only exception to the contingency fee is that some attorneys may request that you pay a nominal fee upfront for the costs of the case. This typically is no more than a couple hundred dollars, but it covers the cost of securing medical records, copying, postage, travel, and long-distance phone calls. Your lawyer should walk you through the expense agreement prior to signing on to the case so you know exactly what costs are being covered and how much it will be.
What a Lawyer Gets Paid
If an attorney secures your application or wins your appeal in which you are owed back pay benefits or past-due benefits from the Social Security Administration, the attorney receives the lesser of 25% or $6,000 of the backpay benefits. If the appeals process progresses to the Appeals Council or Federal Court before the case is won, the attorney is paid a flat 25% fee of the past-due benefits. If no backpay is awarded, the attorney does not collect a fee for the services rendered.
In addition, you do not have to worry about making payments to your attorney from the backpay. The Social Security Administration will take the lawyer’s fee directly out of your back pay before it sends your check. Everything is handled for you, so you do not have to worry about paying your attorney for their services.
A lawyer may also submit a fee petition to the Social Security Administration that contains an itemized list of activities for the case if expenses were not requested upfront for the costs of the case. The Administration must review and approve the list of items before the lawyer is reimbursed, and the costs must all be reasonable and related to the case. An experienced disability benefits attorney will be able to review all of the costs and payment terms with you before you decide to hire a lawyer.