Before you hire a social security disability lawyer, there are some things you need to know, particularly the fees.
In premise, an SSI lawyer will work on a contingency fee, in which he will get paid if, and when, you have been granted benefits.
In this article, we will cover everything concerning the fees for a social security disability lawyer.
So keep reading to learn more.
What Is A Contingency Fee?
If you have any concerns regarding whether or not you will be able to afford a va benefits lawyer, you can disregard them altogether.
All Social Security disability lawyers work through contingency fees. As mentioned earlier, this means that they are only paid if, and when, you receive benefits. If your benefits claim is not approved, they will not get paid.
So there is no upfront cost. When you go to hire a lawyer, you will sign a contingency fee agreement that will determine the terms by which they receive payment.
The agreements are subject to review and approval by the Social Security Administration. Nonetheless, you should read through it as well, and ask a question if something doesn’t make sense.
A lawyer that does not want to explain the technical jargon within the agreement is up to no good.
How Much Is A Typical Lawyer Fee?
When signing the agreement, the fee is entirely limited to a sum of 25% from the past-due benefits you will receive, up to a total of $6000. But if you decide to appeal with the federal court, a separate fee is applicable, but most cases do not get past the hearing phase.
Attorneys will only get paid out of past-due benefits, also known as back pay. If no back-dated benefits are applicable to your case, they won’t get paid. In this case, a lawyer can submit a fee petition to Social Security, which allows them to request a higher fee for subsequent cases.
Some lawyers will ask you to pay nominal costs in the beginning, but this is rare. So when do you have to pay the fee? Usually, you won’t. The SSA takes the fee from your first check, and then automatically transfer it to them.
In a greater majority of relationships with social security disability lawyers, the back pay that they take rarely reaches the $6000 cap. However, this is entirely subject to the terms that you sign, so make sure that you get several quotes from many lawyers.
What Should A Fee Agreement Have?
A social security disability lawyer has to submit a contingency fee agreement to Social Security before any decision is applicable upon the claim. Most lawyers will submit the agreement when your case seems reasonable to them.
Social Security has created guidelines for the language used in a fee agreement, but in reality, there are only two requirements. First, the quantity of the fee cannot exceed a value determined by Social Security, which is lesser than 25% of backpay or $6000.
For instance, if your back pay is $24000, your lawyer can collect $5500. Second, the agreement has to have your signature (the claimant) and the lawyers. If a claimant is a minority, the parent should sign for them. If the claimant is an adult with guardian control, the guardian should sign instead.
In any case, the language and agreement structure has no strict format. Whatever describes the process, lists the entities involved, the numeric amount for the fee, and has both signatures will be a valid legally-bound document that is enforceable when necessary.
So before you sign this document, make sure that you agree with all of the conditions. If you think the lawyer is up to no good, it might be time to look elsewhere. There is nothing worse than an untrustworthy lawyer who helps people entirely for their own good.
Who Pays for the Legal Costs?
When it comes to the actual case, there are two kinds of expenses involved. First, the quantity charged by the lawyer for their time. Second, the expenses that they make while working on the case.
In a typical case, the lawyer will pay the postage and copying fees to get medical records to support the fact of your disability. These records can reside at schools, hospitals, doctors’ offices, mental health institutions, etc.
Some institutions might provide the lawyer with the records for free, but most do charge a fee for a copy. This can get costly, in some cases at 25 cents per page. Usually, mailing and copying in a case does not exceed $200.
While social security disability lawyers cannot charge upfront for the time they will spend, they can charge an upfront fee to cover expected expenses. Some attorneys will ask that you cover the costs with a small advance. If the costs have been paid in advance, the attorney will hold the money in a trust account. They will notify when they withdraw money from the account and return all of the money that is left after the case is settled.
Most lawyers will not ask to pay these costs. But they will ensure that you reimburse them for their costs at the end of the case. Whether or not you have to pay for the costs will be determined by the language in the agreement. If you have any questions about it, speak to your lawyer.
How Is Backpay Calculated?
Once approved for benefits, the SSA will determine the quantity of backpay that they owe you. For SSDI, the backpay includes retroactive benefits that are owed to you from the date you were approved, back to the date that the SSA determined the beginning of your disability (12 months maximum from the date of application).
For SSI, the benefits are determined from the date you have been approved for benefits back to the month after you applied for them.
Once again, the maximum that a lawyer can charge is $6000 or 25% of your backpay. For instance, if your back-dated benefits are determined to be $10000, your lawyer will be paid with $2500, you will receive the remaining $7500.
However, they can get paid more, as well as you, if they negotiate the onset date of your disability with SSA. This is something you cannot do without a hearing if you’re not represented by a lawyer.
What Can A Social Security Disability Lawyer Do That I Can’t?
A lawyer will act on your behalf in a variety of ways when dealing with the SSA. They can access information from your SS file, and pul medical records and other supporting evidence to create your claim.
If you have transportation or mobility issues, lawyers might attend all of your interviews, hearings, and conferences in your place. This means you don’t have to go to court and talk to a judge at all.
If the SSA rejects your application, a lawyer can request a complete reconsideration of your file, or appeal with necessary paperwork immediately. They can also request an Appeals Council review or a new hearing date.
A disability lawyer will help you and witnesses prepare for the hearing of the appeal as well. They will also receive a copy of the decision about your claim. This is important because then a lawyer can help you find out why SSA denied your benefits application.
Also, if you’re a disabled veteran, a disability lawyer can bill the federal government for the fees. They can also help mistakenly turned down disabled veterans get their benefits. If the error of the government costs you, the legal fees will be covered by the Equal Access to Justice Act. This law says that the government is required to pa the legal fees for anyone who sues them for money they rightfully deserve and win.
The lawyer covers the lawyer’s fees up to $125 per hour, plus other expenses. This is particularly interesting for people who need a workers compensation attorney.
Now that you know everything you could possibly want to know about a social security disability lawyer, you are well on your way to making sure that you get the benefits that you deserve.
No matter what stage in the claiming process you are currently in, a lawyer can tremendously help you with getting the best possible payment bracket, receiving larger backpay, and getting your benefits when you’ve been denied.
So don’t deny yourself this opportunity, find a qualified lawyer who can help you. If you’re interested in similar articles, go through our categorical filters for “law” topics at the top of the website.