Table of Contents
- What Does a Social Security Disability Lawyer Do?
- When Should You Hire a Social Security Disability Lawyer?
- How to Find a Social Security Disability Lawyer
- How Much are Social Security Disability Attorney Fees?
- How is a Social Security Disability Attorney Paid for Services?
- Tips for Choosing the Right Social Security Disability Attorney
The cost of a disability lawyer may vary, depending on your location and the legal firm you choose. However, some laws require Social Security disability lawyers to receive approval from Social Security Administration (SSA) before collecting any fees.
How much does a disability lawyer cost? Find out now, and also learn when to hire a Social Security disability lawyer and how much you should be paying.
What Does a Social Security Disability Lawyer Do?
Because the disability filing process can be confusing, you have the right to work with a disability lawyer. Within SSA and the right to representation, they will work with your social security disability insurance lawyer, just as they would you. A disability lawyer may handle the following duties:
Review your disability claim
Help you track down medical records
Accompany you to your disability interview
Request a reconsideration or appeal on your behalf
Help prepare you or your witnesses for an upcoming hearing
When Should You Hire a Social Security Disability Lawyer?
Hiring a disability lawyer comes with a cost, so it’s important to retain one only if it makes sense for your situation. Some people prefer hiring a disability lawyer from the beginning of the process. The disability application process can be tedious and long. It often requires you to input a lot of personal and medical information, some of which may be difficult to track down. Even small errors during the application can delay your claim or lead to it being denied.
However, even if you already applied without the assistance of a disability lawyer, you can still retain one during the appeals process. Navigating the disability appeals process can be even more confusing. Social Security disability claim representatives have previously reported that claimants who work with a lawyer from the beginning have a higher approval rate.
How to Find a Social Security Disability Lawyer
Laws allow you to choose any qualified person to represent you, as long as they weren’t previously suspended or disqualified from assisting others. Social Security also has a list of approved disability lawyers if you need somewhere to start. While the federal government doesn’t provide applicants with a disability lawyer, they can provide you with a list of trustworthy lawyers.
Once you choose your representative, you and your attorney must notify the Social Security Administration in writing as soon as possible. This written document gives the office permission to share your disability benefits information with them and discuss any confidential information. You can use the Claimant’s Appointment of a Representative form (SSA-1696 Form).
How Much are Social Security Disability Attorney Fees?
The typical rate that Social Security will allow you to pay a lawyer is 25% of your past due benefits if approved or $6,000, whichever is less. This means that disability lawyers work on a contingency fee, meaning you don’t pay anything if your lawyer or representative doesn’t win your case. Your SSDI lawyer also won’t receive any payment until you do.
A disability lawyer can’t charge you any fees until they get approval from Social Security. They can request that you pay a fee if they hold it in an escrow account until they get approval. This helps protect applicants from predatory lawyers. Your representative also can’t legally charge you more than the amount approved by Social Security.
The fee agreement doesn’t include any expenses the representative pays out of pocket, like the cost of mailing documents or medical report fees. Your disability representative can request that you reimburse them for these costs as long as they’re reasonable.
Any fee for services to a disability representative must be approved first. This includes payments that come from third-party resources, like for-profit or non-profit organizations.
If there are disagreements related to the fee, you can request a reassessment. It’s also possible that a representative may appeal for a higher fee, especially if they are required to attend multiple interviews, court appeals, and judicial hearings to get you your benefits.
How is a Social Security Disability Attorney Paid for Services?
If SSA agrees to your representative’s contingency fees, they’ll hold up to 25% of past-due benefits in an account. Then, if your disability claim is approved and you qualify for benefits, SSA will send the payment directly to your representative. If there’s any money left over, they’ll mail it to you.
Because most disability lawyers don’t charge you unless you win, most aren’t willing to waive the fee, even if you’re low-income. You may be able to find third-party legal organizations that offer reduced fee agreements, but most charge something. It’s not typically possible to find free lawyers for social security cases.
There are also non-profit legal initiatives set up in many states that may be willing to work with those who need financial help paying for a disability lawyer. Trajector can help you explore your options, ensuring you get the legal representation you need.
Tips for Choosing the Right Social Security Disability Attorney
You want to choose a disability lawyer that properly represents you and your disability. Look for the following when choosing the right disability attorney:
Experience: You want a lawyer or representative with experience specifically filing and appealing disability claims in your state. A disability lawyer’s experience significantly varies, even from a personal injury lawyer.
Length in business: Choosing a disability lawyer who has been in practice for many years can help you more conveniently navigate the application process.
Communication style: Try to choose a disability attorney with a similar communication style as you. For example, some prefer communicating via email, whereas others prefer phone communication.
Success rate: A good success rate shows that the potential representative understands the process of filing and appealing for disability benefits.
Setting up a free consultation with any disability lawyer or representative that you’re considering is a great way to find the right one. During this consultation, you can expect to discuss your case. They may also discuss the process in detail and have you fill out a new client questionnaire. Then, the attorney will decide if they can take your case. Even if they agree to your case, you still have the chance to decide if you want to work with them.
The great thing about choosing a disability attorney is that you don’t necessarily have to worry about over-priced attorney fees. Disability attorneys can’t overcharge you since they have to have all contingency fees approved by SSA, and payment is based on your benefits.