How Much Does an SSDI Lawyer Cost?
If you’re looking into filing a social security disability claim with representation, the first question you might ask yourself is ‘How much does a SSDI lawyer cost?’ It’s a good question, especially since legal expenses can add up when it comes to disability cases, with multiple hearings, appeals, and maybe even going all the way to federal court.
In order to help you figure out what to expect, here’s everything you need to know about attorney costs when it comes to social security disability insurance law.
It’s natural to be worried about whether you’re able to afford an attorney, but the good news is that when it comes to disability lawyers, they work on a contingency fee basis, which means they are only paid if you get the benefits (so you only pay them if you get the services you need). You’ll sign a contingency fee agreement when you first hire an attorney, of which there are no upfront costs.
But if you do get the disability benefits you need, how much will that cost you?
According to federal law, there are limits to what clients will pay SSDI attorneys. The rule is that social security disability attorneys either take 25% of your backpay or $6,000 (whichever is lower). What is backpay, you might ask? Backpay is the benefits that accumulated while you were waiting for approval for your social security claim.
Additionally, your backpay amount depends on:
- The onset disability date
- The date when you filed for the benefits
- SSDI application versus SSI application
One of the things that the Social Security Administration does as a convenience is that they withhold 25% of your benefits that are past-due and apply this money to your attorney’s fees. This avoids the trouble of having to go through the process of arranging payment for your attorneys and also streamlines the process so that the attorneys don’t have to invoice you and then wait for payment.
While the limit for the benefits cost is $6,000, typically clients pay much lower costs. Sometimes attorneys may not even charge clients a contingency fee unless the case is successful (the contingency fee arrangement is something required by Social Security law).
Can a disability lawyer charge more?
When it comes to social security law, there are some exceptions when it comes to costs above the $6,000 cap. There are two situations where an attorney can charge more:
- You severed ties with your first attorney and sought new counsel
- You are denied benefits, which forces your attorney to file an appeal.
Another situation that might involve higher attorney fees is where a client has paid the fee to the first attorney and then hired a second new attorney. The second, current attorney can file a petition to split the original attorney fee between the two of them and sometimes the petition may involve higher charges depending on the work that has already been completed.
Either way, remember that in order for an attorney to charge a higher fee, they must file a fee petition to Social Security, which then must be approved before the lawyer can charge you the higher cost.
Sometimes, your attorney may have out-of-pocket expenses that you will be responsible for. These costs usually come from your attorney having to obtain medical records or seeking opinions from physicians or medical professionals. In addition, other expenses you may be responsible for would be mailing, travel, copies of the documents, or other administration costs.
What to Remember When it Comes to Disability Attorney Fees
We hope this gives you peace of mind when it comes to hiring an attorney for your disability claim. Remember, that it doesn’t matter if you feel like you can’t afford an attorney, because you probably can, with the system that’s built into place to help disability claimants. Just make sure you read the contingency agreement that you sign with your SSDI attorney, so that you know exactly what it covers and there are no surprises coming your way. In most cases where someone gets their benefit claims, the attorney expenses on average are a few hundred dollars.
If you think you might want to hire a disability lawyer to help you receive Social Security Disability Insurance benefits, contact Lowery Law Group at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (843) 991-0733. There is no fee for a free consultation regarding your claim. Lowery Law Group is experienced in handling ssdi cases in South Carolina as well as Georgia.