How Your SSI Lawyer Gets Paid

Hiring an experienced attorney to handle your SSI disability claim case is a smart move, if you don’t have the time or desire to weed through the intricacies of disability law. The claims process is complex, and should your claim be denied, a lawyer can often help you win your case on appeal. Attorneys don’t work for free, and there are strict guidelines put in place that govern how SSI lawyers are paid.

General Fee Agreement

The fees paid to Social Security disability lawyers is set by federal law, and all legal representatives are required to accept the government’s fee terms before presenting a case before the court. The standard fee structure is 25-percent of back pay, or lawyers receive up to $6,000. Since the amount of back pay awarded to clients varies per case, the exact payment to your lawyer won’t be known until the judge issues a settlement figure. The lawyer you hire is capped at $6,000, which covers most associated expenses tied to litigating your case.

Getting Paid for Wins

One thing you won’t have to worry about when seeking a good lawyer for your case is paying large sums of money out of your own pocket. Disability lawyers must take on your case with the full knowledge that they only receive payment if they win your case. Regardless of how long your case takes to litigate, you pay nothing for this representation, unless your claim is approved on appeal. When the settlement money comes in your lawyer takes his fees out of the back pay awarded to you.

Exceptions to Fee Caps

In rare instances, a lawyer can seek a larger fee over the $6,000 cap, based on certain events. If you fire your lawyer and hire another lawyer who goes on to win the case, your first attorney has the legal right to file a petition to receive a share of the legal fees. This may also happen if your claim is unsuccessful at the disability hearing. Your lawyer can continue to appeal at a federal court, or to the Appeals Council.

Both of these scenarios require lawyers to file a formal fee petition with the Social Security Administration. The agency decides whether to grant or deny such petitions.

Expense Agreements

An expense agreement covers certain out-of-pocket expenses that lawyers commonly pay upfront, including fees associated with obtaining medical records and doctor statements. You should discuss these fees with your lawyer, before signing a contract.