How Much Does It Cost for a Lawyer to Represent Me During a Disability Appeal?
In general, you can expect to pay your disability attorney 25 percent of your back pay. In most cases, the SSA will send you 75 percent of your back pay and forward the 25-percent fee to your lawyer.
There is an exception to this 25-percent limit. In the event you fight several years to get the approval you deserve, your back pay could reach tens of thousands of dollars. Because this could cost you a significant sum, the SSA generally has a $6,000 cap on legal fees except in special circumstances that require the attorney to submit a fee petition and ask for permission to charge more.
When Do I Have to Pay My Lawyer’s Fees?
No lawyer should ask you for fees up front. Disability attorneys generally provide representation on a contingency fee basis. This means you pay nothing until your attorney gets your disability benefits approved. Your lawyer can only collect a portion of your unpaid back pay. If an administrative law judge or an appellate court overturns your denial, but does not grant you back pay, your lawyer will not receive payment.
The only fees this rule does not cover are any costs above and beyond the usual expense associated with an appeal. When you review the fee agreement, it should outline the types of expenses that may not fall under the general fee.
How Does the SSA Determine Back Pay?
When you finally win your appeal and the SSA awards you the disability benefits you deserve, it will determine the exact date you first qualified for benefits based on your medical condition. In other words, the SSA decides the date you became disabled and unable to work.
In some cases, this may be the date you stopped working. It could be the date of an accident or the date you received a serious diagnosis. It may even be the date you underwent a specific test or imaging scan.
This date is important because it determines how much back pay you receive. You will receive money to cover the months between the date you first qualified and the date you received approval, minus the five-month waiting period for SSDI recipients. The SSA bases your attorney’s fees on this total. Your attorney receives their portion and you receive the rest. For SSDI, this is usually a lump-sum payment. SSI beneficiaries receive their back pay in a series of smaller payments.
How Can I Talk to a Disability Lawyer Today?
The disability attorneys from Berger and Green know what it takes to get you the disability benefits you deserve. We offer our services on a contingency fee basis and will be glad to discuss our fee agreement with you during our free initial consultation. Call us today at 412-661-1400 to get started.