What is the cost to hire a lawyer to help with social security disability?

Cost to hire a lawyer

What is the cost to hire a Social Security Disability Lawyer?

An individual trying to get social security disability may want to consider hiring an attorney to help navigate through the complex and sometimes confusing process of receiving social security disability.  The social security administration has developed rules and regulations that control how much an attorney can charge a client seeking disability. These rules cover both supplemental security income for adults and children (SSI) and social security disability (SSDI). This includes widows seeking disability under their deceased spouse’s social security contributions.

First, an attorney can only obtain a fee if the individual is approved for disability. If the person is denied, the attorney receives nothing (zero dollars). However, some attorneys do charge their clients for obtaining medical records on their behalf. Before signing a retainer/fee agreement, the individual should ask the attorney who is responsible for this cost. Many attorneys will obtain records free of charge.

Second, the attorney has a cap or limit on how much they receive if the individual wins.  The most an attorney can charge is $6000 and no more. This could change, but as of March 2020 that is the limit.  It can only be raised by the Social Security Administration.

Third, the attorney could receive less than $6000. The fee is based on 25% of the backpay the client will receive, including backpay for auxiliary benefits (children of the disabled parent for SSDI cases only). Backpay is determined by the filing date or the alleged onset date. This is the date the applicant states they can no longer work due to their medical condition. If that amount is less than $6000, that is what the attorney will receive. For example, the backpay equals $5000. The attorney will be paid $1250, which is 25% of $5,000. In this situation, the attorney will not be paid $6000. Another example, the individual’s backpay is $30,000.  25% of $30,000 is $7,500. The attorney in this situation will be paid $6,000 because that is the limit on what they can charge. They will not receive the 25%.

For supplemental security income (SSI), backpay can only go back to the filing date regardless of the onset date.

For social security disability benefits (SSDI), it is a little more confusing. The furthest the backpay can go back is one year before the filing date. The Administration will consider the onset date in making the determination for backpay. The person must be disabled for five (5) full months before the backpay goes into effect.  This may be less than a year from the filing date or even after the filing date.

Remember, an attorney only charges their client if the client is found disabled.  And two, the most an attorney can receive is $6000 of the backpay. An attorney will never charge for the ongoing monthly benefit, only backpay.