How Do Social Security Disability Lawyers Get Paid?
Social Security Disability attorneys are paid on a contingency-fee-basis, meaning that no legal fee is due unless compensation is secured on a claimant’s behalf.
Further, if a social security disability (SSD) claim is approved, the SSD attorney is only entitled to a portion of the retroactive benefit amount (i.e., past-due benefits), meaning that an injured worker does not ever have to pay a fee on future benefit payments.
Applying for Social Security Disability Insurance benefits (SSD) can be challenging, especially for individuals who attempt to self-file for benefits without the assistance of an experienced Social Security Disability lawyer. However, many claimants who need assistance filing for disability benefits, appealing a denial, or preparing for a disability hearing are reluctant to reach out to an attorney out of fear of incurring significant legal expenses.
Because SSD lawyers represent clients on a contingency-fee-basis, though, individuals generally have much to gain from consulting with a Virginia Social Security attorney without having to worry about coming out of pocket for upfront legal fees. We encourage you to read through the following article to learn more about how SSD attorneys are compensated.
If you need assistance applying for SSD benefits, we invite you to call our offices today to schedule a free consultation with Virginia SSD lawyer Mark Hurt.
How Are SSD Attorneys Paid in Virginia?
Social Security Disability lawyers are paid on a contingency-fee-basis in Virginia, meaning that an attorney is only entitled to a fee if he or she obtains disability compensation for a client. If successful, and except as noted below, an SSD lawyer generally is entitled to 25% of the past-due benefits amount or $7,200 (whichever is less). However, if a claimant is denied benefits, the SSD lawyer will not be entitled to collect any legal fee, even if significant time and effort are expended on a matter.
Do I Have to Pay a Social Security Disability Lawyer Directly?
In most cases, the Social Security Administration (SSA) pays SSD attorneys, after benefit claims are awarded. This means that the process is typically hands-off for a claimant, as the SSA typically automatically deducts an attorney’s contingency fee directly from the retroactive SSD benefits before paying a claimant.
In rare circumstances, the SSA may mistakenly send an entire benefit amount to an individual, including the portion that should have been withheld for the disability attorney. If this occurs, the claimant will be required to pay the lawyer directly.
How Much Does a Disability Attorney Get Paid in Attorney’s Fees?
Federal law limits attorneys’ fees in SSD cases. Generally, the maximum amount that can be collected in an SSD matter is:
- 25% of any backpay benefits awarded; or
- Up to $7,200 (whichever is less).
Before accepting any SSD case, clients are provided with an SSD fee agreement outlining the terms of the contingency-fee representation. The SSA must then approve the fee arrangements, and the agreement cannot contain any provisions that run counter to the maximums stated above. For example, an agreement that provides for a minimum fee, regardless of the outcome of an SSD case, would be invalid.
Can SSD Attorney’s Fees Exceed the Maximums Set by the SSA?
While $7,200 is typically the maximum amount that can be paid in attorney’s fees for handling a disability claim, if a claim requires a higher level of appeal before an appeals council or in federal court, a Social Security disability lawyer may be entitled to petition the SSA for a larger fee.
Even if an attorney petition for a higher fee, it still must be preapproved by the SSA. When deciding whether to grant a fee petition, the SSA carefully considers:
- The complexity of the matter;
- The extent of the services provided;
- The attorney’s experience, skill, and competence;
- The claim results;
- The level of appeal needed to obtain a claim approval; and
- The amount being requested in a petition.
Does The SSD Contingency Fee Cover All Expenses?
The SSD contingency fee covers all legal fees for the work performed on a case; however, there may be a nominal fee (typically, a couple of hundred dollars) for any expenses incurred in the handling of a claim, such as:
- Fees charged by physician’s offices for medical records
- Copies of vital documents
- Long-distance telephone charges
The scope of these expenses will be detailed in the fee agreement before the commencement of the representation.
Schedule A Free Consultation With An Experienced Social Security Disability Attorney
At The Law Offices of Mark T. Hurt, we tenaciously pursue maximum compensation in Social Security disability matters. If you would like to file an initial SSD claim or appeal a denial, we invite you to call our office to schedule a free consultation with experienced Virginia SSD attorney Mark Hurt.