How Is A Social Security Disability Lawyer Paid? | Abingdon, VA
If an individual is unable to work for at least one year due to a debilitating injury or illness, he or she may be entitled to collect Social Security Disability (“SSD”) benefits. However, over 70% of those who apply are denied benefits, even after paying into the Social Security system for years and having a qualifying disability. Fortunately, many disabled workers who are denied benefits initially may later be approved through an appeal; however, it can take months (or even years) of waiting before this happens.
You may be thinking, “how can I afford an attorney if I can’t work and am not collecting disability benefits?” At The Law Offices of Mark T. Hurt, we represent SSD clients on a contingency fee basis. We don’t require a retainer or up-front payment, and we only are paid if you obtain benefits. Thus, you can secure our representation without having to come out-of-pocket for any fees while your matter is ongoing.
Call our Office to Schedule a Free Consultation! We Only Get Paid if You Obtain Benefits.
Increase Your Chances of Getting Your Claim Approved at the Initial Application Stage!
To increase the chances of securing a favorable determination as quickly as possible, it is advisable to hire an experienced Abingdon Social Security Disability lawyer to assist throughout the process. Statistically, those who retain an experienced social security disability attorney to assist in the initial application have their claims approved more than three times the rate as those who file an application on their own. Because the appeals process can be lengthy, it’s often highly beneficial to get experienced legal counsel at the outset and to minimize the chance that an appeal will be required.
How Much Does a Social Security Disability Attorney Charge?
Federal law generally limits the fees that a lawyer can charge disabled clients for representation in a social security disability benefits matter to 25% of the backpay amount, with a maximum fee of $6,000. When we represent clients, the SSA usually withholds one-quarter of the past-due benefits and pays our firm directly for this amount (the other 75% is then paid directly to the disabled person). This arrangement is beneficial, as it saves clients from having to hassle with making payment arrangements.
In certain limited situations, an attorney may be entitled to charge more than $6,000, including:
- If a first attorney is fired and a second lawyer is hired; or
- If benefits are denied at an administrative hearing, and an appeal to the Appeals Council or federal court is needed.
Before charging more than the statutory cap, a lawyer must file a fee petition with the SSA and receive approval.
What is an SSD Fee Petition?
A fee petition is a document containing a list of an attorney’s activities that must be submitted to the SSA for approval. The SSA will review the petition to ensure that a requested fee is justified in relation to the nature and amount of work. Clients have a right to comment or object to a fee petition if they feel charges are excessive or unjustified.
What is Back Pay and How Is It Calculated?
When SSD benefits are approved, the SSA will calculate how much back pay is owed. Backpay is essentially the amount of the first payment that an individual would receive when benefits are first awarded for the disability income that is payable at that time.
If we are hired for the initial application shortly after an individual becomes disabled, the backpay amount is usually not large, since it typically will be based upon on a limited number of months. (Typically, back pay will be paid from the time an application is approved back to the date the SSA deems a disability began.) Alternatively, if we are not retained until an appeal is necessary, the backpay amount will be larger, since additional “backpay” income may be due.
What are the Levels of a Social Security Benefits Appeal?
When an application is denied, claimants can appeal the determination at the following four levels:
- Hearing by an administrative law judge;
- Review by the Appeals Council; and
- Federal Court review.
Most social security disability appeals are resolved either through Reconsideration or in a hearing by an administrative law judge.
Depending on the level of appeal needed, it can take months or sometimes years for an application to be approved. Fortunately, during this time, past-due benefits will accrue; once a favorable determination is rendered, a lump sum payment (the “backpay”) will be issued for all unpaid benefits starting from the time the disability occurred.
Does the SSD Cap Apply to Expenses?
No. During representation, disability lawyers typically must request medical, school, work, or other records. These costs are not included in our fee, as the statutory cap does not apply to these types of out-of-pocket expenses. Thus, clients are responsible for paying these costs separately from attorneys’ fees. Other outside charges may include travel, postage, and copies. Typically, these expenses are minimal.
What is a Contingency Fee?
Unlike attorneys who collect exorbitant retainers and charge by the hour, we work on a contingency fee basis and do not require retainer prior to commencing representation. With a contingency fee arrangement, we are only entitled to a fee if and when you receive SSD benefits. If your claim is ultimately denied, you will not owe us any fee for our time and effort.
We provide every client with a contingency fee agreement that sets forth the exact payment terms that will govern their matter. Additionally, we submit the agreements to the Social Security Administration (“SSA”) for review and approval to ensure that all terms are equitable and fair.
If you hire The Law Offices of Mark T. Hurt, we will be happy to answer any questions regarding our representation to ensure that you have a full understanding of all terms and fees before commencing representation.
How Much Does Social Security Disability Pay Each Month?
The SSA utilizes a complicated, multi-factor formulation to calculate benefits; as such, the amount of benefits awarded is unique for everyone. While the exact monthly amount may differ from person-to-person, the maximum benefit amount is set yearly. For example, in 2020, the maximum allowed monthly benefit is $3,011. If you would like to know how much you may be entitled to collect, we can help assess your work history and estimate your potential payments.
When Will SSD Payments Start?
Under the law, payments will not begin until an individual has been disabled for at least five full months. Thus, the earliest benefits will be disbursed is on the sixth month of disability. Once benefits are approved, the SSA will provide a notification that explains how much disability benefits will be, and when payments will begin.
How Long Can I Collect Social Security Disability in Virginia?
Generally, disability benefits will continue as long as a medical condition has not improved, and an individual cannot work, up until the time that the individual reaches retirement age. However, benefits are not guaranteed indefinitely. If a person recovers and can resume work, they may be ineligible to continue receiving payments. The SSA periodically reviews cases to ensure that claimants still have qualifying disabilities.
Retain an Abingdon, VA Social Security Disability Attorney at No Up-Front Cost!
Because our fees are based on the backpay amount, it is in your financial interest to reach out to us as soon as possible. The sooner we can secure approval, the less your fee will be. Call our office today to schedule a complimentary consultation. We would look forward to assisting you in getting the full benefits that you deserve!
 Fact Sheet, SSA.
 What You Need to Know When You Get Social Security Disability Benefits, SSA.