Social Security Disability Lawyer
How Is A Social Security Lawyer Paid in Abingdon, Virginia?
Social Security Disability Insurance (“SSD”) is a government insurance policy providing income to those with physical or mental conditions that prevent them from working for at least twelve months or which conditions are likely to lead to death. The program is funded from payroll taxes, which are taken from the paychecks of most employees.
SSD benefits are not a government handout. SSD is designed precisely to help individuals who have suddenly become disabled or who can no longer work. If you have become injured or are suffering from a medical condition that prevents you from working, you should not hesitate to secure the benefits to which you are rightfully entitled.
While SSD benefits can be a welcomed safety net for those with a disability, the application process can be challenging. Most initial claims filed without the assistance of an SSD lawyer are denied and must be appealed. Thankfully, approximately 75% of all social security disability appeals are eventually accepted, and disability benefits are awarded.
This begs the question, though, “how can I pay for a disability attorney if I don’t collect benefits for several months?”
Hire An Experienced Abingdon, VA Social Security Disability Attorney Without Paying Any Upfront Costs.
At The Law Offices of Mark T. Hurt, we represent clients seeking SSD benefits on a contingency fee basis, meaning we do not require a retainer, and we are only paid if you obtain benefits. As a result, you can secure experienced SSD representation without having to come out of pocket for any legal fees to get started with your SSD claim.
If benefits are awarded, the Social Security Administration (“SSA”) typically pays our firm 25% of the “backpay” amount or $6,000 (whichever is less), saving you the hassle of calculating fees or cutting checks.
In certain limited situations, an attorney may be entitled to charge more than $6,000, including:
- If a first attorney is terminated and a second lawyer is hired; or
- If benefits are denied at an Administrative Hearing, and an appeal to the Appeals Council or in federal court is required.
The legal fees for social security benefit representation are governed by law. Before charging more than the statutory cap, an SSD attorney must file a petition with the SSA and receive approval.
Because Social Security disability representation can be secured with no money down, you have little to lose and much to gain from calling our office to schedule a free consultation with Abingdon Social Security Disability lawyer Mark Hurt.
What is a Contingency Fee?
With a contingency fee arrangement, our firm is only entitled to a fee if and when your SSD claim is approved and a payment is made. If your claim is ultimately denied, you will not owe us any fee for our services.
Before commencing representation, we provide every client with a representation agreement that sets forth the exact payment terms that will govern their matter. Our fee is also governed by Social Security Administration rules and regulations, including a required fee approval if benefits are awarded.
Does the Contingent Fee Apply to Future Disability Award Payments After the Initial Award Payment?
No. We only receive a payment based upon the initial “backpay” award – the first payment that is made to a successful claimant. Future payments after the initial award are not subject to the contingent fee – you will keep 100% of future payments.
Does It Cost Less to Hire a Social Security Disability Lawyer at the Outset of a Claim Filing?
If we are retained to represent a client soon after a qualifying disability has occurred, the time period for the “backpay” will be relatively short (and thus the backpay amount will be limited). Because our fee is contingent upon the backpay amount, our fee will usually be much less than if we are retained later (such as when a claim is appealed).
Thus on average not only is it beneficial to retain our firm early (rather than after a claim has been denied), the claim approval rate for attorney-assisted claims is much higher than non- attorney-assisted claims (leading to a greater chance of receiving benefits sooner).
What Is Social Security Disability Insurance “Backpay” and How Is It Calculated?
Backpay is the amount of pay to which an individual becomes entitled that accrues between the time they are first eligible for benefits and the date upon which an award is first made.
More specifically, the backpay amount depends on the number of months between when an individual applies for SSD and the date of disability determined by the SSA (known as the “established onset date” or “EOD”). As a result, it will always be beneficial for an applicant to apply for benefits as soon as possible after becoming disabled.
In addition to collecting payments back to the application date, applicants can claim up to twelve months of retroactive payments for the year before the application date. However, to do so, a protective filing date (“PFD”) must be established by making a written state to the SSA specifying an applicant intends on filing for SSD. As an experienced Abingdon Social Security Disability lawyer, Mark Hurt can prepare and file PFD and other disability forms on your behalf.
What Is An SSD Fee Petition?
Social Security disability attorneys are required to submit a document (a “fee petition”) containing a list of the lawyer’s activities to the SSA for approval. The fee petition will be reviewed to ensure that a requested fee is justified in relation to the amount and nature of the representation. Applicants have a right to object to a fee petition if they believe charges are unjustified.
What Do I Need to Prove To Qualify For SSD Benefits in Virginia?
There are two primary requirements to qualify for SSD benefits in Virginia. First, an applicant must have worked enough and earned enough work credits. Most individuals who have worked regularly for ten or more years meet this qualification; however, if they have worked for less than ten years, they may also qualify in certain circumstances.
Second, an applicant must have a severe impairment that prevents the individual from performing any substantial gainful activity, and that can be expected to last for at least twelve months or result in death. As such, partial or temporary disabilities are not classified as disabilities for SSD benefits purposes.
How Do I Know If My Injury or Illness Is Severe Enough To Be A Disability?
The SSA maintains a catalog of diseases and medical conditions that are serious enough to prevent individuals from working, often referred to as the Blue Book. Each Blue Book listing contains a list of symptoms or findings that must be met to substantiate a disability. If an individual has all listed symptoms, the impairment automatically qualifies as a disability. If a condition is unlisted, an examiner must evaluate the applicant to ensure the ailment is as severe as another condition on the list.
Can I Challenge A Denial of Benefits?
Yes. Less than 30% of initial SSD applications are approved, meaning the chance of being denied is not only significant but likely if an experienced SSD lawyer is not used to file the initial claim. Fortunately, the SSA has a four-tier appeal process that reverses well over half of these initial denials.
When an application is denied, the claimant has sixty days to request an appeal at one of the following levels:
- Request for Reconsideration;
- Administrative Law Judge Hearing;
- Appeals Council Review; and
- Federal Appeal.
It can take months or even years to process an application if multiple appeals are required. Fortunately, backpay benefits will accrue while waiting, and a lump sum will be distributed upon approval.
How Much in Social Security Disability Benefits Can I Collect Each Month?
The SSA utilizes a complex, multi-factor formulation to calculate benefits; as such, the amount of benefits awarded is unique for everyone. In 2021, the maximum monthly disability amount is $3,148; however, the average individual receives around $1,277 per month. 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 Do SSD Payments Start?
Generally, disability benefits will begin when an individual has been disabled for at least five full months, and continue thereafter as long as a medical condition has not improved and an individual cannot work, up until the time that the individual reaches retirement age. If a person recovers and resumes work, they may be ineligible to continue receiving benefits.
Does the SSD Statutory Cap Apply to Expenses?
No. During representation, it may be necessary to request medical, school, work, or other records. Clients are responsible for paying these costs separately from attorneys’ fees. Other outside charges may include travel, postage, and copies; however, these expenses are typically minimal.
Schedule A Free Case Evaluation with Experienced Abingdon VA Social Security Disability Attorney Mark Hurt!
Because our fees are only assessed on the backpay amount, it is typically in a claimant’s best interests to reach out to our firm as soon as possible. We invite you to call our office today to schedule your free SSD case evaluation!