How Much are Attorney Fees in Social Security Cases?
How Much Do Social Security Disability Attorneys Charge in California?
If you are disabled, and unable to work, we understand that every penny counts. That is why our experienced Social Security lawyers want you to understand – up front – exactly what attorney fees apply in any Social Security Disability case.
Social Security Attorneys Only Collect if You Win – Los Angeles
To begin with, the good news is that Social Security Disability work on a “contingency” Basis. This means that your attorney will only get paid if you win your case.
Additionally, unlike many other types of attorneys, Social Security Disability attorneys do not charge any up-front fees (called a retainer).
If you encounter an attorney who asks you to “pay up front,” or to pay an “hourly rate” instead of a percentage, or to pay even if you lose – DO NOT hire that attorney.
Additionally, when you hire your Social Security Disability attorney (whether you are filing for SSDI or SSI), you should be asked to sign a fee agreement. This is for YOUR protection – to make sure that your attorney receives only the fee that he or she is entitled to under the law.
The Social Security Administration will review the fee agreement to make sure it meets the fee agreement guidelines. The fee agreement will also allow the Social Security Administration to pay your attorney at the time your claim is approved.
How Much Can a Social Security Disability Attorney Charge?
More good news is that the law limits what a Social Security Disability lawyer can charge his or her clients. The attorneys fee is limited to:
- 25% of the past-due benefits you are awarded,
- up to a maximum of $6,000.
This means that the attorney will be paid ONLY a percentage of your PAST DUE benefits. These past due benefits are also called “backpay” or “back dated benefits. If no backpay benefits are awarded, the attorney does not receive a fee. (Note there are a few limited exceptions where an attorney can submit a fee petition to Social Security to ask for a higher fee.)
Once you win your case, the Social Security Administration SSA takes the attorneys’ fees from your first disability check – which will be your backpay check.
There are NO attorney fees on any of the Social Security Disability money you will receive going forward. In other words all future Social Security Disability payments will be made to you in full – with no other or additional attorney fees.
How is Social Security Disability Backpay Calculated?
For SSDI, your backpay will be benefits from the date you were approved back to the date the SSA determines your disability began – up to a maximum of 12 months back from the date of your application).
For SSI, your benefits are calculated from the date you are approved, back to the month after you applied for benefits.
Out-of-Pocket Costs in Social Security Disability Cases
During the course of representing a disabled client, the attorney usually has to request and pay for medical records, work records, copying, postage, and even medical or psychological examinations. These expenses which an attorney ends up paying for are called “out of pocket” expenses.
The client is responsible to pay for these “out of pocket” costs in addition to the attorney’s fee of 25% of their backpay. In most cases these “out of pocket” costs are no more than one or two hundred dollars per case.
Some attorneys will ask for money in advance to pay for these “out of pocket” costs. While this is permitted under the law – we cover these costs for our clients until they receive their award. Once the case has closed, we will send you an itemized bill so you can reimburse us for these expenses of your case that we have covered for you.
An Experienced Social Security Attorney Costs the Same as an Advocate! Los Angeles
Finally, keep in mind that attorney fees are set by the law in Social Security Disability cases. So whether you hire an “advocate” (non-attorney representative), or an inexperienced lawyer, or highly experienced attorneys like us – it will always cost you the same amount! So never settle for a non-attorney or an inexperienced attorney – when you can get the best representation available for the same price!