Did you know that the amount a lawyer can charge for a Social Security Disability claim is set by law? It is. Additionally, there is no attorney fee if your claim is ultimately denied. And, any attorney fee you do pay comes out of your past-due benefits.
Under current law, the most a lawyer can charge for a basic Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) claim – which includes the application and administrative appeals – is $6,000. As of November 30, 2022, this will increase to $7,200 for cases decided after that date. Most people will pay less.
- In the vast majority of cases, Social Security Disability law only allows attorneys to charge either 25% of the person’s past-due benefits or $6,000 (or $7,200, as of 11-30-22), whichever is less.
In other words, if you were awarded $10,000 in past-due benefits, your attorney’s fee would be only $2,500 (25% of $10,000).
On the other hand, even if you were awarded $50,000 in past-due benefits, your attorney’s fee could not exceed $6,000 (or $7,200 as of 11-30-22).
In some cases, Social Security Disability attorneys do charge clients for case-related expenses, which is allowed. These expenses include things like the cost of obtaining medical records.
You will sign a fee agreement with your attorney, which will spell out what expenses you may be responsible for. The Social Security Administration (SSA) must approve this fee agreement.
Will I be awarded past-due benefits?
If your SSDI claim is approved, you will almost certainly be awarded past-due benefits. This is because the SSA will calculate your benefits as beginning on the date the agency determined was the onset of your disability. Since time will have passed between your application date and the date your claim was approved, you will almost certainly be owed past-due benefits.
Your past-due benefits will be paid to you in a lump sum, minus your attorney’s fee.
Are there any exceptions to the statutory fee?
Yes. Depending on the situation, your attorney could petition the SSA for an additional fee.
For example, if you hired one Social Security Disability lawyer, then fired that lawyer and hired someone else, each one could petition the SSA for a fee if they each did substantial work on your claim. In most cases, the two attorneys will split the total fee allowed by law, but the SSA could approve more.
In a more common situation, your lawyer can ask for an additional fee if they take your case to an advanced appeal. The 25%/$6,000 ($7,200 as of 11-30-22) fee only covers administrative appeals. If your appeal requires multiple hearings or you need to appeal to the Appeals Council or a federal court, your attorney is generally paid more.
Read your fee agreement carefully
Since you don’t pay a fee unless you win and your fee is taken from your past-due benefits, it is easy to afford a Social Security Disability attorney. And, since the fee is set by law, all Social Security Disability attorneys charge the same fee.
However, you could owe some up-front costs on your claim. And, your fee could be higher if your case requires advanced appeals. Therefore, it is important to make sure you understand what you will be charged.
If you’re completely disabled from working and will be for a year or longer, you could qualify for Social Security Disability. Find out what you can expect by setting up a free consultation with a lawyer.