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how much does a disability lawyer cost

How Much Does a Disability Lawyer Cost?

May 20, 2020

If you have recently become disabled, you know how quickly life can change. Suddenly, you may be suffering from chronic pain, undergoing extensive medical treatment or adjusting to new medications. In addition, if you are unable to work, your family could be hurting financially. You may be thinking of hiring a disability lawyer to help you apply for Social Security benefits or file an appeal. However, you don’t have extra money for the disability lawyer cost. Fortunately, you can get the legal help you need without spending money up front. Here’s what you need to know.

Are there free disability lawyers?

While Social Security disability lawyers do not work for free, they do work on a contingency basis. This means, like other personal injury attorneys, they collect their fee after a case is won. This is true regardless of how long it takes to resolve your case. Disability lawyers typically do not ask their clients to pay up-front fees or retainers.

Personal injury lawyers collect a percentage (usually one-third) of the verdict or settlement they win on behalf of the client. Disability lawyers receive their payment from the client’s past-due benefits, or backpay.

How does a Social Security disability lawyer get paid?

In order to get paid, Social Security disability lawyers ask their clients to sign written fee agreements spelling out the payment terms. The lawyer then submits the fee agreement to the Social Security Administration (SSA) for approval.

According to Social Security law, an attorney cannot received more than $6,000, or 25% of your backpay, whichever is less. However, there are certain limited circumstances where a lawyer can request a higher fee by filing a petition with the Social Security Administration. A lawyer’s request may be granted in cases that require multiple hearings or those that proceed to federal court. However, the SSA carefully reviews these petitions and will only approve requests it considers reasonable. 

Do disability lawyers charge for out-of-pocket costs?

When understanding your disability lawyer cost, it is important to note possible out-of-pocket fees. Most lawyers charge separately for the cost of obtaining medical or employment records, as well as copying and postage expenses. Additionally, a lawyer will charge for arranging any medical or psychological examinations that become necessary. While some attorneys ask their clients to pay these costs up front, others deduct them from the clients’ backpay after the case is won. This is something clients should ask about during their initial consultation with a prospective attorney.

What happens if I lose my case?

Your disability lawyer cost will be $0 unless they win your case. Therefore, if they are unable to obtain Social Security benefits for a client, there is no fee. Nonetheless, some lawyers may still charge for out-of-pocket costs such as obtaining or copying documents or medical records. Before you make a final decision, ask the lawyer about their policy for cases that are unsuccessful.

Does a Social Security Disability lawyer cost more than a non-lawyer representative?

Everyone has the right to use a representative to help with Social Security applications or appeals. Individuals may choose a disability attorney or a non-lawyer representative to provide this assistance.

Some people hesitate to hire a lawyer because they assume it will be more expensive. In fact, Social Security disability attorneys follow the same fee schedule as non-lawyer representatives. The SSA caps fees for both at $6,000 or 25% of the client’s backpay, whichever is less.

Here are some reasons why you will have a better outcome when you hire an experienced disability lawyer:

  • In addition to completing law school and passing a rigorous state bar examinations, an attorney must meet more stringent requirements than a non-lawyer representative.
  • Clients who are represented by lawyers are protected by attorney-client privilege.
  • A disability lawyer has the education and experience to anticipate and resolve legal issues that could impede your case.
  • If your claim proceeds to the federal district court level, you will need an attorney to represent you.
  • Statistics show that clients who hire attorneys to handle their appeals are more successful than those who attend hearings without legal representation.

Social Security law is complicated, but finding the right lawyer is simple.

Call 1-800-CALL-SAM today for a free, no-obligation remote consultation from the safety of your home.

Check out our recent blog post about finding the right disability attorney if you still have questions, and see our Michigan social security disability lawyer page to learn more about how we can help you through the process.