Winter Fox

Will your Social Security disability lawyer rip you off?

One of the hardest parts about getting help on a Social Security case is finding the right person to work with.

What if i hire a lawyer and they don’t do anything?

What if I am not happy with the lawyer?

I don’t want to be stuck with a big bill.

Fortunately, Social Security takes a lot of the worry out of hiring a lawyer:

You only pay if you win.

Most attorneys who specialize* in Social Security disability cases work on a contingency fee basis.  You only pay attorney fees if you win.  If you do not win, you do not have to pay attorney fees. The exception to this is in cases where there are no back benefits for the attorney to take fees out of, for example, overpayment cases.  In those cases, the attorney petitions Social Security at the end of the case to approve fees for the attorney’s services.  Social Security, not the attorney, decides what you have to pay.

Social Security puts a maximum cap on what you have to pay if you win.

Social Security caps the percentage an attorney can charge and the total maximum an attorney can receive for fees. An attorney can charge no more than 25% of the back benefits in the case, up to a maximum of $6,000. You can read more about attorneys fees in Social Security cases here.

Social Security has to approve any fees an attorney charges you.

Not only does Social Security regulate the percentage and maximum fee an attorney can charge, you do not owe any fees until and unless Social Security approves the attorney’s fees. Not only does the attorney have to win your case, Social Security has to approve the amount your attorney will be paid.

The only way an attorney gets paid is by getting results for you.

Because of the regulations Social Security has in place, the only way attorneys can get paid is by winning. There is no padding hours, no extra jobs to be done, no “rust coating on the undercarriage”  The attorney only gets paid if you win.

This gives Social Security disability attorneys a LOT of incentive to work to get the best result for you!

*Disclaimer: Colorado does not certify lawyers as “specialists” in any field.

  • Swart7355

    Hired an attorney for social security disability benefits, and this firm did nothing to help me.  They got $1750.50 on my award and all they did was send me blank forms to sign to earn this money.  BEWARE!  Attorneys will stretch out the claim filing because the longer it takes, the more money they get.  I never talked to my attorney or even seen her, except on a billboard.  I started dealing with SSA on my own accord, and would send a copy to the attorney.  I was advised by the firm that I should not do this.  Well, because I did do this, I was awarded my disability…no thanks to them.  

    • TomaszStasiuk

      Sorry about the bad experience with your lawyer. As I wrote about here: lawyers should work for their money. And most of them do. Sadly, it seems that bigger firm you go with, the more likely it is that you will be ignored. 

    • haydn
      • TomaszStasiuk

        There is a more direct option. Fee agreement approval and payment are not automatic. Both the hearing decision and the notice of award provides options for disputing fee agreements / fee amounts.

        Frankly, I have a hard time believing Social Security would ever approve fees for a rep who failed to appear at a hearing requiring the claimant to proceed without representation. I don’t know a single judge who would not take that as an affront and deny the fee agreement for that. And if the judge denies the fee agreement, fees don’t get paid.

        Note: this is different from having a scheduling conflict and requesting a postponement/ rescheduling of the hearing.

  • haydn

    Thanks for the reply Tomasz Stasiuk, The hearing judge did take the absence of the non-attorney representative as an affront. She called him on his cell phone on the spot and asked for an explanation for his absence. The representative told her that he realized he had a scheduling conflict the night before and had faxed something over to the office at that time. She asked for details of this scheduling conflict, then she checked the case logs and found he was not listed to be in any other hearing room that day. She signed the decision to not pay the fee right then and there. We received notification to that effect. Several months later, while still waiting for some of the back pay to be disbursed, we received 2 letters at the same time. One letter told us the rep had filed with some judge out of state to have the original judges order reversed, which some unknown person, acting for that judge granted. The other letter informed us the fee had been paid. We have filed a dispute with SSA but the 15 day deadline to file the dispute had passed before we even received the letter.

    • TomaszStasiuk

      Ok. Wow! Thank you for providing that additional information.