A “fee petition” is a way your lawyer asks Social Security for fees for his services.
I though attorneys were paid a percentage of what I get?
Percentage-based contingency fee agreements are the most common way attorneys get paid in Slocial Security cases. However there are two ways an attorney might get paid.
Fee agreements based on a percentage of back benefits:
If you win, the attorney gets 25% of your back benefits up to a $6,000 cap (this is an increase from the $5,300 cap in effect before June 2009). The 25% or $6,000 is a standard fee agreement that Social Security will almost always approve if the case is won and results in back benefits.
Fee agreements based on a fee petition:
This is the wild west of fee agreements. Your attorney has to itemize his time and ask Social Security to be paid a certain amount. Social Security will approve whatever it sees fit, which may be more or less than $6,000.
When are fee petitions used?
Typically, fee petitions are required when the attorney works on an overpayment case. However, they are also necessary you hired two attorneys and the first attorney has not withdrawn or has not waived fees. This often comes up when a person has moved and had to hire a new attorney.
Fee petitions are also used if a person disagrees with Social Security approving the standard 25% fee agreement. If that happens, the attorney must petition Social Security to have his or her fees approved.