In the vast majority of cases, the payment of an attorney fee in a social security disability case is very straightforward, as all attorneys handling social security disability cases charge the same amount for their services.
That’s because federal law dictates exactly how fees are to be paid in social security disability cases.
Know the Basic Fees on Security Disability Cases
- Normally, you are not required to pay any money “up front” to hire a disability attorney.
- The attorney fee in a social security disability case is calculated on a “contingency basis”. That means the payment of any attorney fee is “contingent” on the disability attorney winning your case.
- If your disability case is denied, no attorney fee is paid.
- In the event of a favorable award of social security disability benefits, the attorney fee is limited to 25% of any “past-due” benefits. For instance, if your past due benefits equal $12,000 then the attorney fee equals $3,000 ($12,000 x 25% = $3,000).
- The total attorney fee is limited to a maximum of $6,000, regardless of the amount of past due benefits. For example, if your past due benefits equal $40,000, the attorney fee does not equal 25% of $40,000 ($10,000); rather, the attorney fee is capped at $6,000.
- In some cases, a disability claim is approved for ongoing benefits, but there are no past due benefits awarded. In cases of this nature the Social Security Administration (SSA) will not withhold any money for attorneys fees. Although, the law provides that the disability attorney can still request an attorney fee in this type of situation (by filing what is known as a “fee petition”) at RBR&S we do not do so. At RBR&S, if there is no award of past due disability benefits we do not ask for an attorney fee.
- A disability attorney is required to obtain a fee agreement from their client in order to receive any type of attorney fee in a social security disability claim.
- In the event of an award of social security disability benefits, SSA must approve the fee agreement, and the amount of the fee, before an attorney fee can be paid.
- SSA will typically oversee the payment of any attorney fee in a social security disability case. SSA will withhold the attorney fee from any past due benefits and forward the fee directly to the attorney, once SSA has approved the fee.
- Most fee agreements allow for an additional attorney fee if the case must be appealed to the federal court level (but most cases do not reach this level of appeal). If the attorney requests an additional fee for federal court work that fee must be also approved before it is paid.
- In addition to attorney fees, the disability attorney is also allowed to seek reimbursement for any “file expenses” incurred while representing the social security disability client. At some law firms, file expenses include charges for in-house photocopies, postage, and even local mileage. At RBR&S the only file expense we will ever ask our clients to pay involves the costs we incurred from medical providers in order to obtain our client’s medical records.
Again, federal law provides that all attorneys handling social security disability claims follow the same rules for charging attorney fees. This means your maximum attorney fee will theoretically be the same whether you hire an attorney with decades of experience in handling social security disability cases or a lawyer who has handled little to no disability cases in the past.
Contact The Attorneys At Ryan Bisher Ryan & Simons For A Free Consultation
So why risk hiring an attorney with little to no experience? Think of it this way, if you were having brain surgery and you had to choose between two doctors who charged the same fee, would you feel better hiring the surgeon who had successfully performed the procedure on thousands of prior occasions or the doctor who had little to no experience in the operating room.
At Ryan Bisher Ryan & Simons our disability clients are represented from beginning to end by senior partner, Philip D. Ryan; an attorney with decades of experience handling disability cases. Phil has handled thousands of disability hearings, including cases in Oklahoma, Texas, Kansas, Colorado, Louisiana, and Alabama. Phil is also the two-time chairman of the disability law section of the Oklahoma Bar Association (OBA) and a frequent speaker at OBA disability law seminars. Make sure you get what you pay for in a social security disability attorney. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation about the disability benefits you deserve under federal Social Security law.