The television commercials for Social Security law firms claim that you won't need to pay a penny unless the lawyer wins your case, but you may be curious about how these attorneys do get paid. Attorneys don't work for free, but the details of exactly how they are paid are often not revealed in the these advertisements. You should know that the Social Security Administration has strict rules about how these attorneys are compensated. If you are considering hiring an attorney to assist you with your Social Security claim, read on to find out how, and how much, your attorney may be paid.
The Social Security Administration (SSA) has your best interests in mind.
Filing for Social Security can be a time-consuming and frustrating process, with lots of paperwork, rules and deadlines that must be adhered to. It's not surprising that many people get denied on their initial claim.
Once denied, you may be considering hiring an attorney, but cannot afford to do so. The SSA recognizes that people who need legal help for getting their claims through the appeals process are in a vulnerable position, and seldom have the funds to pay an attorney, so they have initiated rules and guidelines for Social Security attorney compensation.
If your attorney evaluates your case and determines that you have a good chance of winning your appeal, you both will reach an agreement and sign a document called a fee agreement. The SSA must approve this agreement before the attorney can begin working for you, and to do so the agreement must follow the SSA guidelines.
The SSA has put in place a maximum fee limit of $6000.00, or no more than 25% of your back pay owed. This is only payable if you win your claim on appeal. For example, if you are owed $5000.00 in back pay, the attorney will get $1250.00. You and your attorney may create a fee agreement that stipulates the attorney gets less than 25%, but never more than that percentage.
The fee agreement is meant to cover charges for your attorney's time, which can quickly add up to a substantial amount and often has to paid upfront under normal circumstances. Make sure that you take a careful and close look at the fee agreement for other miscellaneous charges. You may be responsible for postage and mailing, printing fees, and other fees, which are permitted by the SSA. You should be aware that you must pay these miscellaneous charges even if you end up losing your case.
The SSA has set up a system that allows you to get the legal help you need to get the benefits you deserve. Speak with a Social Security attorney for more about this topic and let a professional handle your appeal.