Overview of Disability
Disability Back Pay
Requirements for Disability
Applications for disability
Tips and Advice for Disability Claims
How long does Disability take?
Winning Disability Benefits
Common Mistakes after a Denial
Mental Disability Benefits
Denials for Disability
Appeals for denied claims
Disability Benefits from SSA
Child Disability Benefits
Qualifications and How to Qualify
Working and Disability
Disability Awards and Notices
Disability Lawyers, Hiring Attorneys
Social Security List of Conditions
What Social Security considers disabling
Medical Evidence and Disability
Filing for Disability Benefits
Eligibility for Disability Benefits
SSD SSI Definitions
SSDRC authored by Tim Moore
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Social Security Disability Lawyers - Fees and Representation Information
While individuals filing for disability benefits with the Social Security Administration do not have to hire a disability lawyer at any level of the disability process, they should consider obtaining the services of a competent Social Security disability lawyer or disability representative if they are filing a request for an administrative law judge hearing--or sooner if their own personal situation warrants it.
What do I mean when I say personal situations that “warrant” the services of a disability lawyer? If you have a mental condition that limits your ability to remember, read, or complete tasks timely (memory loss and depression are often involved in such situations) or a physical condition that prevents you from writing (such as arthritis or the residual effects of stroke), or perhaps a severe vision problem that prevents you handling your appeal online or on paper, you should consider getting help if your disability claim is denied.
Social Security has a sixty day appeal period plus five extra days mailing time from the date of your denial notice. If you do not return your completed appeal either online, by mail, or in person at your local Social Security office within that time frame, your appeal might be denied requiring you to begin the disability process again.
This is especially true for your disability hearing appeal request. Administrative law judges routinely deny request for hearing appeals if they are late.
Note: To elaborate on this, if your request for a hearing is sent in late, but you are granted good cause (i.e. an excuse for being late on the submission of the appeal) by the social security office that received the hearing request, it may still be ruled as a late appeal by the administrative law judge that receives your case many months later. So...just because the social security office accepts a late appeal does not mean that a disability judge will do the same.
Another reason to obtain the services of a disability lawyer for your disability hearing is that they know how to present your disability claim to an administrative law judge. Administrative law judges use vocational and medical guidelines to make their disability decisions, and it is unlikely that an applicant will know the rules or guidelines.
An experienced disability law practitioner will, however, be familiar with the vocational and medical guidelines used by SSA, as well as how claims are decided through the sequential evaluation process that is employed by both disability examiners and ALJs (administrative law judges).
If you decide to hire a disability lawyer make sure that you chose someone you feel comfortable with. Social Security requires you to sign a form selecting a disability lawyer as your representative. Your representative will have you sign the representation form (form SSA 1696) and a fee agreement when they take your disability case. You should read your fee agreement carefully before signing.
Social Security allows a fee for representation to be paid only if your disability claim is won and there are past disability benefits due (back pay). Social Security currently limits a disability lawyer’s fee to $6000 or twenty five percent of any past due benefits, whichever is less.
However, Social Security does allow a disability lawyer to charge for incidental fees at a rate agreed upon in the fee agreement and these may be payable whether your disability claim is won or lost.
Incidental fees might include but are not limited to traveling, cost of medical records, phone calls, and even the cost of postage. Some disability lawyers charge incidental fees whether you win or lose, some only charge them if you win, and some do not charge incidental fees at all. Most lawyers will charge you upfront for one type of incidental expense, the cost of obtaining medical record updates from your doctors and hospitals.
This is a cost that is unavoidable since your own medical treatment sources will typically not send records to the lawyer without expecting to be compensated in return; however, some attorneys will not charge upfront for this cost, but, instead, will allow you to reimburse them when the case is concluded. Bear in mind, though, that the majority of lawyers will charge upfront.
You should read all fee agreements carefully before signing them. Fee agreements are legally binding and your disability lawyer can demand payment for incidental expenses even if they lose (if you agreed to pay them in your fee agreement).
Return to: Social Security Disability Resource Center, or read answers to Questions
Social Security Disability Lawyers - Fees and Representation Information
Social Security Disability Representation - Disability Lawyers and Representatives
Why does Representation increase the win ratio at a Social Security Disability or SSI Hearing?
Social Security Disability Issues and Representation
How does Social Security Disability Representation work?
Does Being Represented On A Disability Claim Win The Case Faster?
Who can provide disability representation in North Carolina?
Should you hire a Non-Attorney Disability Representative instead of a Lawyer? The Rationale for getting Disability Representation
Information on the following topics can be found here: Social Security Disability Questions and in these subsections:
Frequently asked questions about getting Denied for Disability Benefits | FAQ on Disability Claim Representation | Info about Social Security Disability Approvals and Being Approved | FAQ on Social Security Disability SSI decisions | The SSD SSI Decision Process and what gets taken into consideration | Disability hearings before Judges | Medical exams for disability claims | Applying for Disability in various states | Selecting and hiring Disability Lawyers | Applying for Disability in North Carolina | Recent articles and answers to questions about SSD and SSI
These pages answer some of the most basic questions for individuals who are considering filing a claim.
Filing for disability - How to file for SSD or SSI and the Information that is needed by Social Security
How to Apply for Disability - What medical conditions can you apply and qualify for?
Applying for Disability - How long does it take to get Social Security Disability or SSI benefits?
What happens if I file a disability application and it is denied by a disability examiner or Judge?
How to Prove you are disabled and qualify to win disability benefits
How do you prove your disability case if you have a mental condition or impairment?
Social Security Disability Back pay and How Long it Takes to Qualify for it and receive it
Social Security Disability SSI - Eligibility Requirements and Qualifications Criteria